Stephanie Pfundt has been working at Spread Group since 2019. She joined the HR department through an internship and has stayed on as a Learning & Development Specialist. In this position, she plays a key role in creating a framework that enables colleagues at Spread Group to develop personally and professionally. We spoke to her about learning and development at the Spread Group. In the interview, you can find out about our opportunities for professional growth and what skills are high in demand right now.
Stephanie, what are the major challenges that both companies and employees face when it comes to development and training?
Stephanie: E-commerce is and incredibly fast-paced sector. For some it’s a dynamic environment to learn and grow, for others it poses great challenges. If you look deeper into it, you can’t avoid topics like new work or the age of talentism. These are phenomena that companies must face. And then there are requirements for employees such as resilience, agility, creativity, and innovativeness.
What can companies do to keep up with the fast pace, but also stay ahead of it?
Stephanie: It’s important that employees can develop in a direction they set out for themselves within an open corporate culture. People want to learn more, try out new things, and think outside the box. This requires an attitude that allows for mistakes, enables collaboration, and promotes self-determined learning. Every employer needs to create structures in which people can develop and acquire skills and abilities out of their own curiosity. In school we were always told: You have to learn this and you have to learn that, then you will become something. But learning works differently. People can be trusted to identify their own areas of learning and to develop in a self-determined way. If this is the case, all that is needed is a common goal that offers a sufficient scope for identification.
How do employees at Spread Group find their own way?
Stephanie: At Spread Group, employees from 49 different countries come together and bring very diverse backgrounds and knowledge with them. This diversity is very enriching, and it is important to leverage these treasures of knowledge and utilize them. To this end, we have created a range of internal and external offers for our staff. This starts with onboarding trainings. We‘ve set up an entire program to make it easier for new colleagues to arrive at our company. Challenges come with the many and diverse teams, new terminology, numerous events, and also numerous applications and tools that are used on a daily basis. It can be quite overwhelming in the beginning. The whole onboarding process takes several months and gives the new Spreadsters occasion to get to know the company and the culture.
In addition, the motto “Making knowledge usable” applies. We have developed internal formats where colleagues learn from colleagues. At our SpreadX event, for example, knowledge is imparted on various topics in a kind of mini-workshop. Learning about image editing programs, the basics of HTML or how to apply design thinking are examples of what’s on offer.
The AwareX format, for example, is about drawing attention to various social topics. The aim is to inform and start a conversation about such topics. This ranges from anti-racism training to questions about sexism and equality, and to a training on unconscious bias (unconscious thought patterns). This format invites to change the perspective and to sharpen the view for sensitive topics.
A slightly different and rather unconventional format is our Smarty Pants Night. It’s a barrier-free, informal, and very entertaining get-together, where everyone who feels like it can give a talk on their favorite topic. Plus we have pizza and lots of laughs. How do I sharpen a knife? How does WIFI work? The Vikings and the Wadden Sea – the potpourri of topics is very colorful and the form of presentation can be freely chosen. The interesting thing about it is that the audience not only gets a taste of completely new topics and impulses, but that employees also dare to present themselves. Sometimes employees have a kind of presentation shyness, especially if you don’t do it often in your job. At the Smarty Pants Night, the inhibitions to speak in front of the group are very low. This is mainly due to the fact that freely chosen topics can be presented in a playful way. All participants benefit from this. Through the newly acquired ideas, folks don’t only acquire valuable knowledge, but also keep open-minded towards new things.
In addition to the numerous internal offers, we also regularly bring in external coaches to provide further training for the staff. Currently, for example, a three-day Agile Leadership Training is taking place. What’s more, teams are also always encouraged to attend training courses on their own in order to develop their individual skills for the job.
What skills does it take to be successful on the job these days?
Stephanie: First and foremost, you should keep up to date with the latest developments. Whether you attend webinars, training courses, conferences, or other courses is up to you. Colleagues are welcome to approach me and express needs for their team. I accompany the process and advise e.g. on topics to boost team dynamics. I can also offer support on how to develop core competencies within the team strategy. Of course, I am always happy to help find suitable trainings. The concept of new work requires developing your competencies. These are abilities and skills that enable you to cope with challenging situations on an emotional level. In this context, qualities such as developing resilience, being able to set boundaries, having a positive attitude, but also wanting to develop professionally and personally fall into this category.
One last tip you’d like to share for people’s professional life?
Stephanie: Actually, I’d like to give two more tips.
1. Get away from the idea of having to do that one job for life. Curricula vitae are as colourful as confetti. You can take detours, gather new experiences, and try out new things.
2. If you feel stuck in your job, it doesn’t mean you have to completely retrain for a new challenge. Sometimes it’s just a few tweaks that you need to make. It’s important to identify these – they can be great opportunities. Maintain a curious mindset to keep you interested in new ideas 😊
About Stephanie: Stephanie Pfundt has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Leipzig’s University of Applied Sciences (HTWK). She completed her master’s degree in researching people with exceptional abilities and competence development at the University of Leipzig. Her first professional experience was gained in competence development, personnel organization and pedagogy at an organic food retailer. In addition, she has worked as a research assistant at the University in Leipzig on numerous projects on advanced learning. Stephanie has been working at the Spread Group since 2019. In the HR department, she is responsible for Learning & Development.