Wüsthof CEO Jan-Patrick Schmitz on Hiring and Building Global Teams
Roy is joined by Jan-Patrick Schmitz, CEO of the Wüsthof Group. Wüsthof is a family-run business that has been manufacturing quality cutlery for over 200 years. Prior to Wüsthof, Jan-Patrick served as a key member of the leadership team at Montblanc. He’s spent over 20 years working in brand management, establishing himself as a seasoned thought leader in the consumer space. His extensive experience ranges from the development of luxury brands as the Founder and CEO of Muirbury & Co, to serving on the board of directors of Thornwillow Press and the German American Chamber. Roy and Jan-Patrick discuss key factors to consider when hiring and leading teams across borders and cultural contexts.
Listen to the podcast
HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDE
- Lessons from Jan-Patrick’s early career move from Germany to Japan (3:47)
- How leaders can cultivate trust and credibility with global teams (7:09)
- Advice for navigating culturally complex business dynamics (8:28)
- How Jan-Patrick builds cohesion in remote and global teams (12:08)
- Methods for assessing the performance of international teams (21:07)
- What Jan-Patrick looks for in a leader (24:45)
- His experience building a DTC business at an established company (26:12)
- How Jan-Patrick’s vision informs competencies and roles (28:28)
- His “unorthodox” interview style (30:47)
- How he engages stakeholders in global hiring processes (32:56)
- The three most essential skills effective global leaders must have (34:33)
SHOW TRANSCRIPT – HOW I HIRE PODCAST WITH JAN-PATRICK SCHMITZ
[00:00:00] Roy: Hello and welcome to How I Hire, the podcast that taps directly into the best executive hiring advice and insights. I’m Roy Notowitz, founder and president of Noto Group Executive Search. You can learn more about us at NotoGroup.com. As a go-to firm for purpose driven companies, we’ve been lucky to work with some of the world’s most inspiring leaders as they’ve tackled the challenge of building high performance leadership teams. Now, I’m sitting down with some of these very people to spark a conversation about how to achieve success in hiring and create purposeful leadership for the next generation of companies.
[00:00:41] I’m joined today by Patrick Schmitz, Global CEO of the Wusthof Group. Wusthof is renowned for the high quality cutlery that they’ve crafted for over 200 years. As CEO, Patrick has helped usher in the company’s direct to consumer business with an eye toward expanding their international presence. Before joining Wusthof, Patrick worked in private equity and brings over 20 years of experience in global brand management with tenure serving in multiple key leadership roles for the luxury brand Montblanc.
[00:01:14] Born in Germany. Patrick has worked and lived in Europe, Japan, and the United States. He brings his unique global perspective on hiring to the podcast, and he’ll share how he’s navigated cultural contexts throughout his career to lead successful brands and build cohesive teams across borders.
[00:01:33] Patrick, thank you so much for joining us.
[00:01:36] Patrick: Roy, thank you as well. Good to speak to you.
[00:01:39] Roy: So let’s start by having you tell us about your career journey and how it led to you becoming a global consumer brand leader.
[00:01:47] Patrick: I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. As you can hear from my accent, I grew up in Germany and my father had his own company, had a pet food company, and he taught me how to run a business. And on the other end my, my mother is very international; speaks many languages, so I got that international kind of vibe from my parents and that business vibe. So I knew that I wanted to go not only into business, but I wanted to go into international business, global business as I was raised. So I started off in finance and controlling.
[00:02:17] And then sort of went through the ranks and moved actually as a, as a young man to Japan for an assignment. What was originally two years, ended up six years, and that’s where I became the country manager at age 29. So, so that had a huge impact on my leadership style. And from there, went back to Europe, and then I ended up in North America.
[00:02:36] Roy: So how has the diversity of your experience really served you as a leader?
[00:02:41] Patrick: Education had one of the big impacts for me. So going to a European college, getting my undergrad degree and then my master’s in the US really taught me some fundamentally different approaches to problem solving; so European, on the theoretical side, you’re trying to understand the, the factors is leading to a problem and doing much more research and sort of an intellectual approach to leadership. And on the US side, though, when I went to business school, it was all about problem solving. It was all about hands on. And then certainly the other big piece was me moving to Asia and Japan, and in Japan when I came, I didn’t speak the language, so I came into a completely Japanese organization.
