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We@PS Podcast

A Navigator of Change and Opportunities

- Welcome to another episode of We@PS. I'm Halley Marsh, and joining me are my co-hosts, Nadine Bennett and Nick Easlick. We are all part of the Global Talent Acquisition team and come together each month to give our listeners an inside look at the people behind Publicis Sapient. As usual, we're gonna start off with our bite section, where we share our thoughts and opinions on recent articles that we've been reading. What do you have for us, Nadine?

 

- Thanks Halley. Yes, I sharing something that really peaked my interest this week. And it's an article written by Mark Schaefer via the medium platform. And it's about how employee protest power is transforming corporate culture. And he gave some examples of employee activism that I found really interesting. So, apparently in recent years, Google employees have walked out, sat in or protested the handling of sexual harassment cases. Supervisor retaliation, conservative appointment to an ethics committee and the company's contracts with Pentagon or the Pentagon, excuse me, which they later pulled out of which is some time ago now. And then Microsoft employees have walked off the job to protest defense related contracts and working with government immigrant agencies and the treatment of women. And similarly, Amazon employees have held rallies to rebel against the company's environmental policies. And I found this an interesting read because, obviously, when you're working, particularly in consulting, where we have a very, very clear identity, but we know who we work for, we know Publicis Sapient and its values and cultures, but of course we work with a whole range of clients. A lot like these big tech companies. And I've not encountered employee activism in our setting before. So, I was curious to see what you think about that? Because, maybe I am a bit of a dinosaur but if there was a policy that I didn't agree with I think I just suffer in silence. So I've got like mad respect for people for like really following through on what they believe in and influencing change and influencing policy off the back of activism. But I will be more like, "Oh no, I'll get told off." And the Hermione Granger in me does not do well with that at all. So have you sort of seen this, have you seen this kind of activism come through in your day-to-day roles? Or what do you think about that as a concept?

 

- Not so much in the day to day, but it is happening a lot here in the states. So, like Dollar General, which is a big dollar store here that they grow leaps and bounds. I heard one of every three new store this year is a Dollar General.

 

- Really?

 

- Which is crazy, yeah. They are essentially locking the doors and putting a note on the door, that's like, we all staff have left and like list the reasons why, and it's for more pay or better benefits or what have you. So we see that a lot. We also saw here in last summer we saw basketball players walk off the court without even playing a minute for racial injustice protest. Each protest has their own reason why, but I think the reason that they do it is because their voices haven't been heard, because the effort that they've tried to put forth to make change hasn't been heard. And so they needed to make a big statement and that was their way of going about it. So I think it's not a first resort, but it's almost in some ways a middle or last resort. And it all depends on what efforts been put in. But it's super interesting and it's kind of like the whole power to the people here.

 

- Totally.

 

- Right. And I do wonder, of all the examples that you said, Nadine, I imagine that they sound more like they're happening in the US, right? And I don't know-

 

- Yes they do, yeah, this is a US article.

 

- And I also think a lot of the companies you mentioned are in Silicon Valley and I do think that there is a strength and a confidence that you have when, I mean, most of those people are pretty well compensated probably and they're like, I know I can go get a job somewhere else. So I'm going to stand up for what I believe in. And I actually listened to an in-depth. I think it was like an eight episode podcast series about Google and they highlighted a lot of these things that happen. And it's a cultural thing too at the organizations that you're talking about, right? Like they have a very open policy where they want people to speak up, and they say like, come and tell us what you're not happy about. And they say it and they say it once and people dismiss it and they're like, well, then I'm gonna say it a lot louder. I think there's just a lot of different, like there's the company culture, there's the protest culture of the US, right, where you would do that. And combined in these situations I think it's awesome. And I also wanna say, the other thing I think about it, is like, this only happens when the companies are super transparent about some stuff where they know what's happening, right? Like at Google, a lot of this happened because like they publish all of who their clients are. So people knew about the defense contract and all of those things, right? Like, it's part of the culture there too. So I think it's really interesting.

 

- And shame and any like Silicon valley company singling some of those out that have had their employees protests because baked in their DNA is like change and difference and innovation and all of this.

 

- So Nick, that's a really good point, that's what this whole thing that I read. It said, so this is happening as they're flipping from being that like entrepreneurial change company to becoming bigger companies a little bit more corporate, a little bit like now we'll do defense contracts with the Federal government. Like, you know what I mean? Like, it's a lot different from when they were a startup in somebody's garage. So things start to shift. It's also like growing pains.

 

- Yeah.

 

- Right? Anyway, so that's great. Nick, what do you have for us?

