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It was supposed to be the type of introduction that would help to break the ice between a new business leader and her direct reports. However, the words spoken by the managing director (MD) became frozen in time.
Or at least in the memory of Virpy Richter, who at the age of 27 had only recently relocated from Germany after having accepted a promotion to oversee the finances of her company’s Dutch operating unit.
“This is the German girl from our central unit. Be nice to her. She is just visiting us,” Richter recalls the MD saying, as her 25 direct reports curiously stared back at her.
In retrospect, the MD might even be commended for having had language skills sufficient to so thoroughly and completely undermine a colleague in the space of a few short sentences, which was no small feat considering that he was able to reference Richter’s youth, gender, and nationality while at the same time even summoning doubts about the permanence of her position.
While these words remain frozen in time for Richter, the lesson that she would carry forth from this role involved more their aftermath.
“This was my first leadership role, so my response was much more intuitive because at that age I had not taken any leadership seminars and didn’t have any past experiences on which to draw,” explains Richter, who says that her intuition told her to be a good listener.
“Listen to the people—listen to their expectations and let them help you to understand,” she explains.
Fast-forward a number of years, and Richter is once more crossing borders—this time into Russia, where she is working as a senior finance professional for myToys, a large German e-commerce retailer.
Says Richter: “I had three months to set up the Russian entity, recruit the people, and make the goods available because we wanted to be operating by Christmas.”
Today, Richter resides in Germany, where as CFO of Awin Global she applies her cross-border lessons to the global operations of Awin’s quickly expanding affiliate marketing network. –Jack Sweeney
Guest: Virpy Richter
Company: Awin Global
Headquarters: Berlin, Germany
Richter: As you can imagine, our business model is generating a lot of data. We are providing a lot of data to our partners, to our advertisers, and to our publishers. We have Tableau reports that are helping us to visualize all of what’s happening, and we have a lot of BI reports to help reveal the different trends.
Just to give you one example of what we’ve done, during this coronavirus crisis we’ve built an industry tracker that is now helping us to better understand different segments and different regions and how are they performing. For instance, you can compare the retail businesses in Europe to the ones in U.S. and the ones in Brazil, which can be very helpful during times of crisis such as this.
We’re now working to gather this type of information and data and create what I would call an “executive dashboard” because using your time to separately study five different sources or segments is not really practical. We wanted a condensed view that would include the five numbers that you want to be looking at, so that’s what we are currently working on. jb