[00:03:18] I was the only expat of over a hundred people. There was only one person actually spoke some broken English. That experience of actually taking a leadership role in such a foreign environment with a different culture that had a huge impact and it shaped me as a leader.
[00:03:36] Roy: What was that like? Tell us a little bit more about that adjustment in such a interesting environment where you didn’t really speak the language and vice versa.
[00:03:47] Patrick: So at that time I was a Company Controller and trying to build up a global controlling system, and so I tried to have an impact on that business and understand the business from being remote, being in Germany. I vividly remember traveling to Japan and went to the office and it was in the summertime, it was hot. It was steamy, rainy season. Had to wear my suit, my tie, and for a whole week I was sitting in a tiny office with my colleagues from Japan. And– chain smokers. The office was a little closet, quite frankly, and we were negotiating and trying to understand each other for a week, and when I left that tiny room after a week, I said like, “Boy, there’s no way I could ever live here.
[00:04:26] There’s no way I actually will ever understand what they’re doing and what the challenges are and how to account for that and how to create a risk management system, so on, so forth.”
[00:04:36] Roy: Yeah.
[00:04:36] Patrick: For me, at that time, quite frankly, I thought it was a hopeless place. Now, fast forward a year later, my boss at the time said, “You know what? It’s really challenging to develop Japan. Why don’t you move there?” And, and that was really a hard choice. And if you think about career choices, on one side, you had a dream: I was educated in the US so I thought for certain I would be sent to the United States to find a job there with a company. Yet I was sent to Japan where I knew nothing about, and it was really a hard start, I must say. The first year was so hard on every level, starting with language, starting with understanding culture, understanding business culture, finding my way home from the office to to, to the place where I stayed, ordering food, reading a menu. So that– everything was a struggle in every possible corner.
[00:05:26] And I think for me, one of the biggest learning, and that is a learning, which is for me in leadership as well as my personal life, until this day is that you have at times to take yourself out of the center of your own attention, right? So we always think about, “here’s my business, here’s my task, here’s what I need to do with my department or with my company, my strategy.”
[00:05:46] Yet you don’t spend enough time understanding the world around you, understanding the people which you either work with or your clients, which you do business with. So, so taking myself out of the center of attention is what really changed and made a very difficult first 12 months into some great six years, and with that actually becoming a very patient learner. So I think it’s another thing which I took from that time is that you need to study people, in particular in Japan. So in, in the United States as well as Germany, we like to be pretty much straightforward. We say what we think. You don’t have that in Japan, for instance, the first couple of months I was stunned, I never heard the word no on any of my questions, yet a lot of things were not done. And that was a big learning of speaking literally versus in context, listening to what’s not said. And that is a skill which I learned there, which is not taught anywhere. So you really have to have that experience of trying to understand and hear what’s not said, and then read other signs like facial expression, hand expression, body language, even we in the West, in America and Europe, We have a lot of nonverbal signs, which when you read them, you understand much deeper of what the other person is saying.
[00:06:59] Roy: That’s interesting. How did you develop the trust and credibility and navigate the barriers and build cultural competency to credibly move forward and influence as a leader?
[00:07:09] Patrick: Making an effort to understand and speaking the language, or at least understanding enough to have some level of communication, I think is important and there’s also an element of respect to it. Yet you have to be careful at the same time. Never be arrogant to think you’ve mastered the language or you are equal in terms of understanding it. So you do keep your respectful distance from a cultural perspective. When you start assimilating, when you start feeling more at home, you nevertheless wanna make sure that you live your own culture and you stand for that cause it gives you authenticity as a leader and as a partner in any sort of business environment, negotiations or as well as the personal life. Becoming a learner is a big part there as well. And as I said earlier, you want to be liked as a human being, right? But I realized if you have such a big culture gap, the first step is really being respected and then if you are liked or not is a second thing. And it really is less important at that point, and in particular in that culture, but being respected for who you are and what you do and being respectful to them, you really created some strong bonds and bonds, which in some cases last until today.