 

- Yeah. So I recently read an article about how Fidelity, the investment firm is offering teens aged 13 to 17, whose parent or guardian also invests with them. They're giving teens an opportunity to open up a no fee brokerage account. And so this is all up in the news. I think it's absolutely brilliant. The account that the teen receives, it comes with a debit card and it allows them to trade with no account fees or commissions. So, parents are able to monitor their activity, which obviously it's a nice opportunity to teach kids about investing and hopefully to achieve financial wealth and independence. And so I think this generation of parents to young kids is far more open to talk to their kids about everything, including finances. Not necessarily in my household growing up, but I know a lot of friends whose parents didn't talk to them at all about financial habits or how to manage their money. But Fidelity's hope is that this helps to, helps the conversation to get started or to evolve. So they want us to teach kids or young people really two important things. Number one is, that investing is to beat inflation. And number two is to do that, you use compound interest. So nothing could go wrong with this, right? Well, there's obviously always risks to investing and there's fear that the platform will lead to younger investors buying and selling individual stocks, which is obviously a little bit more risky. The potential loss could take like a psychological toll. It really just turned them off to investing in general. But to alleviate that there's only 30K cap to the account. So their ideas that it's better to make mistakes on a few hundred or a few thousand dollars rather than a few hundred thousand dollars later in life. So, another recommendation that was made from Fidelity was, you know, give your kids some starter money. It gives them or gives you an opportunity to kind of check in down the line to be like, hey, how are things going? Like, let's take a look. So, of course the like seemingly obvious idea here is, Fidelity wants to capitalize and really lock in a client for, you know, years and years to come. No one wants to roll over an investment account. It is like the absolute worst. It's so confusing. You have to like always print out this form, like fill out boxes, you have no idea what they mean. And it's always like you have two options, you can mail it in or you can fax it in. And it's like-

 

- I don't have a fax machine.

 

- No, no. And then if you mail it in like three weeks later, you get a rejection, they ask you to fill it out again. And you're like, I don't know what I did wrong. It's the worst. No joke, Kristen and I my wife and I are still trying to roll over our previous, this is kind of embarrassing. Our previous 401K from her old employer to her new. And it's been two years, we've just finally lost all interest. And it's like, I don't know, just have the money, I don't care anymore. So I think such like a great idea for Fidelity. But what do you guys think? Good idea, bad idea? Both for the company, as well as like if you had kids at this age, would you open one up?

 

- No, I think we're seeing the emergence of the Wolf of Sesame Street, quite frankly. To be fair, I don't know anything about investing and my financial wealth leads or leaves a lot to be desired. So I'm not very informed, but I just feel like give them a savings account, save traditionally, learn how to save, learn how to budget. That to me is like a whole potential, a whole nother world of issues and challenges and habits you might be learning at such a young age. But, I do caveat that with, I've only had a really negative experience of that side of finance myself. So maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm a bit of a pessimist. What do you think Halley?

 

- I'm kinda pessimistic about it too. And more because of the teenage brain. And I'm not an expert, I mean, besides I was a teenager once. I've heard, and I'm sure that you guys have read things or listen to things or whatever, where you talk about like how teenagers brains are still rapidly forming and that's why the things that they do during that time. I'm specifically thinking about like Instagram or social media, right? How negative it can be. Like, it can have that addictive cycle, right, where people are like, you know, trying to get more likes, trying to get more of this. And I've definitely read things about people in the, more in their early twenties, right, who have had similar things with like the Robinhood app for investing, right? And the negative impact where it becomes like a game and they're kind of addicted to it and they're checking it all the time, and they're looking at how are their stocks performing and how is this going? And like, part of me really wants to say like let's let your brain form completely without some of that stuff, right? And focus on, like Nadine said, like I want you to know how to do a budget, I want you to know how to save money, I want you to know how to donate money to charities, right, and how to give it away. And if you can save it, we can teach you how to invest it when you're a little later. But I still, I totally get their approach from a business perspective, love it, right? Like good way, get in there earlier. It's like, you know, lock them in. I'll be honest, I have the same bank account that I set up when I was in eighth grade to put my babysitting money at. Like I still use that checking account because I'm too lazy to switch it.

 

- Yeah, I think my beef is that, so first off, agreed, the business principle is great. But thinking about it from a practical view, it goes from like, you skip steps one through six and you go right to investing. But you're right, like a budget, saving, how and what to spend your money on. Those are all really important things that go way before even thinking about putting money into a brokerage account or an EFT or a stock or whatever. And it also, I think, it leaves a lot of people behind. It's like you further that gap of groups, of social groups or groups of people that can't even get to step one through five, which again, is the budget, the saving, the what to spend money and how to be, just even responsible. It leaves that group even further behind.

 

- I will say, if it could be used to help that group get education.

 

- Yeah, for sure.

