By Kathrin Köster

People for people – that’s what we do

Kathrin Köster: Whether in politics or business, there is a lot of empty talk, and an increasing aspiration for real people who walk the talk. People who really care. How do you make sure your company is real and cares 🙂 ?

Jürgen Schäfer: I think it comes back to purpose and attitude. I started to ask the ‘why-question’. In 2016, we put together a rather heterogeneous group of colleagues who brainstormed about: What’s our organization’s purpose? What is our common denominator? Our answer: “Passion for YOU” –  whether YOU is colleagues, vendors, or customers. It’s passion for individuals – in our business context. Of course, our shareholders want a return on investment. Our customers only want someone who listens carefully, understands their problem, and comes with the right solution. That’s all. Our colleagues want their own area of responsibility, their own little ‘garden’, where they can implement their ideas, grow and flourish.

Kathrin Köster: And how do you live this “passion for YOU”?

Jürgen Schäfer: Well, it’s been a transformational journey. I give you the example of ‘hunting’, our term for gaining new customers.

Kathrin Köster: This sounds pretty dangerous…

Jürgen Schäfer: For a long time, we understood ‘hunting’ more as cold calling, rather mechanistic. Then, we looked at it as a challenge to accompany and gradually persuade potential new customers. Our current attitude towards ‘hunting’ is to see our ‘hunters’ as the pioneers who spark the passion between us and new customers, based on human interaction.

Kathrin Köster: So, being real means changing your attitude, as a leader and as a company?

Jürgen Schäfer: Yes, it’s how I feel comfortable. I only can work towards something meaningful. I started to translate strategic imperatives into my personal values. Times indeed have changed. It’s not anymore about what you have, but who you are. And whether you really care for what you do.

Jürgen Schäfer is the COO of Bechtle AG, a Germany-based B2B and B2G IT company that sells IT hardware and software, as well as related services to business and public-sector clients. Jürgen is the head of the e-commerce unit with roughly 1,500 people operating in 14 countries through 24 subsidiaries with revenues between 5 and 200 million Euros. Overall, the e-commerce team achieved revenues of 1 billion Euros at the end of 2017.