Phenomenal Women of AltoPartners – Marion Sözcü
Today we wish Marion Sözcü, the glue at Jack Russell Consulting ─ our Munich-based partner, a very happy birthday! Twenty years ago, Marion made the brave decision to leave a safe job with a nice office at an internationally renowned firm of headhunters to join an adventurous start-up named for a small, persistent hunting dog that punches above its weight. Today the start-up has become a scale-up, extending far beyond its initial IT & Technology focus. Kind, modest, pragmatic, efficient and intuitive, with a killer ability to remember names and details, every organisation needs a Marion.
Says co-founder Thomas Heyn: “Nobody is as good at generating customer intimacy. Nobody is better at booking Business Development airtime in front of a C-Level client or prospective client. Nobody is better at handling a creative and spontaneous senior partner with undiagnosed ADHD. Nobody is better at generating a genuinely positive atmosphere in the workplace. And nobody in the office is a better belly dancer.”
Happy birthday Marion, from your colleagues and friends at Jack Russell Consulting and all of us at AltoPartners.
What was your childhood career dream?
I wanted to be a flight attendant. Flying in the 70s was still relatively exclusive, and it was a glamorous way to see the world, or so it seemed.
Is that why you went into travel?
I guess so. I am – or at least I was – a certified travel agent and spent 20 years in the travel industry.
So how did you get into Executive Search?
Like so many others, it was by accident. When I joined the travel industry in 1980, it was your ability to work out routes, calculate the best airfares and your knowledge of various destinations that set you apart. With the advent of the internet in 2000, the job profile changed completely, becoming more admin orientated. And boring. I began looking for something new and exciting, where I could still work with people from different walks of life. Fortunately, I was hired by Heidrick & Struggles and was lucky enough to be assigned to Oliver Torster’s team. He was a partner at the time and was kind enough to show me the ropes. When he left to set up Jack Russell Consulting with Thomas Heyn, I was right behind him.
What motivates you to do what you do?
I am the interface between candidates and clients. To do my job well, I need a lot of trust from the executives, which I absolutely get. I’m service-oriented through and through, and I get great pleasure from providing support that is so well-planned and organised that it appears effortless. Even my chaos has a system!
Did you have a mentor? What was the best piece of advice they gave you?
Not officially, but Oliver very patiently introduced me to executive search in what was effectively a complete career change. Later, Thomas challenged me with new tasks. He believed in me, and my self-confidence grew.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Believe in yourself and your abilities. You can do more than you think you can.
How do you relax and unwind?
I like to relax while hiking. But I’m also good at just sitting in the sun. Books and music are also my gateways to another world.
Do you have a superpower?
I have two! I have very fine antennae for interpersonal relationships and can sense quite quickly when something is not right. And I can deal with chaos, spontaneous changes, and unplanned situations very pragmatically. As a bonus, it even has a calming effect on those around me.
What’s the best compliment you have ever received?
One of the nicest pieces of feedback I ever got was from a client when they needed an executive assistant, and they asked me to find a clone of myself. I guess I knew then that I must be doing something right.