[00:08:17] Roy: Do you feel like if somebody has a global assignment, that it’s absolutely essential to become fluent in that language or now with the way people work, is that less important?
[00:08:28] Patrick: I don’t think you have to be, I have to be fluent. I think it’s very hard, in many languages, to be fluent, but I think to understand actually it’s very practical, it’s helpful. So at the beginning I had no preparation. So sometimes companies give you some preparation, give you some training on culture; the dos and the don’ts. I had nothing. I got a plane ticket and flew over and then I had to learn it really from the start.
[00:08:48] So I think if you are getting on an international assignment, getting some cultural training in particular, when you’re not going to, to a culture which is in the same context as your own, it’s very helpful. I think with regard to language there’s a two-fold in learning some, making an effort to understand some I think again helps you really forge relationships because at the end, we are all of the people business, whether it’s in the leadership role, whether you’re leading teams, or whether you, you have business relationships with external business partners. It’s all about the human interaction and understanding some or speaking and learning some of the language, it helps you to bond.
[00:09:25] And the other thing in particular, in complex environments like Japan, it helped me actually understanding truly what’s happening. So using an official translator, right? So you say something that’s translated, the business partner saying something in Japanese, goes back and forth. I started to realize, once I’ve mastered the language enough to have some basic understanding, is that the translator also interpreted. So when I, for instance, would’ve said to the partner, “I really disagree,” or, “I strongly agree with your proposal, this is a wonderful proposal, we should do it right away,” the translator might have said “That is very interesting and I will consider your idea.” So again, there’s also some practical application of, in particular, if you spend some considerable time there, if you have an assignment in the country, is to actually understand both the language, but then also the culture, the etiquette, the seniority is another big thing in Japan. So how do you approach somebody who is maybe rank wise, lower than you, but age wise, older?
[00:10:26] Roy: What are some learnings that you can share specifically around hiring and aligning and leading global teams?
[00:10:36] Patrick: If you do lead a global team or you have parts of your organization in other parts of the world, you need to understand the dynamics. You need to understand their culture. You need to understand, for instance, how authority is associated with the role. So if you have a department head in the United States, he or she might lead a team or part of the business very different than a department, for instance, in Japan or in Europe relative to authority. So, so do they have more of a consensus driven style or do they have a more directive style?
[00:11:05] So in particular in particular matrix organizations, cross border can become quite tricky because you have certain leadership, you know, you have two dimensions, right? You have leadership roles who have to bridge between cultural differences, but then you also have functional roles, which can also be quite different in terms of, for instance, approach as a go to market approach. A go to market approach for a consumer brand US might work very different to how it is done in Europe or in Asia. So, so with that understanding as well, the high context versus low context cultures, sometimes you actually have to respect and address the cultural differences more than actually skill sets you could see in an individual. So I have had situations where I, yeah, I thought I had the perfect person to fill a role, but because of these, what I like to call culture combinations, I knew that the person would fail in the cross-border function like that.
[00:12:00] Roy: Wow. Is there any way that you can prepare leadership teams to work cross-culturally? What are your thoughts?
[00:12:08] Patrick: So I think there’s nothing –we saw that through the pandemic in particular afterwards– there’s nothing more important than these personal interactions and preparing in terms of the cultural differences. Preparing in terms of people interacting prior, whenever it’s possible is hugely helpful.
[00:12:22] For example, in one of my previous companies that was in the watch and jewelry and pen business, and we bought a watchmaker in Switzerland. And our core business was actually in the pen world. And so we had a factory in Germany. We had German craftsmen, and we had German meisters who mastered the art of creating pens. And then you had on the other side, the Swiss colleagues who were masters in creating highly complicated watches. And there were a lot of differences, starting from language to culture and also respect for each one’s craft. So what we have actually done at the beginning is created multiple opportunities for having the masters from the pen side visit our colleagues for multiple days in Switzerland and vice versa, and bring them together and share their craft and share their business ideas and also have some personal time. And with that, actually created very strong bonds and created that respect, which I’ve mentioned earlier.
