Phenomenal Women of AltoPartners – Claudia Allwißer
Cool and calm, with an enviable grace-under-fire disposition, Claudia Allwißer is one of Jack Russell Consulting/ AltoPartners Germany’s most versatile team members, with over 20 years in the executive search industry. A generalist with a commercial and industrial background, Claudia completed her MBA at the University of Applied Sciences, Augsburg followed by a year at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland where she honed her language skills. She tells us what she loves about executive search.
Is this what you always dreamed of doing?
No! Growing up I didn’t even know Executive Search was a thing. I love animals and thought I might become a vet.
So how did you end up in Executive Search?
When I finished my studies, I did an internship in France for a few months before returning to work for a German printing house that specialised in those paper envelopes that your photos used to come in. My job was to support the French sales office and later branches in Russia and China. After a while, though, I was looking for a new challenge and spotted a job ad that intrigued me. I applied and was hired by Signium where I learned about the Executive Search business from scratch.
What motivates you to do what you do?
I love new challenges and working with different people and cultures. I think our job is important and that we have an influence on organisations as well as on individual lives. I believe it is key to treat each contact with care and empathy – not only because candidates can become clients – but because we are dealing with human beings and not objects.
Did you have a mentor?
I never had a formal business mentor, but I was always lucky enough to work with people who were at the top of their game and from whom I could learn.
Best advice you ever got?
My first boss in executive search taught me to never, ever give up because there is always more than one solution. In fact, I was reminded of it not so long ago. I was searching for a Finance Manager. It was a difficult assignment: the client was challenging, the location tricky and the profile was closer to a CFO but without the remuneration. To compound matters, the successful candidate would have to work with management teams in two locations – both with very different mindsets and ways of working. I was therefore happy to find three solid candidates which we presented to the client. Part of their interview process was a role play where candidates had to defend attitudes that were at odds with their personal values. All three failed spectacularly. The client assumed that we would walk away from the search, but that was never an option. We simply redoubled our efforts. Finally, we found a suitable candidate that was also interested in the position. We prepped them for the meeting with the client, and it was a YES from everyone. Moral of the story: Never, ever give up.
What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
Don’t take everything so seriously. Accept that everything changes eventually. Don’t waste time on things or people that don`t inspire you. Be thankful for each day and be grateful.
What’s your superpower?
I can stay cool and calm in difficult situations.
That’s a top skill. Any tips for the rest of us?
I work at it. Reactivity is a habit that can be broken. I start each day on my mat with yoga and Zen meditation, and when I’m not working, I relax with family and friends. I also find every opportunity to be active outdoors, either jogging, cycling or hiking.
Claudia is a certified business coach under the auspices of the German Association for Coaching and Training.