 

- Then I like it, then I'm a little bit more interested, right? And saying like, is this something that we could use with underserved populations to give them earlier access to something that might be easier, have more safeguards on it that maybe their parents don't know about it. Like, you know what I mean? Like then it could be more interesting too, and also a good business proposition. Anyway, so if you're looking for ideas, Fidelity, we have them all.

 

- Oh, yeah.

 

- And so, on a similar, not nots. Okay, it's not in a similar vein, I don't know why I would say that. On switching topics, it would be a better thing for me to say. So what I wanna talk about was on Fast Company did a review of the recent LeBron James Mountain Dew ad. And so that's what I wanna talk about today, is LeBron James and his Mountain Dew ed. I'm a LeBron James fan, I'm not gonna lie, I'm from Cleveland. I still, you know, I was a big Cavs fan during all of that. It was amazing. I don't need anybody from like Golden State Warriors like leaving messages or anything about this. I don't need to hear it, right? But anyway, so the thing that I thought was really interesting. So we talk about this and recruiting a lot, right. About how important it is to reflect your personal brand in all of your different social media. And so the thing that Fast Company highlighted about this with LeBron, is they were like, this Mountain Dew Rise commercial is like 100% on-brand for him. It was a good reminder where it's like you can take any opportunity that you have to like iterate your brand. And the reason why, it's 'cause it wasn't just showing him like as a great basketball player or whatever it was, you know, he used it as an opportunity to talk about the charity that he has, that he supports, that he has created in Northeast Ohio to help students. And he talked about his company that he's been launching. Like, he used it as an opportunity to cover all of the things, not just LeBron, the basketball player. And so I just thought it was a good reminder, for us, as we're putting ourselves out there, that our personal brand does matter, because it does matter from a, recruiters look at it, right? That's, you know, we all do. And so I don't necessarily have a specific question for you guys, except for maybe to say like, as recruiters, like validate that I'm right. You know, like you do look at what everybody's put out there, right? Their posts and the articles they've written and you know, the commercials they shot with Mountain Dew.

 

- It's so much more, as well, these days, sorry, Nick. But as part of the selection process for the executives that we hire, my community of leaders or that I work with, should I say, I don't know them. Always look at the thought leadership that's coming out of people's personal activity, what they're liking, what they're commenting or what really gets them going, what gets them into conversation. And so I completely agree. And now more than ever in our way of connecting on a global scale. Like this is something that is, I guess, it's seen, don't underestimate the power of it. I completely agree. Sorry, Nick.

 

- Oh, that's fine. I didn't see the ad that you're referencing, but the way you're describing it, it's him in a commercial for Mountain Dew talking about the cool things that he's done?

 

- No, no, no. So basically, no, but he uses this opportunity to talk about it there. So it's entertaining, it's funny, I recommend checking it out. And it's mountain Dew Rise, it's the new like, you know, morning thing that the morning drink they have. And so he was like, where would he be if he hits snooze every day instead of being like the guy who woke up early and got going. And so these are all the. So it's like these are the things that wouldn't have happened. Like he wouldn't have these amazing stuff. Spoiler alert, he would be like a Chacha dance teacher in a strip mall. and he wasn't super great at it.

 

- And you know what, he'd probably be phenomenal at that too.

 

- I'm sure he would. His dancers are pretty good in the video. Yeah, so that's what it kinda was. It's like, he was like, because I get up early and I get going, I deal with some stuff.

 

- Yeah, that's cool. Love him or hate him, it's undeniable that he has used, at least even if, whether it's 3% or 30% or more of his brand for good. I think that that's something that we can all aspire to. You can't deny that he's not done some really amazing philanthropic things for some very underprivileged and underrepresented groups of people that are just absolutely-

 

- Absolutely. And we see it a lot here in Northeast Ohio. Shout out for that. So anyway, that's it for this week's bite section and now onto our interview.

 

- Today, Nadine Bennett and I are joined by Ute Maria Zankl, Chief Talent Officer for our DACH region. Ute is a seasoned leader with a wide array of experience in international functions and industries. Since 2007, she has served in a variety of leadership functions at Publicis Sapient. Over the past seven years, she has been leading the people strategy or HR Operation in Germany and Switzerland as a part of our DACH leadership team. Ute brings with her previous experience as a Consultant, Account Manager, Product Manager as well as Market Researcher in the IT, Telecommunications and Semiconductor industry. Ute, welcome to the podcast.

 

- Thank you, I'm excited to be able to join you today.

 

- Yeah, we're excited to chat with you. So we believe that where people come from helps people shape who they are now. So well, we like to start by asking all of our guests is, where did you grow up and what were you like as a kid?