[00:13:15] In the United States, we are very much focused on the business at hand and we are, we are potentially not paying, at times, enough attention to giving people time to be prepared for these cross border businesses. And that’s why I think also a lot of companies, when they do go international, they look first off, like-minded or similar language countries, right? So many of the international expansions for companies are first to Canada then to the UK, and then into maybe other markets. And I think if one were to follow these preparations and follow these regular touchpoints, communication feedbacks, and also celebrate– I think that’s maybe another point to bring– celebrating what they bring to the table, and then if you go down that path, you could be very successful.
[00:13:59] Roy: When we work together, for example, you’re building a global team. Some global positions are based in the US, some are in Germany or other locations. Do you have a way to determine the right structure? Maybe historically, it used to be like the headquarters were in Germany, for example, at Adidas or wherever, but then the US would be just a different market, a satellite office. Now I think people look at global positions a little bit more holistically in global organizations. Can you speak to that and how does that sort of play out in real life?
[00:14:31] Patrick: Absolutely. And in fact, as as terrible as the pandemic was, and as much as I think we all learned on so many levels from that experience, it actually did add a couple of really positive side effects if you wish to that. And one thing was obviously that we all learned to get on to hybrid modes of being remote and we all get into video conferences and all of a sudden we were hiring, you know Roy, you and I hired the first couple of people actually me not being able to see them or them not meeting with me. So we did it all online. We did it all in videos, and it worked out, and I’m sure you know, including myself, prior to that experience, prior to the pandemic, we always said, you know, “it’s impossible.”
[00:15:11] What it did for me and for our organization is we realized that this classical model of having this, this center of power where the, the key roles are, and so the rest becomes sort of a satellite. That moved away. And this by the way, also challenges for people who worked in the headquarters. You have to be very mindful about that. Because I took away that idea we have a headquarter, we have talent hubs, we have a talent hub in Europe, we have talent hubs in the United States, we have a talent hub in Canada. And we have, people actually who are not even located in talent hubs, but in home offices. And so we’re creating a much more holistic structure, uh, on one side actually, it allows you to fill and get the best talent wherever they are. And technology allows that. It actually also cracks down on some of the silos which you have in companies, because unless it is developed in headquarters and unless it goes through a certain stringent process within that part of the organization, it never becomes to real life out in the marketplace. So, so I think that all was positive.
[00:16:11] For everybody who was in that power center, you have that feeling of loss, right? We used to be the headquarter. Now we are no longer. That doesn’t mean we are less important. No, it does not. So you have to be very tuned into that as well. All of that is, is very positive. But what I think we all learned in the pandemic as well is it doesn’t substitute the regular touchpoints. So getting together regularly in person because that personal bonding and that building of trust between people, in particular, trust across cultures, across regions, it’s very hard, if not impossible to really do that sustainably over, over online connections.
[00:16:46] Roy: So when it comes to actually recruiting and hiring and when you have different teams, one team maybe in Europe another team in the US, and they’re all sort of stakeholders in that process, how do you manage that? Are there any tricks or tips that you might have for two or more stakeholders in a hiring process with different cultures involved?
[00:17:08] Patrick: This is not only cross border, but certainly there probably a little more pronounced is that you have to be very clear about what is the role we are hiring and having actually an in-depth discussion. Where are the stakeholders within the organization about what do we try to accomplish? What’s the function of that role? How will it interact within your global organization? So I think that preparation part is important, defining that, and then getting a buy-in from the stakeholders throughout that process. So when, finally, you find the candidate and you make an offer the people who will interact with that role, in particular on the cross border side, are aware of it and feel as comfortable as they can. You can’t always get full buy in. So you also have situations where either I or a group of the people who were involved in the hiring felt very strong about a candidate, others were not. So you better address it upfront and see where the concerns are. So again, that you’re building as much understanding as possible because as for every role, might it be cross border or not, that first, onboarding, that first, whatever, 90, 100 days, make or break an assignment, as I always like to say, there’s never a second, first impression. And that’s nowhere as true as when it comes to getting talent to an organization.
[00:18:20] Roy: Especially at the leadership level. Is there a way to mitigate the communication bias of somebody interviewing the candidate or intervene in a way to, to make sure every candidate has a fair shake in the process?
