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Created on 22.06.2023

HR or specialist: these are the leadership competencies that are needed

Employees have different needs when it comes to career opportunities. That’s why attractive employers such as PostFinance support both management and specialist careers. In this interview, manager Clarissa Turi and specialist expert Cédric Sieber explain the types of leadership competency that each of them requires.

Clarissa Turi, Head of Channel Management (left), and Cédric Sieber, Everyday Banking Customer Journey Owner, are happy with their career paths at PostFinance.

“Usually, it’s not the company but the leaders that determine when employees quit,” says Clarissa Turi, who leads a team of five managers at PostFinance. So for the Head of Channel Management, a person’s attitude and leadership competencies should always be the drivers for a career in human resources. Alongside management careers, PostFinance also offers opportunities for specialist careers. According to Cédric Sieber, these roles are suitable for anyone who likes to take responsibility, enjoys motivating people and loves diving right into a specialist field. And the Everyday Banking Customer Journey Owner adds: “The model is also ideal if someone doesn’t necessarily want to deal with human resources topics or isn’t ready to do so just yet.

What is your job and what do you like about it?

Clarissa: My job is to work with my team to get the best out of marketing and sales. We create goals for the sales employees and offer them the technology, training and support they need to achieve those goals. The breadth of topics, the market dynamics and the heterogeneity of the team make my job really exciting.

Cédric: For two years, I’ve been responsible for the customer experience relating to domestic and international payments for our private customers. My area of activity comprises the whole spectrum, including analysis, validation using direct customer contact, conception, realization and testing.

Which leadership competencies are most important for your role?

Clarissa: Being able build relationships is crucial. So are empathy, authenticity and trust. To me, it’s important to be transparent and predictable. This enables employees to achieve their potential in a relaxed environment. Supportive and appreciative behaviour also includes expressing criticism clearly; after all, we have a job to do. Being results-oriented is another important skill. And good self-reflection is needed to do justice to the responsibility. As a leader, you have a huge influence on others. So you should never manage people just to build your career. Management isn’t a means to an end. For me, management is an attitude and a privilege.

Cédric: As a specialist expert, methodological competency, agility, organizational skills and personal responsibility are vital. We have topic areas that we take responsibility for, which means that we plan the when, how and where ourselves. Soft skills like empathy, communication and a willingness to compromise are also necessary. I’m constantly in discussion with many different specialists from a wide range of fields, and they need to be motivated as required to meet the needs of the specific project.

Which leadership competencies can be learned and which can’t?

Cédric: Specialist competency can generally be gained quite easily. An intrinsic interest in the topic is of course important, especially as the subject matter can often be complex, technical and sometimes even a little dry. The hardest to learn are the soft skills. But it’s possible to work on these, too, by identifying what your own strengths and weaknesses are.

Clarissa: A lot of the skills are a craft that can be learned or adapted with the right motivation. Love for the job can’t be learned. But that kind of enthusiasm is important, because HR management isn’t always pleasant or convenient.

What lies in your area of responsibility and how do you go about tackling it?

Cédric: Thematically, my area of responsibility is clearly defined. But in terms of the content of the tasks, skills and responsibilities involved, it can be less easy to draw a line. Even when personal responsibility is huge, I often work with other specialist experts, and I try to inspire them with plenty of appreciation and a can-do attitude for the particular topic. As I don’t have any hierarchical decision-making authority, I’m not usually confronted with matters that might be considered human resources management. We have specialist discussions. Where there are differing viewpoints, the best substantiated argument usually wins. In the rare cases when we can’t find a solution at a specialist level, our leaders have to decide.

Clarissa: For me, personal responsibility and individual responsibility are very important, so I see myself as a coach who gives input, holds up a mirror and supports as necessary. My team have to implement things themselves. In my experience, this has worked really well. I can guide strong managers who know what they’re capable of.

Are there development opportunities for you at PostFinance?

Clarissa: I started in 2010 as a sales employee and worked through all the stages up to my current function. We’ll see how my career path will continue. So far, exciting opportunities have cropped up again and again, and it would be great if that continues in the future. Basically, I can imagine a lot of different options, as long as I can find a job that fits with my strengths and allows me to create added value for the company. It could be taking a new internal job, moving sideways, managing employees directly again or at some point reducing my employment level and having more time for myself. There are so many possibilities. But currently, I’m very happy with my job and am excited to see what the future brings.

Cédric: 14 years ago, I started at PostFinance as an assistant to an IT department leader and, over the years, I’ve been able to gather experience and development opportunities in a wide range of fields and functions. After five exciting years as a TWINT manager, I came to Customer Journey Ownership in 2021, and I’m still enthusiastic. In future, I can imagine both a new specialist responsibility and reorientation towards HR management.

Does PostFinance have potential to improve when it comes to management?

Clarissa: PostFinance has a good leadership culture. But in my view, there are still too few women in management positions. As leaders are still predominantly male, we need to win the men over to our cause and show them the value of diversity. It’s also good to promote young talent. I think it’s important that posts are filled with the best person, not on the basis of gender. But women are often too reticent to apply for vacant leadership positions, even when they are very well qualified. For this reason, I’ve done some networking with other women at PostFinance so we can talk about these things, learn from one another and spur each other on. The meetings are always very inspiring, and I hope that in the long term, we can increase the proportion of female managers through mutual support.

Cédric: Fundamentally, I find that PostFinance is very open with regard to leadership. This means you come across a wide range of managers and styles and also alternative management forms such as self-organized teams. Technical careers are supported appropriately, and you don’t feel any difference between that and a management career. Everyone is on a level in terms of acknowledgement and appreciation.

Management vs specialist careers: helping you decide

HR and specialist managers share many leadership competencies but differ in their focuses.

Benefits of a management career

Ability to shape a team’s working practices and collaboration methods, promote employees’ development and help influence the company’s future.

Requirements for a management career

Strategic thinking, organizational skills and soft skills. Managers have to build relationships, communicate clearly, support their employees and guide them in a way that suits the individual situation and its requirements.

Benefits of a specialist career

Responsibility for a specific topic area. Technical specialists are in high demand, and their knowledge is often irreplaceable. Development tends to be horizontal rather than upwards.

Requirements for a specialist career

Natural authority, specialist competency and soft skills. Specialists must have good networks, know what knowledge and strengths are required for the current task, motivate team members and guide them with appreciation and in a way that suits the situation.

Leadership competency at PostFinance

PostFinance is constantly transforming. Flexibility, the ability to innovate, a willingness to change, curiosity and a readiness to keep on learning are therefore core skills – and not just for managers. In order to meet these requirements, PostFinance has drawn up a joint understanding of management, with strategic thrusts such as providing a sense of purpose, encouraging problem-solving and fostering an iterative approach. This will equip the dynamic financial institution for all upcoming transformation phases.

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