Sebastian Strache will become the Otto Group's sole Group Vice President HR with effect from September 1, 2023. Sandra Widmaier-Gebauer, responsible for Group Human Resources for many years and in co-leadership with Strache since May 1, 2022 wishes to withdraw from public duties at her own request. Oliver Goede will succeed Sebastian Strache at Hanseatic Versicherungsdienst.
Sandra Widmaier-Gebauer applied the same careful planning and reliability to her departure into private life that she demonstrated for over two decades in taking responsibility for and advancing matters of human resources within the Otto Group. The 56-year-old has shared her position as Vice President HR with her current successor in a co-leadership model since May 2022. Sebastian Strache will take sole charge on September 1, 2023 at her request.
This marks the end of an era. Sandra Widmaier-Gebauer joined the company OTTO in 2000 as Director Human Resources International. In this position, she was mainly entrusted with international and expatriate management. The qualified economist and social scientist was appointed Head of the Otto Group’s Human Resources Division in 2005. She was responsible for the Group’s HR strategy, talent management, labor relations and collective bargaining law, the company pension scheme, the Learning Hub, the Otto Group Academy and the recruitment and support of the Managing Directors and Group Vice Presidents in the holding company.
Sandra Widmaier-Gebauer is also chairwoman and lead negotiator of the collective bargaining commission of the Hamburg retail association and a member of the board of the employers’ association’s bargaining policy committee. She will remain in this position on behalf of the Otto Group until the end of the 2023/24 financial year. “Sandra has inspired an entire generation of Otto Group managers with her energy and vision, has guided the Group through several restructuring processes and has represented our interests in negotiations with the works councils and trade unions in a consistent, approachable and fair manner,” emphasizes Group Executive Board member Petra Scharner-Wolff. “We are therefore bidding her farewell with respect and gratitude for this great achievement.”
Sebastian Strache is familiar with the Otto Group from a variety of perspectives and functions, which he fulfilled with outstanding know-how and exceptional leadership. After several positions at P&C Düsseldorf, the 53-year-old, fully qualified attorney took over as Head of Human Resources and Legal at the Witt Group, Weiden, in 2010. His remit there focused on restructuring human resources management and inspiring progress in cultural development. He was appointed Division Manager Culture Change at Hermes Germany in September 2018, where he helped to oversee the company’s realignment. He has been a member of the Executive Board of Hanseatic Versicherungsdienst (HVD) since November 1, 2019 and was appointed sole Managing Director of the Otto Group subsidiary on March 1, 2020. Strache remained in this position, even after accepting the co-leadership role with Sandra Widmaier-Gebauer. He has made a decisive contribution to the evolution and modernization of HVD, also by introducing a new broker management system. Now he will remain on the HVD Executive Board as a member without portfolio.
Strache will be succeeded as Managing Director by Oliver Goede with effect from September 1, 2023. The 52-year-old business economist has a track record as a proven insurance expert and successful manager. After periods with R+V Versicherung and Palatina Versicherungsservice GmbH, Oliver Goede was Managing Director of SCHOTT-Zeiss Assekuranzkontor GmbH from 2013 to 2017. He then led Bilfinger Corporate Insurance Management GmbH as Managing Director. Strache has headed the HVD Group Insurance Division since 2020.
Petra Scharner-Wolff: “I am delighted that in Sebastian Strache for the Human Resources Division and Oliver Goede for management of HVD, we have recruited two strong personalities who will lead the way with strategic vision, outstanding commitment and a positive management style. I wish them both the best of success with their new tasks.”
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Founded in 1949 in Germany, the Otto Group is today a globally operating e-commerce and service group with around 41,000 employees in 30 significant corporate groups, primarily present in the three economic areas of Germany, the rest of Europe, and the USA. Its business activities extend to the Platforms, Brand Concepts, Retailers, Services, and Financial Services segments. In the 2022/23 financial year (28 February), the Otto Group generated revenue of EUR 16.2 billion. With online sales of around EUR 12 billion, the Otto Group is among the world’s largest online retailers. The Group’s main strength is its broad-based presence with various ranges of products for diverse target groups in important regions around the world. A number of strategic partnerships and joint ventures offer the Otto Group outstanding conditions for the transfer of know-how and the use of synergy potential. A high degree of entrepreneurial responsibility and the Group companies’ willingness to collaborate guarantee both flexibility and customer proximity along with optimal appeal to target groups in each country.