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MEET Kathrin Anselm, power woman and expert for start-up business

Kathrin Anselm has got it, the experience in the start-up business. For 20 years she has worked in the internet and media sector, with big names such as Limango, Rocket Internet and Pro7Sat1. Kathrin has also worked as a consultant for five years, among others with Oliver Wyman and further, with her own company. She is currently interim managing director of Deliveroo‘s German business. Not to forget: She is a mentor for female executives, start-ups and social business as well as a guest lecturer at the Technical University of Munich. Hence, she knows what she’s talking about when she tells us in the Styles4Work interview what the advantages and disadvantages of self-employment are and how she sees the role of the business woman in Germany. We also learn about her favourite business outfit and what her childhood dream was.

KEY FACTS

Name: Kathrin Anselm
Age: 44
Family status: married
What is your job title? Consultant & interim manager, currently managing director of Deliveroo GmbH
Where do you live? Berlin
How would you sum up your life-style? I would say a big, bustling mess – reasonably well managed. My profession, which constantly brings with it something new, naturally plays a very important role, and I have to be careful not to subordinate everything to it. Regular exercise, healthy food and above all, time together with my family and my partner is immensely important to me.

Which hobbies to you have?

I do not have a hobby in the narrower sense. I like to spend my free time reading or opera/ballet/concert/exhibition, occasionally I also enjoy cooking.

Do you follow a motto?

“You can do it this way, of course, but then it is not quite as perfect”. I am quite a perfectionist and have a very concrete idea of what the final result should look like about a lot of things. Not a motto that I would recommend unreservedly.

What did you want to be as a child?

Biology was my favourite subject at school, I had subscribed to a nature animal science magazine and thought for a while that I would become a marine biologist. Exploring maritime ecosystems, living on a research boat, obtaining medicines from algae – I found that exciting.

How would you compare permanent employment and self-employment? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

In addition to aspects such as planning and social security, I particularly like the feeling of “belonging”, i.e. being an integral part of a team, leading and developing employees and standing for a company and shared values.

Freelance work, on the other hand, is like an exciting journey: which business model will I be familiarizing myself with tomorrow, which challenges will I have to master, which people will I meet? I also like the time flexibility. This way I could take many weeks of time for my sick mum, to give spontaneous care to my nieces at Lake Constance and to make dreams come true, like moving to Bordeaux for 1 month and bringing my French back to level.

What are the biggest challenges in your current position?

At Deliveroo, my predecessor and I gave ourselves the door handle without handing it over due to time constraints. I had to work my way into an incredibly exciting but complex food delivery business model virtually overnight. 100 employees, a high turnover of millions and the dynamics of the fastest growing tech company in Europe: all this required a high degree of structure, focus, speed and time flexibility. At the same time, it was important to win the trust of this great team. My predecessor was the first boss for many of my employees. Something which shapes and binds emotionally. Change is never easy, even for younger people in a start-up.

Last, but not least my start fell right into the strategy and budget process for 2019. I coordinated the last input for the P&L planning with our Global COO on Christmas Eve 1h before Christmas Mass and then took a deep breath. If I look back the first 10 weeks and listen to my team, I seem to have mastered all these challenges quite well. That makes me very happy and motivated infinitely.

Did you yourself have mentors on your career path?

I have never had a longer mentor-mentee relationship, but I have always had men and women who have advised me well and encouraged me. I agree with Sheryl Sandberg: “The most important career decision you’ll make is who your life partner is.” The fact that the men at my side have always devoted themselves to my career with dedication alongside their own helps enormously.

If you gave your young self some advice, what would it be?

I have a tendency towards perfectionism and think too much about whether it doesn’t get any better. Story of my life, so to speak. Just work towards 80% and realize that that’s usually enough. That would be the perfect advice for my younger self.

Do you think that women generally have to fight harder in their profession?

I wouldn’t generally affirm this. On a positive note, I see at least a growing self-conception in my industry to occupy roles across all functions and hierarchies regardless of gender and to assess performance similarly. That is progress.

At the same time, I experience again and again that restraint is exercised, even to the point of annoyed rejection, when it comes to hiring or promoting women in their early 30s or re-entering mothers. Women definitely will have to fight harder here.

Do you profit professionally from your network?

Very much. In fact, every permanent position and almost every interim or consulting activity has come from my network so far.
However, my network is not very large, because I try to handle contact requests according to the principle “spoken at least once, even better met in person”. For me the personal connection paired with a basic sympathy is important.

Styles4Work is a niche online shop. How do you assess the importance of such specialized platforms for trend building in the coming years?

Definitely rising! Let’s stick to the example of business fashion and the business model of Styles4Work. Many manufacturers of business fashion for women in Germany have missed out on rejuvenating their lines, adapting to changing sales behaviour and building up digital brands and sales channels. As the shopping experience on Amazon shows, eCommerce giants are not yet very successful in staging fashion as an experience.

At the same time, the job dress codes are softening. With the new freedom comes the increased need for advice and curating. Models such as Stitchfix in the USA or Outfittery in Germany show this. And for many women, when it comes to business fashion: I want to be top dressed, navigate fashion freedoms and at the same time buy my wardrobe as easily as possible. From my point of view a very good prerequisite for models like Styles4Work.

Do you use social media yourself?

Professionally I use LinkedIn and Deliveroo’s Facebook Workplace. Privately Facebook and Instagram.

Fashion is an emotional, very personal topic. Is there a business look for you that always fits?

I’ve been working in the start up environment for about 10 years. Compared to my time in consulting or at ProSiebenSat.1, my business look has become a bit more informal, playful and colourful. For example, I love 60s A-line dresses in bright colours such as chartreuse, orange or mustard yellow and combine them with a rocky leather jacket, ballerinas or booties. And as “always works” outfit: black skinny leather trousers, white blouse, a well-cut black blazer or a bouclé jacket and black high heels – ready.

Are there power colours for you on the job?

Personally, I like black and white, both monochrome and in combination – clear, straightforward and cool. In recent years I have discovered yellow, orange and green as feel-good and eye-catcher colours in the business world.

Do you include fashion trends into your work style?

I am a fan of a basic capsule wardrobe as the basis of my wardrobe, both privately and at work. To keep them looking new and exciting, each season I pick a few trends to combine with the basics. Instead of a classic pencil skirt, a paper bag skirt from Amorph Berlin, for example, which can be styled both casually and with blazers and loafers. Or a variation of the classic white blouse with wide bell sleeves, e.g. from Milly, with a Cigarette Pant.

What advice do you have for women who are still looking for their style?

Make notes when you see something beautiful – Pinterest, snapshots of window decoration or outfits on the “living object”. Take your time to watch, try on and try out. Talk to other women where they have bought a piece you like. Last, but not least: be choosy and don’t let trends impose on you. The wonderfully stylish Lauren Hutton once said: “Fashion is what you are offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.”

Which social topic is close to your heart?

Environmental protection and responsible use of resources. I am convinced that each of us can make a big difference on a small scale, even if it is annoying to change our natural consumption habits.

Currently, I am still taking very small steps but in 2018 I found the following surprisingly easy: for 20 long-haul trips in Germany, I deliberately chose the train instead of the plane. My wardrobe now consists to a very considerable extent of second-hand clothes. And my meat consumption has been drastically reduced. Sometimes I don’t eat meat for 4 weeks at a time, and I don’t really notice it.

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