Born in Schleswig, raised in the Sauerland region, Vanessa came to Viessmann in Allendorf (Eder) during her high school leaving certificate for a logistics internship, and then decided to take part in the company’s cooperative education program: after three years, she completed her Bachelor’s of Business Administration with a specialization in Logistics Management, worked in various areas of logistics and in market research, and spent three months as an intern at the British branch. In 2012, she applied for a position as Change Manager for process optimization in the office, and two years later she was team leader. “In terms of personal development, I have learned a lot from my bosses,” says Vanessa.
Giving feedback in the right way
She has learned, for example, feedback culture: in the workshops she held for employees, she was accompanied during the initial onboarding phase by external coaches and her managers. “That gave me peace of mind.” The result: “Today, I reflect intuitively and reflexively on what I do.” And she learned to give employee feedback in the right way. “What have I done well? What can I do better? That’s what it’s about.” At the same time, she completed a Master’s degree in Process Management at the University of Applied Sciences of Central Hesse. “As a team leader, I was involved in streamlining processes and eliminating waste from workflows.”
Sometimes you feel like a small entrepreneur yourself.
At the beginning of 2016, she moved to Max Viessmann’s Digital Task Force. She still raves about working closely with the current CEO in the company’s own think tank: “I learned an incredible amount from Max Viessmann, especially entrepreneurial thinking. Sometimes you feel like a small entrepreneur yourself.” In the first two months, there were three of them in the working group, later there were about 20. Max Viessmann contributed a wealth of ideas on how to make the family-owned company fit for the digital future. “It was clear: we will have to work very differently in the future. In products, in sales, in collaboration, and in communication,” says Vanessa. “At the same time, it is very important to make proactivity a matter of course for employees.”
The customer defines what they want
This also means a new understanding of roles for managers. “In leadership positions, supporters and enablers are needed much more than mere assignment managers,” says Vanessa. Digital technology accelerates everything and calls for new business models. More and more takes place via online platforms. “In the future, we will not only sell the hardware but also the usage,” she explains. User behavior, therefore, is front and center. “The customer defines what they want, and we have to respond to that.”
Proactivity coupled with northern Hessian modesty and down-to-earthness.
To signal to company employees that the new era was not going to be worked out in back rooms and then suddenly brought in overnight, the Digital Task Force set up shop in the former executive lounge next to the cafeteria – separated only by a glass wall, where the door was usually open. “We knew that we had to communicate a great deal to get the employees on board,” Vanessa recalls. The team members could come in spontaneously, ask questions, have everything explained to them.
Getting the best out of yourself
“We wanted to be authentic. After all, we can’t preach transparency and not practice it ourselves,” Vanessa says. After a year of rigorous design work, the think tank was reorganized and Max Viessmann joined the management as Co-CEO. Vanessa took over the Transformation Office for one year and was responsible for overall project management of the many digital initiatives. For example, the area of Work Spaces and Locations was all about the question: “How do we design the environment so that everyone is able to get the best out of themselves?”
In the future, we will not only sell the hardware but also the usage.
Today, she is Project Manager for Work Spaces and Locations. “We are designing a new cafeteria, new office worlds, a new campus, and employee services.” In other words, everything that makes the work environment more communicative, the processes smoother, and the employees more creative and therefore more productive. At Viessmann, Vanessa says, there is a special attitude in the air: “Proactivity coupled with northern Hessian modesty and down-to-earthness.” What motivates her? “The opportunity to be actively involved.”