[00:18:34] Patrick: Outside of the things going really awkward during an interview, what I always do is afterwards a debrief. In so many debriefings, people, you know, strictly talk about skillsets and that person has done this or that, and how does it relate to what we want? The hard skills. I personally view them as the easier part. But that soft side, that cultural side, that emotional intelligence side, that understanding the different perspective and culture, that, that soft piece of the business is often ignored. So in every debriefing, whenever there is a point to be made or whenever we really did well, I point that out. When you say something, you thought you said something great and the candidate might have reacted sort of with that look in their face that something went off center. And sometimes people . Don’t know why because they maybe asked a question or phrased it in a way that, which was maybe culturally, not in the best way for that particular situation. So again, you can do that feedback and once you’ve started building an international team, it becomes sort of your second nature.
[00:19:30] Roy: Let’s talk about, is team building more difficult or complex in a global context? And how can you sort of prepare leaders for those differences or cultural differences and sensitivities around leadership styles or team dynamics to really accelerate their impact and their ability to work together in a successful way?
[00:19:49] Patrick: Well, on global teams, obviously it’s a little bit more challenging or complex because you don’t have that sort of “water cooler” type relationship building where you’re in the office every day. And so there’s so many touch points every single day where you can get to know each other. So therefore, you have to be very deliberate of defining touchpoints. So for instance, we have regular times where you check in, where you connect with the other person. Where you go through projects, but you also check in how do they do personally? I mean, how– is everything going all right? So I think that’s one level, and you have to be mindful about that.
[00:20:22] Ideally, once a quarter you get together and then it’s important not only to get together, you know, have a business meeting, but also reserve time for socializing, reserve time to get together and get to know each other. So I think that’s well invested time and that helps building a team– certainly is more complex, you have to be more deliberate in building a team across borders than it is if you were in one location.
[00:20:45] Roy: Yeah. I think that equally translates, as you said, to just virtual work and hybrid work…
[00:20:52] Patrick: it’s the same thing, you’re right.
[00:20:52] Roy: the way teams are working in general now. So how do you understand and manage performance and behavioral standards around what’s appropriate or not within a professional environment when you’re working across different countries and regions?
[00:21:07] Patrick: Well, that actually is one of the more tricky things because you know, performance can be assessed wildly different in some cases. And that was one of the things which at the beginning again, where I was so frustrated in Japan, and that is that there, effort is more important than a result. Team effort is more important, there’s a word in Japan, in so many meetings when things didn’t go well and I was first, “why doesn’t go well?” And we were talking and then at the end they all said, “ganbarimasho.” Let’s keep on trying. Let’s keep on pushing. Let’s keep on trying. In, in America, one of the experiences there I had in one of the companies I worked in where one of the managers said, “never confuse efforts with results.” So the polar opposite.
[00:21:46] So I believe it is virtually impossible in a truly global company to have one global performance assessment system. You have to be very mindful. And sometimes we all like to standardize because it makes our life easier. But when it comes to performance, there are elements on a global organization, that you just have to take into account if you don’t want to disenfranchise your people and if you don’t want to frustrate, if you wanna get the best out of it, you need to understand what performance means in that context, and it’s certainly not the same everywhere.
[00:22:17] Roy: Have you found different competencies across cultural boundaries are more emphasized than others? So for example, a sense of urgency or accountability versus problem solving or decision making or things like that.
[00:22:34] Patrick: Yes. Yes, I do. And there are actually many. One, which I want point out because it was for me, the starkest contrast between moving from six years in Japan, then to the United States.
[00:22:44] The principle of time versus the principle of space: the principle of time is a US concept and it triggers a lot of our skill set, and that is time is of essence. What do we do this quarter? Let’s try it out. Let’s do it. So time is a scarce resource in this country. Space, there’s plenty of, So we couldn’t care less, you know, build a highway, homes, wherever you look, products, bigger the better. Right? We supersize– even food, we supersize. Space is not an issue.
[00:23:12] Roy: Yeah.
