“I want to be the kind of leader I myself would like to have”

GET TO KNOW Sarah Althoff, head of customer care in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and the youngest leader at identity and security company Nexus Group. “I had not had staff responsibility before, and I am really happy that I have received this great opportunity to prove myself,” says Sarah Althoff.

Why are you working at Nexus?

“We decided to move from Berlin to my hometown Essen last year, and I needed a new job. I worked at Siemens, which is a very large company, and I thought I wanted to continue to work in a similar enterprise. But then I saw an ad about Nexus looking for team members for their customer center, and it sounded interesting.

“Since the company only has 300 employees globally I did not really think the job would suit me, but I applied anyways. And I am glad I did, because I changed my mind during the job interviews.

“I got a very positive feeling straight away, and when I accepted the job offer and started working at Nexus in June of 2016, my skills were really cherished, my improvement ideas were valued and I got a lot of both support and responsibility. In addition, I really appreciate the agile working environment at Nexus,” says Sarah Althoff.

What are you working on now?

“After less than six months on the job, customer care and support was reorganized and I was offered the role as team leader for customer care. I had not had staff responsibility before, and I am really happy that I have received this great opportunity to prove myself.

“I still take part in completing our daily tasks, but in addition to that I am also motivating and guiding my four team members, and strategizing.

“The main strategic topic at the moment is to harmonize the processes for hardware and software, and to make sure that all team members can handle both parts. At the same time, I want the team members to work with what they like best, since that makes them more motivated, which in turns results in a better-done job,” says Sarah Althoff.

How would your colleagues describe you?

“I hope and believe that the people in my team and the people in sales and project management see me as a team player. We work closely with sales, and I think they appreciate that I am committed and make sure that they get everything they need in time, so that we get happy customers. I am reliable, and if I for some reason am not able to deliver what I have promised I am sure to communicate it clearly.

I also try to create a good atmosphere in my team, and I try to make sure that my team members do not have too much or too little to do. I want to be the kind of leader I myself would like to have. I try to be there for my team members, and I am open to input and new ideas about how we can improve,” says Sarah Althoff.

What will happen to customer care when a bigger percentage of sales are made online?

“I think more and more of the things we do today will be automated. Orders, confirmations, shipping and invoicing will one day be handled without manual involvement when it comes to standard business.

“This means that we will get more time for projects that are not as standardized. Nexus is also working more with partner sales, and I think that the task of supporting the sales team in creating the best possible contracts with partners and to manage those contracts will be handled by us,” says Sarah Althoff.

Describe an ordinary day in the life of Sarah!

“I arrive at the office at about 8:30 AM, and then I check my email and prioritize my tasks for the day. At 9:00 AM, the customer care team has a daily stand-up meeting, in which we talk about what we are going to do during the day.

“After the stand up, I drink my first coffee of the day. We have free fruit at the office, and most days that is my breakfast.

“The rest of the day, I work in front of my computer. I am a big fan of to-do lists and try to stick to my list, but most days I get derailed by urgent emails and phone calls prompting me to reprioritize.

“I leave the office at 5:30–6:00 PM, and due to the traffic I get home pretty late. Sometimes I go for a run with a friend, but most weekday evenings are pretty quiet. I eat dinner with my husband and try to relax on the sofa, watching TV series and talking about the day,” says Sarah Althoff.