Career programs in the Otto Group
Career programs in the Otto Group

Talent is there to be nurtured. This is the Otto Group’s aspiration and passion: to discover potential and develop abilities – while respecting individuality. Ronja Liebnau from the Otto Group’s HR Strategy & Talent Management Department provides an overview of the various career programs.

There is a wide range of career development programs at the Otto Group. What is the idea behind them?
Talent development is too important to leave to chance or to reliance on a single program or a roll of the die to advance your career. Everything that is important to us as the Otto Group – the Otto Group Path, our values, digital transformation, our commitment to diversity – is very closely linked to this issue. Change can only be brought about if managers fully identify with it and implement it in their teams and actively drive it forward. Moreover, we naturally have an interest in training our managers so that they will be optimally prepared for the challenges within a digitally transformed business environment and will view the changes positively. Everyone will then benefit from strong leaders.

What programs are there specifically?
Basically, it is clear that potential managers also need to be identified within the Group companies. On the one hand, this involves looking at who has the potential to become a manager and how this potential can be promoted and developed. At OTTO, for instance, the fit2LEAD program is used to train new managers – and there are similar programs in the other companies as well. On the other hand, at higher levels with more responsibility and greater decision-making scope, it is essential to explore the topics that are central to all our Group companies and the entire Otto Group collectively, in a networked manner, and across the Group. For example, everything that has to do with cultural change – a strong element that unites us all.

Which programs are at the Otto Group Holding level?
A great many! For example, there are programs aimed specifically at women. This used to be called Boost your Career. But then we realized that the program needed to be geared even more toward the needs of the target groups, so we split it up. MAP – Make a Plan Make a Plan is aimed at women who are still looking to find their career path and want to use the program to determine where they are at. The second program, Navigator, , is in turn aimed at established and experienced women in management positions. Here, the focus is on preparing the participants for the next career step, clarifying their own objectives, and networking. In addition to the programs, our co-leadership approach also makes contributions in the area of diversity.


So how does that work?
It is based on the idea that management is possible in tandem or as a team, not least because multi-perspective thinking is becoming all the more important in view of the growing demands made on managers. One way management roles can be shared is by having both people work sixty percent of the time. Other divisions are also conceivable. This allows us to address both men and women in equal measure. The aim here is to achieve a better work-life balance – be it volunteer work, hobbies, or family – including in management positions. We are convinced that everyone can benefit from management tandems.

What other programs are there in the Otto Group for promoting the next generation of managers?
For instance, there are three other programs of similar design that are aimed at different career levels. All of these programs are strongly aligned with our common Otto Group Guidelines, such as the Otto Group Path, the Code of Ethics, and, of course, Kulturwandel (Cultural Change) 4.0. Moreover, they focus on modern organizational design, responsibility, strategy and innovation, agility, and the enabling of lifelong learning. The General Management Program (GMP) focuses on department heads or equivalent specialist career positions. The Executive Development Program (EDP) adressiert Bereichsleiter*innen und äquivalente Positionen. addresses division managers and equivalent positions. And finally, there is the Top Executive Program (TED). The aim of TED is to identify future top managers. This program also involves working together to solve real challenges facing the Otto Group, referred to as TED-Challenges . The program ends with the TED-Talks, in which the participants report on their personal learning journey in a short presentation to as broad a group of colleagues as possible in the forum. This is always very exciting – in addition to colleagues from the organization, the Executive Board team is also present, as they are naturally highly interested in getting to know the new generation of potential successor candidates and top managers. The EDP and TED programs are in English. In the spirit of diversity and inclusion, this enables us to look beyond the borders of the German-speaking world, creating the opportunity to network even better with colleagues from the entire Otto Group worldwide and learn from each other.

How are the participants selected?
There is a limited number of available spots in all the programs. It is not possible to apply directly; nominations are made by the HR managers or managers in the respective Group companies. These managers are asked to nominate people who stand out thanks to their especially good performance. But that is not all. While someone may be doing a very good job, they may see their future primarily in the Group company where they are currently working. In this case, the programs will have a different focus. The Otto Group wants to promote even more collaboration between the Group companies, so it specifically promotes career paths across the Group. Therefore, these programs are aimed at people with a real “Otto Group Mindset” who also have a high degree of flexibility and a fundamental desire for mobility. We have another initiative that promotes this mobility as well: the HOW Challenge, where we provide the opportunity to work on an exciting task in another Group company for up to three months. This active exchange is very valuable and important for us – not least because it is a great way to allow the individual organizations to develop, along with each individual colleague who takes advantage of this opportunity.

Generally speaking, organizational development is a top priority at the Otto Group. Are there any special measures for bringing this about?
There certainly are. The further development of the organization, its adaptation to changing framework conditions, and the overhaul of structures and processes have been central to the Otto Group since the start of our Kulturwandel 4.0 (cultural change) process. Petra Scharner-Wolff, Group Chair of Finance, Controlling, and Human Resources, also proclaimed organizational development is being a topic close to her heart in 2022 to encourage everyone to get involved and promote the Otto Group’s adaptability and thus its future viability. Our special continuing education program allows us to further the development and exchange of knowledge on the topic of organizational development. In addition, with our Organizational Design Day, we offer a format where our employees can exchange and network on various facets of organizational development and benefit from synergies within the Otto Group. Here, everyone can get involved and make the Otto Group even better – because good organizational development can only succeed with a participatory approach.

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