[00:23:12] Patrick: In Japan, it’s a polar opposite. It’s an island, so they’re living on a constricted space and this affects their skills substantially and also their way, how they do business. So that’s why the Japanese, in my opinion, were world leaders and producing first the smallest electronics. I had one relationship with the department store called Isetan Japan, one of the leading department stores, and I really wanted to have a store in there. It took me, I think, four years to build relationships before I had the store. I said, “I don’t have the time.” And my team looked at me and said, time doesn’t matter, Schmitz. It doesn’t matter. You build that relationship when you have it, that’s good, but space, that matters. So in taking that into skillsets, so, so you do find a lot and is also related to history, how countries evolve, how organizational structures evolve, also spoke about a little bit seniority and that shapes skillsets in terms of creative thinking, in terms of decision making process. And that’s why I said earlier, when you build a cross-cultural team, there might be combinations where you might have a person which has some skills which you really need, but for instance, in leadership skills, based on the cultural background, you will set them up to fail because it doesn’t link up as a skillset of others in other parts.
[00:24:27] Roy: Wow, that was a really interesting and great example. Well, let’s get deeper into your recruiting and hiring process. So generally speaking, you know, what do you look for in a leader, and then how do you run a recruiting hiring and selection process?
[00:24:45] Patrick: So I look for a couple of things. Irrespective of the role I look for endless curiosity. So that for me, even in, in, in some more, you know, structured organizational roles like finance. So having curiosity is critical. Why do I say that? I think since the early 2000s, I think we all experienced it. We’re living in a time which is — moving faster than ever. We live in complete unpredictability on geopolitical matters, environmental matters, on market movements, on technologies, on distribution, on production innovation and production technologies, eveything’s changing. So if you have– people are not endlessly curious in, in whatever role you will not succeed and brings the business forward. With that actually, it’s kind of a close cousin to it, it’s mental agility, so it’s not so much about knowing an answer to a problem because, rest is assured, the problem you will face tomorrow has nothing to do with the problem of yesterday and, and so and so forth.
[00:25:44] Roy: Let’s talk about the project that we worked on at Wusthof. It’s a 208 year old family run manufacturer of premium cutlery, and you joined as Global CEO on a journey to help evolve the business into a global lifestyle brand, which of course requires building some new capabilities and leadership at the same time. Tell us about your strategy and how that relates to hiring.
[00:26:12] Patrick: I like to talk about our business as a 200 year old startup because it has that mentality. On the other side of the spectrum, obviously if you have that longevity, you have structures, you have functions and you have roles that have been established over decades. So, and as the world around you changes as distribution changes, market changes, consumer expectations, and so on and so forth, keeping up with that as you have such a strongly established company is one of the opportunities. I think taking that time is important and take– taking to understand the people and that’s when you start to formulate your strategy, almost like a chessboard, the roles.
[00:26:48] So in this case, we didn’t have any, any direct to consumer business. We had a one dimensional production strategy and sourcing strategy. We were international, but we had some markets which were extremely strong and other markets, which in itself have a lot of potential. We were not yet present, so, so there was multiple dimensions, might it be from distribution to manufacturing, to skillset within the organization which needed to be built. So once I started to truly understand what the organization was, I started to basically top down say, “Okay, what are the most critical roles which I need to fill, or which I need to create, what are the most DTC?”
[00:27:25] And from then on, it truly became a journey of being grateful and being respectful to a lot of the talent which we’ve had in the organization for a very long time, and then supplement that. And that’s also culturally one of the challenges, right? You have that dimension between international team members and the German team members. And then you have new skillsets, new departments, new technology coming in which didn’t exist prior, and relationships which you had with brick and mortar retailers, which continues to be very important to us, yet we have another dimension, another way of distributing that is direct to consumers, which creates anxiety with some of the people on the sales and the distribution side. Having some early wins also is very helpful to get a team behind you and, and then go from there.
[00:28:11] Roy: So one of the things I think taking away from what you’re talking about here, is starting with the end in mind long term as well, and then trying to understand what those opportunities are and then prioritizing them. So how did that boil down into roles and competencies and things like that?