 

- So I grew up in Southern Germany on the countryside. So I was born in a very loving and supportive family. So I had a wonderful childhood. It wasn't a bed of roses because my parents have been born and raised, so to speak in World War II, so they had to start from scratch. My father was a refugee and my mom had lost her father during World War II. So this is why they literally started from scratch, but we didn't have a lot of money but a lot of love and support. So, I think we, my sister and I were well-prepared for, you know, whatever we did afterwards. So, yeah.

 

- I mean, it really must have shaped you, Ute, to grow up with values like that. What an influence. But fast-forwarding somewhat from your days as a child, what was your first job?

 

- So it depends, I mean, I started working at 14, because as I said, we weren't particularly rich. So I did jobs alongside my studies and my school. My first, my very first job really was, I was a cleaning lady every Friday in a tire shop. So you can imagine that was dirty and things like that. But on the other hand, I loved it because in this tire shop, it was that they were not used to young girls or whatnot. So I got so much, so many tips because I helped guys to get the tires in and out of their cars. So I really earned quite a bit by just being friendly. So that was cool.

 

- That sounds really cool. And also, you know, being a woman in a man's world at such a young age, what a great kind of experience to have you working with different sorts of people.

 

- I think that that runs through my whole career. I've been in so many male dominated environments in my whole career. But maybe this is where it started, yeah.

 

- So 14 is when you started. Was that you, was that your parents who said, "Hey, go work."

 

- No, that was me, that was me. Because, you know, I couldn't afford as much as my friends could. So I wanted to just have some extra money for LPs. You all don't know what that was, you know, those were the round things that made music.

 

- Yes, yes.

 

- Love that, love that.

 

- I just wanted to, yeah, afforded a little bit more than my parents could provide me with. And this was the reason why I worked there, yeah.

 

- What were some of the early lessons that that work taught you.

 

- I think it was, it taught me pragmatism. You know, sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves and do what is necessary. Of course, it would have never been something that I wanted to be engaged in for a long period of time, because it did not correspond with, you know, what I wanted to be later on. But I think for the time being, it absolutely made sense. And I think this pragmatism is also needed sometimes or was sometimes needed throughout my career. If you start a career, obviously you do that because you love what you're about to do, but you won't find a job, any job in the world where there is, I don't know, happy life every day. So sometimes you just need to, you just need to do what is necessary at this particular point in time. And this pragmatism, I think is something that I learned in this tire shop.

 

- Did it help or help with the decision of what you wanted to study? Like starting work younger?

 

- Not at all.

 

- No, you didn't study tires. What did you study at college?

 

- The interesting thing is that, I mean, I was the first person in my family, in my wider family that ever went through a higher education. So, I didn't have a lot of role models, so all I knew was what does a doctor do? I didn't want to become a doctor. What does a lawyer do? I didn't want to become a lawyer. Then the next best thing was to become a teacher, because I knew what a teacher does. So I studied French and Sports Sciences to be a teacher at a junior college. And this was really what I did, because I loved sports and I loved French and that was really it. I didn't pick and choose my sports and French because I believe that I can build a career out of it, I just trusted that something would come along. And if bad comes to worse, I could always work as a teacher. So that was pretty much the idea when I started university.

 

- That's funny, I had a very same and similar take on my early career. I graduated not really knowing what I wanted to do. I thought, well, maybe teaching would be fun. 'Cause that's really all I knew. You grew up, you go 15, 17 years of school and it's like, well, that's really all I know in this world.

 

- Exactly, yeah.

 

- Nick, I think you'd be a great teacher.

 

- Oh, thanks, you know what, you're not the first person to say that. Maybe I missed the boat, although I will say I've made way more career of what I've been doing than I ever thought was possible. I had no idea that recruiting was even a thing. No, thank you, Nadine.

 

- No problem, father, everyone.

 

- What university did you go to? And really what connected you to your first career out of the university?

 

- So, I studied, as I said, Sports Sciences, French and Social Sciences, I must say at Augsburg University. So Augsburg is a little town near Munich in Southern Germany. And actually, I went to this university because at that time I was a basketball player and I played in the National League and they had-

 

- That's so cool.

 

- They had a team there. So I went to Augsburg, not so much because of the university, but because of the basketball team. So this is how I started and I went through the whole education, I did the teachers training and pretty much then I thought that, I probably don't want to be a teacher at some school, but I want to go into academia and be a professor. And it worked out pretty well, initially. So I started my PhD and I was employed by the university for a research study that we did. Until I finally realized that, oops, maybe academia is not really what I want. So I'm more of a generic person. So I'm not the person who dives deep into detail and everything else was also so, how would I say, it was also long drawn, I'm more of a dynamic person. So I thought academia is not really the right thing to do. And then I stumbled across an opportunity to do market research for a company that is an American company, actually headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, NCR, National Cash Register. At that time they still did PCs, so personal computers. When I started in the mid eighties and this is how long it is ago. They hired me to do market research for PCs under development, because I had some experience with research methodologies, I could speak English, and I had first interactions with PC technology, so I wasn't afraid of that. That was literally why I was hired by NCR back then. And that completely turned my career into a different direction. And from then onwards, I just, you know, went along and looked out for opportunities and courageously took them. And this is how I went from step to step. That's how it started.

