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MEET Sabine Müller, mentor and power woman

Sabine Mueller has a challenging and responsible job in a management position. She is also passionate about promoting female leaders. That sounds like the epitome of female empowerment to us. More than reason enough to ask Sabine some personal questions.

Sabine Mueller has been working in the logistics industry for almost two decades. During her career, she has worked in various areas, including strategy, corporate organization and consulting. She is now CEO of DHL Consulting, the independent strategic supply chain and management consultancy of the Deutsche Post DHL Group. She manages 120 consultants worldwide. A job with enormous responsibility, which she carries out with a great enthusiasm and foresight.

Another of her passions is the advancement and support of women in management positions. For her, this is a fundamental prerequisite for corporate success. Sabine Mueller is convinced that a variety of perspectives and leadership styles lead to better decisions.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

I always wanted to be a vet when I was a child. Later when I grew up, I knew that I would love to have my own company.

Was or is there a role model for you?

When I was young, Pippi Langstrumpf was my role model. I like her naughty, independent nature. Today I have several role models that inspire me with what they do or how they do it. My former boss, for example, gave me a lot of trust and freedom to act and I quickly realized how much this motivates me. Sheryl Sandberg’s books and articles have inspired me to push for more gender equality in leadership positions.

From today’s point of view, what were your three decisive success factors?

1. Leaving my comfort zone and embracing my fears.
2. Having the courage to ask for what I want.
3. Dedication, endurance, enthusiasm and humour.

Do you hire more men or women and what are the crucial aspects?

Currently, DHL Consulting is 70 per cent men and 30 per cent women but we are pushing hard to change this. Our hiring aspiration for this year is 50:50 – however, this is easier said than done. 75 per cent of the applications we got in 2018 were from male candidates.

As such, we have defined a set of measures to increase the number of female applicants. My social media activities are one example; we are also hosting a number of female recruiting events this year to serve as an empowering platform to attract candidates and discuss career development opportunities.

Another crucial aspect is to eliminate bias throughout the recruiting process. We all occasionally fall into the trap of favouring candidates who think alike or remind us of ourselves. This is something we’re very conscious of and all our interviewers are trained to stop this from happening.

Do we need quotas for women or are there alternative approaches for you?

We do not need quotas, but leaders need to make diversity a priority on their agendas. My approach is to foster an environment where women and people from all walks of life are valued. Diversity works best when everyone in an organization believes in it.

Why do you believe that diversity leads to better decisions?

My experience shows that diverse teams bring together various perspectives and backgrounds. They question cognitive bias and shared assumptions; this fosters innovative ideas, high quality output, and better decision-making. There is no doubt that driving a diversity agenda creates tangible value to the business.
Digitalization constantly challenges the business-as-usual approach and forces us as leaders to question our operating model. Embracing diversity in the way you think and operate as a business is critical to maintaining a competitive edge in today’s changing environment.

What makes a good (female) manager for you?

In my opinion, the understanding of what makes a great leader is not gender specific. Since I started my career, the idea of what makes a great leader has evolved. Functional expertise, quick decision-making, and the right personality traits are no longer enough to navigate through the complexity of today’s business environment. Our emotional intelligence, empathy, and ability to manage personal relationships matter more than ever. We must become more trusting, agile, flexible, collaborative, and creative to thrive in the digital age. All these capabilities heavily rely on connecting and engaging with people effectively.

How long is your working day?

It depends and that is the great thing about my job. I travel about 30 per cent of my time and spend another 10-15 per cent in my mobile office. If I am in the office, I am an early bird, starting around 8 am and leaving around 7 pm.

Do you have a tip for women on their career path?

See question No. 3 and enjoy what you do!

In your opinion, how important is a suitable business outfit?

Within seconds, we form an opinion about someone we meet for the first time, even before that person starts talking. Therefore, I think a suitable business outfit is very important. That’s not to say that you can’t find ways of incorporating your personal style but in a professional setting, and especially when working with clients, it’s important to look professional too. For women, it is even more difficult to find a great business outfit. I am a real fan of styles4work. I get a lot of inspiration and cool tips from there. Beyond that, your outfit can affect your state of mind. You want it to help you in whichever setting you are in.