Women in Leadership Roles at Kaufland e-commerce

In our new series of blog posts, “Women in Leadership Roles at KEC”, we’ll let the leaders speak for themselves. They’ll provide fascinating insights into their career paths and describe what they think makes a leadership style stand out. Here to get the ball rolling are Friederike, Commercial Director of Marketplace, and Stefanie, Head of Partner Management & B2B Marketing.

Friederike, as Director, you’re responsible for the commercial area of the marketplace. What do you like best about your position?

Friederike, Commercial Director Marketplace

This question doesn’t have a quick and snappy answer; I really like everything about my position.

No one day is just like another. The topics that come to my desk span a huge range: We’re one of the quickest growing marketplaces in Europe, but are in a challenging situation within the market. Every day, my team and I face new (positive) challenges in trying to find a solid path for marketplace business to develop and increase in success for both our sellers and our partners.

Tell us more about your background. How did you get to the job you’re in now?

I have a typical business studies background. After I finished my education, I decided to provide advice to customers on various topics by becoming a management consultant, which obviously took me all over – Berlin, New York, Dublin, and Santa Monica, to name just a few project locations.

At some point I grew tired of living out of a suitcase. I began optimising the customer journey for various product categories at Wayfair, and was responsible for all upholstery as well as the Polish sellers.

In the end, the special culture at Kaufland e-Commerce was the reason I started in 2020 as the Head of Marketplace Development. In this position, I was responsible for all the overarching projects in marketplace management, as well as controlling. I’ve been in charge of marketplace management generally for Kaufland e-Commerce since April 2023 and am loving the challenge.

How did I get to where I am today? When I think about the last few places I landed, there was always someone there who I looked up to, who both supported and challenged me. I suppose these people are the reason.


You operate in a sector made up largely of men. Has this led to any specific challenges in your career?

I’d rather rephrase that question. I USED TO BE in a sector made up largely of men. In my current position, that’s no longer the case.

In the past, being in this situation absolutely brought challenges to my career; then again, I always saw them as opportunities. Opportunities to stand out from the crowd and to prove that women can succeed in a domain filled with men. I’m pretty sure that this is also the reason that I am the person who I am today and the reason I’m exactly where I am.

What constitutes a good leadership style for you?

I think a good leadership style stands out when it is individual and flexible based on different situations. No two employees and no two situations are the same. They can’t be corseted into the same shape, so to speak, and each needs its own leadership style.

In your opinion, how can we better support young women’s paths towards management positions?

I think the path to a leadership position is a mixture of support and challenge. That applies not only to young women, but also just as much to young men.

  • Support: With feedback and coaching, we can offer every employee support in difficult situations along their career path – for example, towards a management position. But it doesn’t always have to have management as an end goal. In my career, the people who paved the way for me were my mentors, some of whom I proactively sought out.
  • Challenge: I see challenge as the counterpoint to support. I don’t think that anyone can take a management position if they aren’t ready to push the boundaries beyond the usual extent, to develop themselves and challenge themselves.

The advice I’d give to anyone who’s aiming for a management position is to see every challenge as an opportunity: You can only grow when you’re challenged. Even when this challenge sometimes feels like jumping in at the deep end: Take a breath, jump in, start swimming and be proud that you’ve done it! And if the chance presents itself, I heartily recommend you raise your hand and call out “I will!”

Stefanie, how about you? You’re Head of Partner Management & B2B Marketing. You manage our relationships with our business partners. What appeals to you in this job?

We have lots of things to do in our department: We onboard technical partners, convert marketing into seller acquisition, manage agencies that recruit sellers for us, and take care of the external presence and communication for the Kaufland Global Marketplace brand. So we’re concurrently moving on several playing fields which are all in some way related to each other. This colourful bouquet of responsibilities offers a huge variety and a large range of dynamics, which makes our jobs incredibly multifaceted and always interesting.


We want to know more about your path here: How did you get to the job you’re in now?

I think some of my colleagues’ CVs start with a variation of the same sentence: “Once upon a time, there was an intern at a company called Hitflip Media Trading GmbH…”

I’ve done nearly everything in this company. I’ve made calls with customers and with sellers; I’ve written SEO posts and I spent a year in the HR department. Working in direct sales when we were Hitmeister, I bought goods for our warehouse. When we were acquired by real I found my way to the department where I still am today: Partner management and B2B marketing. Back then, the scope of tasks was rather narrower. With the growth of the marketplace, first as real.de and then as Kaufland.de, my tasks also increased and I took on new areas of responsibility.

I have been able to gain an incredible amount of experience in the marketplace business with a lot of dedication, a tireless drive for company growth and a high degree of team player spirit. Thanks to lots of networking within the industry and my work in so many different areas, I have a wide span of resources to fall back on during my daily interactions with our partners.


What’s especially important to you as a manager when dealing with your team?

It’s important that we all are aimed in the same direction and have an eye on the same goals. To get there, we need open communication, transparency within our work and the ability to get excited about a lot of things, which always brings fresh wind to our sails and drives us forward. When we talk to each other, trust and valuing each other’s work are crucial for our teamwork. That’s the only way we can stay motivated and make our work fun every single day.

My favourite principle is “Shoot for the moon”. In a few years, we’ll be one of the most significant e-commerce companies in Europe. As a team, we’ll work toward this goal with commitment and creativity. Later on, everyone in my team will remember what they contributed when it’s time to celebrate. 

Stefanie, Head of Partner Management & B2B Marketing

Women are still underrepresented in positions of management. Would you say that you’ve faced specific challenges purely because of your gender over the years?

I had someone who paved the way for me, and did it very well. Every path I took, Claudia Bolten had already trodden it as my manager. Personally, I have never seen my gender as a career hurdle in this company.

Although sometimes – yes, due to my gender – it’s been a bit of a balancing act. When I came back from parental leave, I had the massive opportunity to pick up my previous position leading my department, even with reduced hours. This marketplace is my heart and soul, so of course I was eager to take up my old mantle again. But seeing as how women in our society are still taking on the majority of raising and caring for children, I do find it a challenge to manage the balancing act between time at work and time spent with our daughter. Mobile working is a great help in this case: It lets me combine both responsibilities very easily.

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What advice would you give women (and men) who are hoping for a position in management?

Full speed ahead! Be innovative. Be proactive. Gather as much experience as you can, both within your scope of responsibility and outside it. Exchange ideas. And most of all: Be brave! If you never leave your comfort zone, you’ll never grow. So don’t be afraid to try new things. Just as important, though: Be ready to suggest new ways and new ideas, even if they might cost you effort and energy.

Leaders move forward. They eliminate barriers and build bridges. They make sure everyone stays on track and that everyone who is sharing the journey is doing well. Every team member has different needs. Leadership doesn’t only mean responsibility for the company. It is also a large social responsibility towards your team. 

 Thank you so much for this fascinating interview, Friederike and Stefanie.