 

- Yeah. Well, let's not bury the lead here one second 'cause you talked about your basketball playing days. I just got a basketball hoop outside. If I were to pivot my computer, you could probably see it. I'm out there all day, maybe not all day, every day, for sure, for, you know, 10, 15 minutes during the day, definitely during the evening. I would love, did you still shoot?

 

- I do, actually I do. I mean, I can't play that much anymore because my knees are rotten, but every now and then and my husband and I, he played basketball as well. So we met playing basketball. So every now and then we go outside and throw a couple of balls. So that's still part of our life, yeah.

 

- Well, if we ever meet and you're ever in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we'll play a game of pig, I don't know if that translates to German language,

 

- We'll do, it does.

 

- Okay, good. So going back to some of your, you know, your careers and your positions post-college. You know, in the intro we talked about, you know, you were a consultant, you were an account manager, you were just talking about that research company. So now let's fast forward to where you are today but, how did you get here? 'Cause going to more of a, you know, being a chief talent officer is vastly different than some of the positions you were talking about before.

 

- Totally. The thing is, you know, if you look at the steps. The last step before I joined Sapient was that of a recruitment consultant, a headhunter, you know, for the Semiconductor industries. So I was pretty specialized at that point.

 

- A noble profession, a noble profession, for sure.

 

- Yeah.

 

- And very male-oriented, 'cause we talked about that earlier, right. So at that time, a former team member of mine, that I actually met at my very first stage at NCR. Went out to lunch with me and we talked about, you know, what we were doing and blah, blah, blah. And she said, you know what? I'm a marketing person at a company that's called Sapient. And I said, who are they? Because back then, actually nobody in Germany really knew them. I thought it had something to do with SAP. Obviously, in the meantime everybody knows Sapient but back then, she said, why don't I refer you, because we are just looking for a director of recruiting that sets up the hiring organization across Europe. And I said, "You know what, I don't think I want this job "because it's not going to have client interaction." I was always a person who loved that client facing things, but then she didn't really stop talking about it. And then I said, "Yeah, okay, "why don't you just put my CV in." And funny enough, without really being excited about it at the beginning, the more I spoke with recruiters and with the people, the more it felt like exactly my job. And because it was a European job, I think I had like 14 interviews with people with, you know, in Germany and in London and in the US, so my boss was in the US at that time, in North America. But as I said, the more I spoke about it and the more I learned about it the more it felt right. So I did it and I came in and the first four years I spent exactly doing that. You know, setting up a hiring organization across Europe. Which at that point was only the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, I believe. So, it wasn't that big, but still diverse enough to be a real challenge. And I loved it. But then I'm a person that gets bored pretty quickly. So after four years I was up for something else and I was asked whether I would love to drive a change project, a global change project in the capacity field. So this is the way of how we staff people onto projects. So that was a change management project that I did, and that was global for about two years. And towards the end, I was thinking about what's next. And that was when my predecessor in Germany moved to Singapore to set up, setup Sapient Nitro at that time, was it in Asia Pacific? And they asked me whether I would take on this people strategy role again. I said, no, not really. I'm not a personnel person. But then, again, they convinced me to do it. And guess what, here again I think it was the best decision I've ever done. And why? Because I felt I had so much impact in this role, much more than I would ever have in a delivery role or in any other role that I possibly could have taken. And this is what I did over the past seven years. And I'm still a person that gets bored quickly, but if you think about all the transformations that we've gone through. The companies that we included that needed to, you know, be brought on board and our own transformation from a more, you know, digital agency type company to a consulting company that does digital business transformation with us, large clients. I mean, there was so much to do over the past years that I, first of all, I didn't even see how quickly the time passed. And it was always something new that had to be learned and something interesting that had to be done. And it was never a dull day. So I never felt bored really and this is why I'm still here.

 

- There's a really common theme there, Ute, and I think it's very topical for people given the last year that we've just had, where people are trying to create opportunities for themselves for job change or career change or pivoting their skills. You know, this has happened a lot for you. So I sense there's something that you have and possess in terms of a skill or a characteristic that invites this. So, do you have any advice for our listeners with who wants to do that?

