Since the beginning of the year, a fresh wind has been blowing through Häffner GmbH & Co. KG a fresh wind has been blowing through the purchasing department. With Yvonne Schnürch, the company has gained a seasoned professional in theof the wholesale trade. In this interview, she tells us more about her career so far, her management philosophy and her attitude to digitalization.
Mrs. Schnürch. First of all, a warm welcome to our company. We hope that you have been able to settle in well so far. How have you experienced your first few weeks at Häffner?
My colleagues – both within Purchasing and from other departments – have been very supportive in word and deed, making my start very easy. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them in particular for their help and warm welcome, but also for welcoming me into the team and for the good conversations. Thanks to their time and support, I have been able to familiarize myself with the topics as quickly as possible.
I can’t say much about the technical aspects after less than a month. As an “industry outsider”, I’m still learning the ropes here and learning a lot of new things. A very exciting market with many influencing factors and challenges awaits me.
We would like to get to know you better. How have you spent your working years so far?
After my studies and training, I was always employed in the purchasing department. I was allowed to pass through different stations and held various positions. For the last 29 years, I worked in a pharmaceutical wholesale company. My responsibilities there were very varied and I had to constantly adapt to various factors influencing the current market conditions.
Projects to optimize work processes and the constant development of the department and thus the company were just as much a part of my daily work as the close cooperation with our suppliers in the sense of key account management. Always having an ear to the market and knowing where to get desired and required information is the secret of success here.
Why did you specifically choose a medium-sized company like Häffner? Do you see any particular challenges in it in contrast to your previous professional experience?
From the very first interview, I could sense how people interact with each other. I was impressed by the fast decision-making processes and I definitely saw parallels to my previous work. Certainly, some things play a different role in a corporation than in a medium-sized company. For me personally, I don’t see any particular challenge in a negative sense, but rather an encouragement and an opportunity to use my previous professional experience profitably for Hugo Häffner and also to expand my personal horizon.
What specific tasks are you most looking forward to in your new position as Purchasing Manager at Häffner?
The position as such is not new to me, the industry and the type of company is “just” different. The challenges are usually brought to you by the market. That’s exactly what’s exciting for me – familiarizing myself with a market that’s completely new to me and taking on the challenges that come with it. Furthermore, there are certainly also the internal topics that need to be identified, developed and advanced.
Ms. Schnürch, after many years of experience as a supervisor, how would you describe your management style?
My management style is very cooperative. As far as possible, I involve the team in the decision-making processes and like to provide a certain framework within which each employee can move freely and make decisions without always having to consult. My door is also always open to everyone, no matter what the topic.
Thinking beyond that: What is important to you in your day-to-day work?
Open and honest communication and an intensive exchange, even beyond departmental boundaries, are important to me. This creates awareness of the things that affect individuals in their day-to-day work. Ultimately, we all have common values, a vision and a mission – a common goal.
How important is teamwork to you and how would you like to strengthen this cohesion in your department?
In my view, teamwork is not limited to the department, but goes beyond departmental boundaries. As I just mentioned, we all play on the same team and have a common goal. Active exchange and intensive communication with each other should always make us aware of this, as should working together to achieve our goals.
What are your views on the major topics of digitization, new work and work-life balance?
Digitization is a broad field with many opportunities and possibilities. It’s much more than writing e-mails instead of letters or keeping scanned documents in a digital archive instead of filing them away in a folder in the closet. Personally, I am very open to the topic. In my view, however, the means and media used for each topic must be examined on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they make sense and create value or benefits.
New Work is part of digitalization and the digital transformation in which we find ourselves. I myself have worked exclusively in a home office since the beginning of the pandemic, and after more than a year and a half, I know the advantages but also the disadvantages very well. The question here – as with many other things – is how each individual manages to deal with it consciously. I see a big advantage in the flexibility of the employee. Depending on one’s disposition, however, it can quickly become a disadvantage if one also forgets the work-life balance.
Everyone has to find this balance between work and everyday life for themselves in order to perform well in the long term, but also to preserve their own health. It is the most valuable asset we have and must not be jeopardized. In the job, as in sports, top performance is only possible if there are also rest phases.
How do you motivate yourself, or your employees, in a strenuous phase of work?
I myself am motivated during strenuous phases of work by knowing the goal and not losing sight of it. If I know why I am doing something, it always works better. I also see this in a more sporting way, because experience has shown me again and again: even if you don’t believe it sometimes, you always get through strenuous phases and can then be proud of what you have achieved. In these phases of work, it also helps me to take time out, put the topic aside for a moment and then look at it with a fresh eye. A cup of coffee with colleagues or even talking about something else helps a lot.
How I motivate employees in such phases depends on the individual employee and how he or she deals with the situation. I can’t give a blanket answer to this, but have to find individual approaches tailored to the employee, which can be very different. Creating a good mood and a good working atmosphere has never hurt at this point as a first measure!
If friends had to describe you, what would the image of Yvonne Schnürch look like?
The answer is best given by friends and not by myself, but those around me repeatedly attest to the following qualities:
straightforward yet thoughtful, self-reflective, open and empathetic.
How do you balance out your workday?
In my free time, I like to be outside and move around in the fresh air. Until three years ago, I also liked to exercise underwater. But since I discovered golf, diving has taken a back seat. Traveling is also one of the things I like to do – getting to know the world and new people while pursuing my sporting hobbies. Just lying on the beach is definitely too boring for me.
I also like to go to concerts and if they are not in our region, I also like to combine a city trip with a concert visit or the other way around.
After many extensive questions, a few to relax. If you had to choose:
Coffee or tea? Depends on the coffee 😉
Dog or cat? Manta and shark
Summer or winter? Summer
Beach or mountains? In alternation
Organization is everything or a little creative chaos is okay? Order
Laptop or paper and pen? Laptop
Book or e-book? Book
Modern or classic? A combination of both