June 2018 Member Spotlight

Fiona Liebehenz

June 2018

Head of Vendor Management – Pets, Amazon EU SARL (German Branch)

Can you tell us a bit about your background and your role?

“If you can dream it, you can do it” – this is my motto since forever. I am a very curious person, eager to understand why things are happening in a certain way, and then changing, reinventing or accelerating them. During my 11 years at Unilever, I had the chance to do that in different roles in field and key account management, marketing and brand development as well as general management in Germany and Switzerland.

Last summer I moved from the manufacturer to the retailer side and joined Amazon. After leading the vendor management for Personal Care Core Appliances in Germany and partly across Pan-EU, I am now heading the vendor management team for Pets in Germany, with partly Pan-EU & Global scale, and changing the way to buy Pet Food and Accessories. I just took over this new role in June and am still impressed by the opportunities in this market segment. I am also impressed by the differences Amazon can make for caring about Pets via, for instance, unique content, convenient fulfilment options or voice technology.

Why are you passionate about the mission of the LEAD Network?

I joined the LEAD Network in 2016 because I was inspired by a panel discussion that was led by the nowadays over 80-year-old Lore Maria Peschel-Gutzeit. Lore Maria is a famous German judge who invented several laws for advancing gender equality in Germany. She is still raising her voice for driving diversity.

During the discussion, I realized that based on my experiences I wrongly assumed that we had fully achieved gender equality. It made me feel that I wanted to contribute to the cause and raise the bar for diversity further. I want to serve as a role model for younger leaders and peers. In the end, it is all about doing, not trying and the LEAD Network provides a fantastic platform for this. Seeing all the great members, friendships I built and the differences we made while becoming the leading voice of our industry is really rewarding. I also believe that every minute I spend as Chair of the LEAD Network Marketing Committee will pay back twice.

What would you say is one of the most adventurous or riskiest moves you’ve made professionally?

Even if at the time it did not feel like that to me, as I felt positively challenged, when I moved to Switzerland and had to change 3 professional parameters at the same time, which mostly others saw as something challenging. When I moved to Switzerland, I did not only change country (from Germany to Switzerland), I also changed category (from Foods/ Ice Cream/ Personal Care to Home Care) and function (from sales to general management and marketing). My learning curve was very steep and I really enjoyed it. I was able to deliver fast by continuously asking questions and building deep relationships. This was a great experience that broadened my horizon and shaped my personal and professional style.

What then is a true challenge for you?

It’s a good question. Something that remains a challenge for me – especially when it goes against my own principles, is when people are lying or lack integrity. Over the time I had to learn that not everybody is always honest, but follows his or her own agenda. This puts a long-term relationship at risk. When you have to work together, this can really affect the trust, which remains very challenging to me. I have to solve case by case after deep observation and discussion with my mentors.

What’s driving you?

 A mentor once told me that it seems that I have a powerful engine full of motivation in myself that gives me constant energy. He wasn’t wrong. I am having fun by being a gamechanger, and having a positive contribution to the world, with meaningful innovation or by increasing equality and diversity. I have strong values, strong passion and strong dedication as I love to learn, meet new people, connect the dots, craft ideas and networks. It is grounded by my belief “If you can dream it, you can do it” – something my grandma, an incredible person, always told me.

What is the best advice you have gotten so far?

Over the time I received much good advice from different mentors and sponsors. The best ones which I aim to live up to are: 1. Articulate what you want to achieve and stand for it. 2. Take on opportunities as it is not natural to have them. 3. Do things you are passionate about. 4. Measure yourself against your true best, not against others.