As Vice President Strategy Execution at Arvato, Göksun is responsible for standardizing processes and the associated IT systems as well as implementing strategic digital and IT initiatives in the TECH business unit. Her job is to make processes in warehouses around the world as uniform and efficient as possible. Just a few years ago, she wouldn't have believed she would one day hold this position, because the usual career path at Arvato wasn’t something she identified with. Instead, she has been able to create her own role.
What did you do before you joined Bertelsmann?
Bertelsmann is my first employer. Before that, I completed my Bachelor of Arts in International Business Studies at the University of Paderborn and the CEMS Master in International Management as well as the Master of Science in Business Administration at the University of Cologne. I studied abroad as well, at the Nova in Lisbon, the Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, and the ESADE in Barcelona. I took advantage of every opportunity to go abroad. In addition, I have been working in the restaurant business on and off since I was 13 years old. I am at home in Niebüll on the North Sea coast and worked in restaurants and cafés on the island of Sylt during the (semester) vacations. This is also how I earned the money for a year in Australia after graduating from high school and paid for my studies.
When did you first hear about Bertelsmann?
As part of my master's degree, I completed an international internship at Arvato in the Netherlands in 2010 and was responsible for responding to RFPs from potential new customers. At the time, Arvato was completely unknown there, and it was a big challenge to win new customers. Today, we have one of our largest warehouses there and can't grow fast enough to make space for all the new customers. After I finished my studies, it quickly became clear that I wanted to join Arvato.
Did you ever think you would one day have the job you have now?
Never. When I started at Arvato, I realized very quickly that routine tasks don't make me happy in the long term. I feel comfortable in a project environment that provides new challenges every day. Back then, I was given a new project every few months, worked in different countries, warehouses and with previously unknown colleagues. The job was full of variety and just right for me. However, I wanted to make a career for myself. At the time, there was only one real way to do that at Arvato, and that was through account management. However, the job had too much routine for my taste, so I turned down a lot of good offers. I spent a long time wondering whether I might have ruined all my career opportunities. Fortunately, my boss understood this and worked with me to find alternatives. Now we've found a niche position for me and I'm totally happy that I didn't have to take the typical path.
"I am motivated by talking to people from all over the world, which makes it possible to look at certain tasks from different angles."
Was this niche position created especially for you?
I was involved with the right issues at the right time and was able to prove that you can be successful with a certain amount of patience and assertiveness. My boss gave me the chance to try it and together we were able to further expand the position until it was the one I hold today.
How would you describe your job to your grandmother?
My job is to make the work of our warehouse employees as easy and efficient as possible by harmonizing processes and systems together with them and our IT. At the same time, I look at what new digital topics are out there and whether they are relevant for us. If they are, we try them out, and ideally they make the routine tasks for other colleagues or customers easier. Many things have meanwhile become so complex that you need someone to unravel and simplify them.
Has there ever been a fork in your career path? Which way did you take?
Time and again. Since I traveled a lot within Arvato for work, there were frequent job offers locally, for example in Hong Kong, where I worked for quite a while, or in the United States. If I had accepted them, it would have turned my life completely upside down. But I always decided to come back to Germany, not least because of my family and friends, as well as my boyfriend, who was very supportive of me and who always encouraged me when I wanted to get away for a while. This has allowed him to see a lot of the world, too
What motivates you?
I'm motivated by success stories and the freedom to approach things in my own way, taking responsibility and working on new issues. I am also motivated by talking to people from all over the world, which makes it possible to look at certain tasks from different angles.
Entrepreneurship and creativity are the core values of Bertelsmann. What do they mean to you?
Bertelsmann lets you take on a lot of responsibility very quickly. This gives you the freedom to work on a topic independently. There is no preset path; you can also try things out. What's more, you don't have to be afraid of trying something new. Especially with digital solutions, you can really let your imagination run wild, because with the new tools, almost anything is now possible. You just have to be creative enough to free yourself from tunnel thinking and find new ways.
"You just have to be creative enough to free yourself from tunnel thinking and find new ways."
How do you try to find balance in your life?
I find the balance to my work in nature, be it in my own garden or on the other side of the world in the jungle or at the sea. I am very active and like to travel to long-distance destinations. That's where I can soak up the sun and energy, go exploring, unwind and forget that Arvato exists.
What makes a good leader?
Good leaders place trust in their employees, give them responsibility and regularly inquire whether everything is working well, whether something is missing and whether support is needed. They communicate as equals – ideally, hierarchy is not apparent, in a meeting, for example. It is also important that managers can clearly prioritize and make decisions. Last but not least, they ensure that people have a bit of fun at work and enjoy being part of their team.
What makes you happy?
Professionally? When I can check something off because it really is finished. I often see projects left unfinished because one last small but essential step has not been taken. I am particularly satisfied when the value of what my team and I have done becomes apparent at the end. Privately, I love to travel with my boyfriend. We like to discover new countries and cultures. The world is so incredibly big and diverse, and I'm happy that you can always experience, discover and learn something new.
Who or what inspires you?
People who have the courage to do things differently than usual. They dare to try things out, are not afraid of confrontation, have a vision and can inspire others. This type of person is often found in start-ups, but also at Arvato. People who start something often don't know what the end result of their actions will be, but they enthusiastically set out to get there. That inspires me.
What matters to you as you create your own career?
There are many things that are very important to me. For example, that I continue to have the freedom to define to a certain extent my own area of work, that I enjoy the trust of my supervisor, that I have freedom in decision-making and thus responsibility for my topics, and that I can continue to work with a great team on exciting tasks
"I try to inspire others not to let obstacles throw them off track, but to work out new creative solutions."
What comes to mind when you think of your future career?
The importance of supply chains continues to grow. We are experiencing bottlenecks in the flow of goods, and many processes will have to be made more efficient and transparent in the future. Digitalization is becoming increasingly important. As a result, the topic of standardization is also coming more to the fore, as digitalization requires standardization. I could probably deal with that until I retire. But who knows what will come next? I am and will remain curious.
Which of your passions do or will play a major role in your career?
I am open and curious and enjoy working with people in a team. That's why I've built up a large global network. Most of the time I go forward with great enthusiasm and try to inspire others not to let obstacles throw them off track, but to work out new creative solutions.