[00:28:28] Patrick: Yes. I deliberately call it the North Star because it symbolizes, you know, giving direction to the organization, but also being in a way not as literal as so many other business plans, that was doing exactly A, B, C, and D by X date. We’re living in a time, again, where you know your direction, but you, dealing with change every single day. So I think it’s part of the credibility of the strategy to be very clear and very firm on the direction where you want to go with a business, but being also realistic about the obstacles on the way. And so once that was defined, it actually helped also design the organization, the roles and the departments, which either didn’t exist, needed to be created or existed, but needed to be expanded with skills.
[00:29:13] When you’re moving a brand forward and you are, let’s say, adjusting direction of where a company went. It also means that you are adjusting existing roles and then you get into that situation where people feel that they lose either influence or they fear about their job. And so there is a lot of anxiety which naturally understandably creates when you change direction. So by having a North Star and from that deriving what the roles will be and the people you need to hire and why that is, is helpful in in creating buy in. Now, does it eliminate all of the anxiety? No, it doesn’t, but it gives you a platform to talk about and to reference back to and gives direction. And then I went down to what I like to call institutional priorities.
[00:29:52] Now, this actually is now looking at a short term to midterm range and being much more specific about what do we do this year, next year? What are the objectives for our organization? Hence, where do we need to invest? What people do we need to hire? How do we need to change our organizational structure to be able to get on that journey to the North Star? And I supplemented that with both the vision and the mission statement, which crunches the North Star strategy into a very simple statement as well as the institutional priorities into a statement which you can better convey to people, both internal as well as external because their change will not only affect your own organization, the people within your company, but also stakeholders outside.
[00:30:38] Roy: What’s your approach for assessing candidates and getting to know them in the hiring process to feel confident in their capabilities?
[00:30:47] Patrick: I’m a little unorthodox in that approach. I’m certainly provocative in interviews. I’m really not a fan of these typical interview questions. They serve a purpose and they’re not wrong, but I try to look behind that curtain of who that person is. I try to understand truly what makes them tick. If I’m anything in an interview process, I’m completely unexpected. I’m completely surprising. What are the skills and experiences? Also, how do you handle yourself and what are your standards? For example, when I get a feeling in interviews that somebody’s trying to wing a question, that is a, a big turnoff for me because look, the more realistic we are with what we know or we don’t know, the better we will perform. So these are some of the things which I’m looking for when I interview people. And the self-awareness and also being prepared is another thing which is really important to me.
[00:31:41] The way I look at an interview process is that’s the best I get out of the person because that’s when you sell yourself. So this is about your future, your happiness, it changes your life. So when you do that and you are not prepared, and you are not at the best game, I can, in most cases, not expect a better performance than how you perform in an interview. So that’s why I’m also not forgiving that much when an interview is not going well and I’m saying, look, and this tells me something a little bit about that person, or at least how interested that person is in that role. And if that role is not right for you, then we better don’t go down that path. So these are some of the things which I do in interviewing and trying to really see that person and see some passion and see some emotion and see some reaction and see the true self.
[00:32:31] Roy: Once you have a clear understanding and alignment on a specific role. How do you effectively involve and engage the stakeholders in the recruiting and hiring process at a global level? And more specifically, how do you gain support or consensus on a key hire, taking into consideration the different perspectives and dynamics between global cohorts so that you can ultimately get to the best hiring decision?
[00:32:56] Patrick: Once you define the role, it’s important to look at the skills and competencies to define them. And based on that to, to think about the stakeholders who will be taking part in the interview process, both geographically as well as functionally. Then I normally create a list of the team members, how they pair, how they will show up throughout the different stages of the interview process. And a big piece in ensuring alignment is after every single round to have a debriefing. To go back to what are the skills and competencies for the role, and how did every one of the colleagues and stakeholders who participated is a recent interview, perceive that candidate and understand that candidate relative to skills and competencies. And so with that, you narrow down. The number of, of interviews through how many rounds, it really depends on the complexity of the role and how many touchpoints a role has within the organization. But as you go through these rounds you ideally narrow it really down to one or two candidates And then ultimately I hope to a single candidate and through this funneling through this process, looking at skills and competencies and doing touch bases after every call I normally arrive at the best decision for this position.
