In the same way as OTTO is being transformed from a retailer to a platform, the group’s corporate culture has also evolved tangibly over the last few decades – from the old German shipping pioneer to a modern, innovative tech corporation. People and their individual skills are at the heart of what we do at OTTO. We promote openness, courage, autonomy and a results-oriented approach. We want to bring the skills and potential of all our colleagues to the fore. The three short portraits below demonstrate what diversity, openness and tolerance can do for the company.
Marcus Albertsson | Technical Designer
Travelling is formative. Travelling opens up perspectives on people from other cultures. Travelling connects. Travelling is an adventure. For Markus Albertsson, Technical Designer at OTTO, visiting and experiencing different countries is a key part of life. “We Swedes are a travelling nation. I have become familiar with many different countries, peoples, (working) cultures and working methods, both through holidays with my family when I was younger and in a professional context as I grew older”, Markus explains. “When I started a family, I hankered for stability and moved from Ireland to Hamburg. Here a friend told me about OTTO and the job suited me perfectly.” To this day Markus still finds being part of a multicultural team, in which English is the main language, very enriching.
His experiences have taught him a few life lessons. “Changing perspectives, being open, reigning back your expectations and engaging with new things – all of these things help us develop. This applies not just to cooperating within the team, but also to communicating with other departments at OTTO outside of the team itself.” Diversity is an important building block of success for him and his colleagues. “Diversity is here to stay and is very important in my view – both for the growth of the individual and that of the company.” When many different cultures come together, there is an opportunity to learn from one another, to push each other, to cooperate and to communicate supportively with each other.
Anandhi Haridass | IT Marketplace Developer
Let us delve deep into the box of clichés. “A developer in an IT marketplace? That’s obviously a man’s job.” Except that this is about a female developer in OTTO’s IT marketplace. “As a developer I work in a field that is dominated by men – and it’s fantastic! They’re all very direct, cooperative and practical. Since I’m like that too, it’s the ideal working environment from my point of view,” Anandhi explains.
How does she work with her team? They have a discussion first thing in the morning and then work together on projects while giving mutual support and learning from each other every day. Every personality is unique in her team, “and I am a valuable member of the team and valued by others. I’ve previously worked in many countries including my native India, the UK and the USA. Each country has its own wonderful peculiarities,” Anandhi recounts enthusiastically. When asked where she has felt the most at home, she can’t choose between them. But what she can say is, “OTTO has come to feel like home for me now. With this in mind, my motto in life is ‘The way you feel shapes the world around you.’ And here is simply where I feel comfortable.”
Katja Narjes | Executive Assistant
When you ask Katja how she came to work at OTTO, her answer is rather impressive. “I saw OTTO’s brochure when I was very young and knew that this was it! This is the company I want to work for. In fact, the more I understood about economics, the more I wanted to come and work here. I understood what OTTO stands for and how OTTO is clearly different from other employers. People are the company’s core focus. People as employees, people as customers and partners, people as individuals.” Katja sees herself as a creative mind, loves extreme activities and variety in life. She has never really asked herself whether she is hetero-, bi- or homosexual. “I am what I am and I like what I like – irrespective of gender. I’ve never had a discriminating experience due to my sexual orientation – not with my parents, not in school, not at work, and neither as a teenager nor as an adult. I never had a coming-out. Why not? I was confident with my sexuality from the very beginning and never suppressed anything,” Katja recalls. She has been living with a woman for more than 10 years now – “the only complicated thing is the lack of space for twice the number of shoes in our inner-city apartment. If you live freely with your sexual orientation, you’re free too – and that’s the most important thing, that’s the secret.”
How important is it for her to be open about LGBTIQ*? “Everyone has the right to be who they want – that’s the only way that we can enjoy life to the full and find freedom.” OTTO is now taking an active approach with its own network and is standing up for LGBTIQ*. “Personally I am proud to be LGBTIQ*. That’s why I think it’s extremely important to be open about it.”
What sounds completely normal for Katja is not yet normal for many other people. Many do not have the confidence to come out in their work environment. OTTO puts great emphasis on the diversity of its employees – in Pride Week, yes, and in every other week of the year too.