 

- So I can only speak from my own experience. And when it comes to my own career, I can say that whenever I try to make a plan for what the next steps would be or what skill I needed to learn or anything else, it didn't work out. It always worked out if I stayed open. And I think this is something that I do have is an open mind and an open sort of observing others and looking out for opportunities and then judging whether or not that could be in my area of interest or not. I have often made those changes in my career. And I believe that sometimes you just need to have that leap of faith in your own capabilities and just try. I mean, I stumbled a couple of times as well, right? But overall, I believe that my ability to spot opportunities and to grasp them has helped a lot. And that was really one of the key themes throughout my whole career, yeah.

 

- And I think that another common theme just within Publicis Sapient, between our walls is that, and you're another example of it, but you've held a few different positions in your time here. And I think the common theme is that most people leave to go experience something new or to get a new role, but here roles can change, company names can change, company structures can change. So how has your role and really company, how have they evolved in the last, you know, four or five years?

 

- So, I don't know whether the role has evolved so much. I think the environment has changed and with that, the role had to change. So I wouldn't put the focus on the role as such. I mean, obviously our whole company has become a lot more complex. If you think about us 30 years ago, when we started up and then 15 years ago when I started, we weren't 3000 people worldwide, right? It was more or less a little bit more than a midsize company. So, I knew everybody in that German shepherd in that company. Now we're a lot bigger, and we are part of a huge conglomerate with 80,000 people. So, the complexity has increased, the way of how we position ourselves in the market has changed. And that obviously has an impact on the way of how we work, the way of how we collaborate with each other, the way of how people come together. So we can't just, you know, yell across the ocean to somebody in Boston about something. Of course we could, but we need to know to whom we yell, right. So I think our role has become more often navigator of change in people's strategy. I think that's probably a good way of putting it, a navigator of change. Because for many of our old timers, this is a new world that they had to get adjusted to. And for others that have joined only recently it is still a huge company, but with heart of, and the DNA of a small company. Which is by the way, very attractive, because a lot of what we were made of initially still is there, right? Our core values, for example or the whole people centric culture that people experience as soon as they set foot into our doors. It's an interesting mix. So we in the people teams have become navigators for our own people and also for candidates out there to help them navigate through our complex world and the highly matrix environment that we are in.

 

- Yeah. Yeah. So, you talk about the people teams, you know, when we say people teams, other companies call them HR, but point is is that, you know, you talk a lot about how, like you talked navigate and how sophisticated the people teams here are. A lot of companies see HR as like a support function but what do we see ourselves? What are our people teams and how do they interact with the business beyond just being, well, they're not really a support, they are to a degree, but they go way beyond being that.

 

- Totally. So I think people who are still looking at HR, a word that I hate by the way, and I explain that later. But the way of how people, or if companies see HR as a service organization they're probably just stuck in the nineties, you know. Every company that has evolved over time. And the large ones, as well as the small ones that are, I don't know, just starting up, have understood that support for our people has a lot to do around a holistic way of looking at them and helping them and supporting them in their career aspirations, but also in their personal work. So happiness is such an important topic, right? You can't do that if you're just a service function that does contracts, right? So that's the one side, the other side is that, people teams and people leads have more and more become a consultant to our other leaders. Again, a navigator to them. And that goes way beyond, I don't know, setting up our high potential program for them. It's much more interconnected with the type of work that we do, with the type of clients we're seeking. The way of how we work. I mean, think about how a company like ours, who was really, really known for that excellent project management skills, but back way back then it was all waterfall. And think about how that had to be adapted to agile work methods and to scrum and to other agile methods. I mean, that has an impact on our people and how they work and how they collaborate. And they cannot do that on their own. So they need to get the support, rather through, I dunno, through trainings or through coaching, all these other things. So there is a lot that needs to come out of the people teams. And when I'm talking about people teams, those are all these people who take care of the needs of our people on the one hand and the needs of the company on the other hand, right? Whether that's in learning and development, whether that's in recruiting or whether that's in my sphere of people strategy, or whether it's stuffing. Whatever it is, you always have to balance. You always have to balance the requirements of a company and the needs of our people. And that requires a lot more than in previous years, you know. HR and Finance and even Marketing were said to be pretty agnostic back then in the days. Today, if you don't know what business we are in and what the date work is that our people are performing day in and day out, how would you ever be able to perform a supporting and a coaching and a helping function, right.

 

- For sure.

 

- Yeah. Does that make sense?

 

- It makes total sense, Ute. It's really interesting to talk to you on this topic. And you've kind of touched upon the evolution of, you know, from waterfall to agile, but, how do you feel that you and perhaps your team have helped Publicis Sapient transform?