[00:34:15] Roy: So given all the global experience that you’ve gained since that first assignment, what are the top three most essential skills or competencies or knowledge that someone needs to have in order to be an effective leader in a global company?
[00:34:33] Patrick: Yeah, I think I touched on some of them earlier, but you know, to summarize, I think you’ve got to be a really fast learner. We have to deal with more challenges than ever. They’re coming at us faster than ever. The second, again, I think I mentioned, was emotional intelligence, and that probably combined with self awareness. The third one is cultural awareness and being open to cultural differences I think is critical to be successful as an organization and it’s critical to be successful as a leader, and I think it’s just important as a human being to have that awareness.
[00:35:02] Roy: I think if anything, the pandemic also just really showed us how literally connected we are.
[00:35:07] Patrick: I think there’s one of the great things which I take from the pandemic is the world came together to address something united. So there was a virus which affected us all. And I think we have shown, irrespective of who we are, what culture, what country, what skin color, whoever we are, we are capable as human beings to get together. And I hope that we will remember that for a long time when we fall back into our . Old habits.
[00:35:35] Roy: So how are you thinking about the future? Are there any exciting projects on the horizon? Things that you’re excited about?
[00:35:43] Patrick: I am, you know, I’m truly excited about the future. I think the world and from a business perspective became truly a village, as I said, we’re all on that world stage. We reinvent ourselves. The cycles are getting shorter, so I’m empowered by that. I’ve enjoyed it. I think one of the things to also really lead with is that notion of customer-centric. It started off as a buzzword. I think it’s much more today for virtually every single business, it has to do with a transparency. We all have as human individuals, as well as businesses through digital enterprises and other ways. So customer-centric is about surviving as a brand. It’s about, at the same time finding the balance between being authentic with solid values as a company, but also understanding expectations of all your stakeholders, so people in our organization as well as people you deal with. And so if I look into the future, that’s one of the things I really focus on the organization, the people is to embrace that and then, you know, lead with agility into, into that future
[00:36:43] Roy: So the holiday season, is coming up. It’s a perfect time for gifts. What cutlery or products you have that, that you would recommend our audience take a look at and purchase on the Wusthof.com site.
[00:36:59] Patrick: Now we are making beautiful cooks, knives and cutlery for well over 200 years and there’s a wide selection and I think taking the time to finding the right knives, the right Wusthof will give you joy for the rest of your life. That’s purely about the brand as well, if you think about sustainability, we think about lifestyle, this changing to healthier living. Our brand certainly is really high up in the sustainability chain in the sense of once you buy a Wusthof, you will not only enjoy it for a lifetime, but you can truly hand it down to the next generation. If you go to any of our trusted and wonderful retailers around the world, as well as to Wusthof.com, you do find a wide selection for the different applications, but also for the different styles that you like. And rest assured that we have been here 200 years ago and we will be around.
[00:37:51] Roy: That’s fantastic. So check out Wusthof and thank you Patrick, so much for taking time to share your advice. This is one of the first episodes that we’ve really focused in on global organizations and global hiring, and I think it was really useful. If somebody’s interested in connecting with you or learning more about opportunities at Wusthof, what is the best way for them to do that?
[00:38:14] Patrick: So the best way, if you go on Wusthof.com, we do have a career section there and we also have ways find there to reach out to us. And of course I’m looking forward to any sort of feedback and connecting.
[00:38:26] Roy: Patrick, you’re such a great partner and we love working with you and the team at Wusthof. Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. It’s been super fun talking shop and appreciate your leadership and your support.
[00:38:40] Patrick: Thank you, Roy. I truly appreciate it and I enjoyed our time.
[00:38:44] Roy: Thanks for tuning in to How I Hire. Visit HowIHire.com for more details about what you heard today. You can help spread the word about the latest hiring trends and insights by sharing this podcast with your friends and colleagues. How I Hire is created by Noto Group Executive Search. To find out more about Noto Group, visit NotoGroup.com. And while you’re there, please also subscribe to our monthly newsletter. This podcast was produced by AO McClain, LLC. To learn more about their work, visit AOMcClain.com.