Strong Voices Interview #7: RAPHAELA HAUSBERG - Group Director at ALDI
Raphaela has been part of ALDI for more than 12 years now, started as an IT Analyst in 2009, and took over the position as Group Director in 2018. She is married and has two kids. For us, she is an incredible strong voice – she asks the right questions and goes to the bottom of the problem to then find pragmatic solutions. Her drive, authenticity and the irrepressible urge to learn and improve things make her a role model, not just for me. With her enthusiasm and honest reflection of her experiences, she has made our entire AMELI team admirers and I am incredibly grateful to be able to share our interview with you.
"I strongly believe that working full time and having two children must be compatible in our times –both for myself and for my husband without switching roles." - Raphaela Hausberg
OUR QUESTIONS FOR RAPHAELA:
You've been with ALDI SOUTH for over 12 years and held a variety of positions there. What are the most important lessons you have learned from your professional journey so far? What difficulties did you encounter, and how did you deal with them?
One of the most important things I’ve learned is to be and stay authentic. I spend so much time working – I want to be able to be myself for such a large part of the day. In that sense, my experience also shows that my leadership team as well as my employees appreciate authenticity and open communication. Most often, I am rewarded with their loyalty and a team that pulls together to reach common goals.
So when I think about how I got to where I am now, creating team spirit through authenticity is only one piece of the puzzle. I also believe that you should also make your performance at work a priority. You create trust by doing a great job and acting upon your promises. Looking back on my career, there have been additional factors: firstly, I believe that working on the right topics that create visibility matters. It is important that you pursue those projects that provide visibility. Talk about and take pride in your work. Especially women tend to ‘just do their job’ without presenting, pushing forward, and appreciating what they are doing. One of my former bosses was a good teacher in this respect and always told me, ‘You need to take on this project.’ or ‘You have to hold this presentation.’ And I still appreciate this very much, because, at the end of the day, it is not only your performance that leads to your promotion, but also the people supporting you. Secondly, listen to your superiors as well as your team members – everyone has something valuable to contribute – and never stop asking questions. There is always something new to learn. And lastly, think like an entrepreneur in order to make the ‘right’ decisions by taking into account what is most important for the company as a whole and not only for your own area of responsibility.
Many women still hesitate to enter the field of IT because it is considered to be very male- dominated. How did you first decide to go into the IT sector, and what were your experiences?
To be honest, this thought never crossed my mind. This gender-topic was never on my mind. When it came to job applications, I did what most people do. I looked at my skillset (I was good at maths), the occupations of my parents, who both had an affinity for IT (so I grew up with IT) and decided to do an internship in the field of IT, which I enjoyed a lot. Afterwards, I started my Business Mathematics studies at TU Dortmund, which enabled me to learn more about IT. This is when my real passion for IT was born.
Looking back, my first internship was perhaps also one reason why I never actually thought about IT being a male-dominated field. During my internship, my former project manager was a woman; she had a remarkable standing within the company and was extremely good at her job, so I never got the feeling that you couldn’t do such a job as a woman. On the contrary, it seemed totally normal and natural to me how she went about her job. This is probably also a reason why I never felt any reluctance to enter the field of IT.
Of course, in my current position as a leader, I realise that I am the only woman or one of few to attend leadership meetings or steering committees. Nevertheless, I’ve learned how to deal with that over the years, and I even think that it can be an advantage to be a woman in a male-dominated environment. Women also have a talent for quickly recognising social power structures within their environment – this stands you in good stead for speaking to the right person in the right manner and being heard.
Do you have a certain principle or quote you try to live by and that motivates you?
‘Sift the essential from the inessential in order to concentrate on what really matters.’ Our world is becoming more and more complex and multilayered. Dissecting problems helps me to better understand the world and concentrate on what is most important to fulfill my job. I like the quote because it is quite useful – also for my personal life, but I don’t live by it. Instead, I like to focus on certain topics that I would like to personally tackle. To do so, I write down personal quotes or affirmations in a small diary that strongly encourage me along my personal and professional journey at that particular moment.
As a full-time working mother, you have great responsibility at work, as well as at home. How do you manage to juggle everything and (do you) still have time for yourself?
When it comes to mastering everyday life, taking time for myself is certainly a luxury. However, I strongly believe that working full time and having two children must be compatible in our times – both for myself and for my husband without switching roles. In this regard, it is very important to have a partner that has no traditional views regarding gender roles in a household. I am fortunate enough to have such a supportive husband who definitely helps to make my life easier and is my biggest fan, which I firmly appreciate. We can manage anything together and we will make things work is our belief statement. Our everyday lives are very well structured. When something unforeseen happens, we try to keep cool, work on solutions that work for both of us, and succeed in mastering the situation together. Of course, in order to do so, I had to learn a lot about setting boundaries – if I do not set them, no one else will do it for me either. Key for me was to know that I am doing a great job at work and to have faith in my abilities. This allows me to say no, set boundaries, and ask for space. It takes a great deal of self-confidence to do so, but it is so essential – especially when it comes to working from home.
It might sound easy, but believe me it is easier said than done. My husband and I reflect a lot on ourselves and what we need – also as individuals – to keep the right work-life balance.
Is there any advice you would give ambitious young women to achieve their goals?
Just be authentic. It is far too exhausting to present yourself as someone you are not, considering how much effort it takes to become truly successful. However, it is important to think about how we want our professional environment to perceive us and somehow find a happy medium in this regard. Then, focus on personal marketing, position yourself, and push conversations on topics you are interested in. This does not necessarily mean that you should put yourself in the centre of attention, but your skills and achievements. In order to achieve your professional goals, it is essential to build a well-established professional network with both male and female professionals, especially considering that managerial positions tend to be male-dominated. I cannot stress enough that I would advise ambitious young women to set boundaries. This is a challenge which both men and women face and it is so important not to lose yourself in your work. In the end, try not to overthink things. I have always wanted to make progress in my professional development – and I believe that I have come a long way since first embarking on my career. Another word of advice would be to think like an entrepreneur; think as if the company belonged to you!