 

- It is hard to pinpoint this one or two things that we've done. One of the things that I believe was so important for us and to me particularly, was to always look ahead and to ensure that our people have this learning mindset and this view into the future and this next, as we have called it at some point. But not to forget the DNA and how to marry those two, I think is extremely important because if you forget where you're coming from. And this is something that I learned as a person and I believe that is also true for companies. If you forget where you're coming from, you're losing your soul. But that also means you cannot stay where you were 10 years ago. I mean, I've spoken with a couple of people who said that, you know, Sapient has changed so much and I don't know whether that's still my company. But Sapient has always been a company that is transforming themselves. So, even in those 15 years that I was with the company, 14 years, how many was it? I forget. But in those years, I mean, we have totally reinvented us three times, I believe. So transforming is part of our DNA, that's who we are.

 

- And yours, Ute, and yours.

 

- And mine and mine.

 

- So, Ute, you've had a very fruitful career. If you were to look back and give, just taking what you've learned, what advice would you give someone for either their current job or when finding a new job?

 

- Here, again, I think I need to tie that into a couple of things. So, I can only encourage people to be confident and not to doubt too much about themselves. You know, be confident about yourself, be confident about your future. Don't be too afraid. And this is the next thing, confidence, and you need a little bit of courage. And courage comes in many ways. Courage is, you know, thinking out of the box, thinking about new things, being courageous enough to leave the comfort zone here and there, so courage comes in many facets, but be courageous. But also be pragmatic. I talked about this learning in my first job in the tire shop, right. Sometimes just, you know, do what is necessary now and don't care about, you know, the next six months. There is one thing, and I think that is a benefit for me being having such a long career, being such an old person, right? No, no, no, no. That's okay, that's okay. I'm okay to say that, right? Because I think there's a lot of benefit in it, because, if I'm seeing young people sometimes being so nervous about their next step and that everything needs to come so quickly. And the next promotion and the next learning and the next, next, next, next, next. And I think, you know what? In the end, in the course of a 40 year career, what's another year? So maybe it sometimes it might make sense to be a little bit more patient to wait for a better opportunity in that environment that you are in. So, leaving too early doesn't make sense because it always looks like you're fleeing from hardship or you're, you know, walking away from challenges. At the same time, I wouldn't stay too long either, you know. If you're bored for a very long time or you don't feel, I don't know that your career goes anywhere, that's fine to leave. So, I think you need to find a middle ground here. But this is all about pragmatism.

 

- Totally. And by the way, I feel like I just got some free therapy there, 'cause I'm so much in a rush for everything. So I'm gonna take that on board. And Ute-

 

- Particularly for women, you know, they try to be so quick to make those first few steps in their career before they're having their first baby, because they know that for quite some time, there will be, I don't know, they will be, you know, maybe have other priorities. But in the end, as I said, don't think about having everything in this rush hour of your life and the rush hour of your life needs to be decompressed a little bit. So, why not wait another year here or another year there in order to not get everything into one thing. Buying a house and getting married and having a job and being promoted and, you know, earning more money and traveling and blah.

 

- Pressure.

 

- The pressure is so high for those mid twenties to maybe mid thirties. And I can only say, oh God, a little bit more pragmatism maybe works because, at my age, I can say that because I don't want to hide it, I'm 64. I just think for some of my decisions I could have taken a little bit more time and I would still be a senior director now or maybe a VP or whatnot, you know. Because, I mean, I know that I'm good, and I know I have a smart head on my shoulders. So why does everything need to come into this, you know, 34 to now in this 25 to 28 or 25 to 30 year timeframe. That puts up so much pressure on you. It's not good for the peace of mind and for the mental health. So I can only ask you, take it with a passion and know what you're good at and be confident and push forward but don't put too much pressure on yourself.

 

- Ute, I'm gonna CC you into an email to my mum after this, who- I could really use some help having that conversation with her. But we'll pick that up offline. And to your point about courage. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us so far. And I'm glad that you have the courage to face the Sapient seven. It's an intense line of questioning that we extend to all of our guests. And we come to that point, so be ready. I'm gonna give you some quick fire questions. So whatever first comes to your mind.

 

- Okay.

 

- So starting, what's something new you've learned in the last 30 days?

 

- Actually, it's not so new, but it's a reconfirmation. You know, we always talked about how people-oriented we are and how our culture just puts people in front and center. And when two weeks ago, I believe it was when the COVID pandemic in India hit its peak. You know, how everybody in this company, no matter whether it was management or juniors or whatnot just came together and tried to figure out how we could help our people in India. I found that so inspiring. And as I said, it's not necessarily new but it's a reconfirmation of our-

 

- Yeah, heartwarming-

 

- I loved it. I loved it so much. I had literally tears in my eyes, honestly.

 

- Yeah, yeah. And so on onto the next question then. What is one trend you're paying attention to?

 

- The one trend is really around what the future of work is, the trend towards hybrid workings.

 

- Such a good one. We haven't had that yet, Ute, that's a great one.

 

- That's something that I'm very concerned about because I totally get it that many people want to work only from home or only from the office. I personally believe that if you're working on something that is really only heads down, you know, working on something, you can do that at home, no problem. But there are things where you need your teams around you. That's you know, the way you need a community. So I strongly believe that, while the pandemic has shown us that, yes, we all can work from home and still be productive. I believe that our future must be somewhere in a hybrid way. I don't know exactly how. I'm reading a lot about it, I'm talking to a lot of people about it but that is a trend that I'm observing, yeah.

 

- Yeah, yeah, great one. Next, what's something on your bucket list?

 

- I don't have a bucket list.

 

- Oh, why is that? Is that a deliberate choice?

 

- Yeah, it's a deliberate choice. I have decided that if you have a bucket list and that ties back into my first, I think about, if I plan for a career, for sure it just doesn't work, right. A personal bucket list would be the same. Why should I be so focused on, I don't know, climbing the mountain XYZ, maybe there's another mountain next door which is a lot nicer, which in the pursuit of a bucket list I would completely overlook. So, I always look around and I try to also form a personal life. I try to find opportunities for myself and for my family to explore new things. But I don't have a bucket list.

 

- I really feel a book forming here, Ute, by the way. You could totally write a book on this philosophy.

 

- Living in the moment, love it.

 

- And did you have a nickname growing up? And if so, what was it?

 

- No, I didn't have a nickname.

 

- So, I've thought of one.

 

- Which one?

 

- Ute the shooter for basketball.

 

- Oow!

 

- Yeah.

 

- You can have that, you can have that, girl fist.

 

- Thank you for that, thank you for that. The thing is, you know, it didn't work when I was a child because it doesn't work in Berlin.

 

- Oh yeah. This would have to be in the US at the NBA. This works for the NBA, doesn't it? Or WNBA, I should say. And we touched upon this earlier, but if you could summarize what the most valuable thing you learned from your parents or family was.

 

- So I think it's a lot around being strong and feeling strong. My mom was a very, very strong personality, you know. So she's a role model and she would always say that, I shouldn't give a shi, I'm sorry, about other people's minds. I should just need to ensure that I'm okay and my closest allies are okay with what I'm doing. But I should not listen to, you know what others say. So my mom, she's 85, by the way. My mom, she's on Facebook.

 

- Is she?

 

- I'm not, but she says, you know, what you read there, this is so disgusting. And this is exactly why I'm not on Facebook because I don't want to cope with all this things around there that don't impact me a bit.

 

- Yeah, right, yeah.

 

- Right? Yeah, that was what I've learned from my mom. And my dad, my dad is more like the person that seeks harmony everywhere. And I believe I'm a really good mixture of both. My mom is very aggressive. I mean, you wouldn't believe how aggressive she can be. And my dad is a totally nice and warm personality and I'm more or less mixed. And I'm looking up to my mom for things that have to do with my job often enough and for my dad when it comes to more the relationship building things. So this is what I've taken away.

 

- He sounds like your classic Libra. Could he be a Libra by any chance?

 

- I am a Libra, yeah.

 

- Oh, same. It's all about peace and harmony and balance and we're indecisive. But I will move on to that. So let's-

 

- I'm not indecisive, so in that I'm not all a Libra.

 

- Okay, I've taken your share for sure. So let's go back to the LPs. If you were on a deserted island, what album would you take with you?

 

- I would probably take a very old album with me. Maybe something from the seventies, you know. That was my time, so the seventies was my time.

 

- Bit of disco?

 

- No, not disco, disco was eighties. So seventies is more like Led Zeppelin.

 

- They're two decades, right?

 

- Sorry.

 

- It would be more like Led Zeppelin or something like along those lines. Yeah, yeah.

 

- And final one, what book are you reading right now?

 

- I'm reading, I love biographies by the way. And I'm just reading a biography about Jan Novitsky. I don't know whether you know him but Jan Novitsky retired from the NBA. He works with Dallas. And guess what? When I was young I played his mom, so-

 

- Claim to fame.

 

- So I'm reading the the biography of Jan Novitsky from the Dallas Mavericks.

 

- Ute, this has been so fun. Thank you so much for being here today. I've really enjoyed getting to know you, your career path and where you've grown through Sapient and how. And before we let you go, can our listeners find you on LinkedIn if they wanna connect and learn more?

 

- Oh, yeah, yeah, of course.

 

- Fantastic. Thank you so much for being so open with us and sharing your story. And that's all from us.

 

- thank you, again.

 

- Thanks again for listening to another episode of the We@PS Podcast. Don't forget to subscribe in whatever app you choose and check us out at careers.publicissapient.com. Until next time, I'm Halley Marsh.

 

- I'm Nadine Bennett.

 

- And I'm Nick Easlick.

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