Interview with Josephine Ackerman, Head of Strategy & Brand at SCHUFA Holding AG

What’s your current occupation? 

Head of Strategy & Brand at SCHUFA Holding AG

Where are you currently living?

Frankfurt, Germany

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I am a mother of two wonderful children, aged 4 and 1. In July 2022, I began my journey at SCHUFA, Germany’s primary credit scoring company. Prior to that, I worked at Deutsche Bank for ten years, heading the Global Marketing team of their International Private Bank after other positions in the Communications and Strategy / Consulting departments. I am a ‘braintrust’ member of an early venture startup called VoltVogel, and an artist at heart – at least I like to create sculptures and to paint. I am interested in evolving trends concerning tech, data, finance, and life itself; enjoy running, yoga, meditation, as well as good food and wine.

What do you connect with our theme “Bold Choices”? 

A bold choice can be anything for anyone, and it will be something different for everybody. It is usually considered an unconventional pursuit or a decision that involves more risk or something new and untested. In the field of strategy, a bold choice would probably be something that seems innovative, requires a very strong vision, and will to face uncertainty. 

What is the boldest choice you’ve ever made in your life?

I am not certain it was the boldest choice of my life, but professionally the most recent: At SCHUFA, we pioneered a very unique and unconventional influencer marketing campaign which we only launched this July. During the pitch, I recall thinking: ‘Wow, this is quite the leap…’. My colleagues were enthusiastic and as the presenter then added: ‘To make a ripple in a rough sea, you need a significant splash’. Their conviction prompted me to be courageous…

And why was this your boldest choice? 

A campaign takes a lot of resources, financially as well as from the teams and the effort that flows into creating something meaningful, like in the case for our campaign. It also feels connected to one’s professional track record. Before launching the campaign, I contemplated the potential media backlash and its implications for the company. Naturally, we hoped for a positive reception… 

How do you choose which choice to make if you’re in doubt? 

I consider the available facts, but also place significant emphasis on trusting my intuition and listening to my limbic brain. Does this choice feel right? If things don’t go as planned, can I confidently say I believed I was making the right choice, and can I therefore justify it to myself? Additionally, I seek to validate my decisions by consulting with experts in the field, seeing their reactions, and obtaining feedback to my plans.

What gives you the strength to make a bold choice? 

My family gives me roots. A safe base from which I can venture out and evolve. 

Do you think people should be better at making bold choices? 

Yes, I think people should be brave and make bold choices more often. 

If so, why?

Our world needs people who are brave enough to make bold choices, to take responsibility and calculated risks – otherwise we would stagnate, we wouldn’t explore new fields as a society, in business and in politics. Also, on a personal level, if we wouldn’t sometimes make bold choices we would probably always wonder ‘what if…’

If you had to choose someone who, in your opinion, has made the most bold choice, who would it be and why?

My mother. She is from Poland. She came to East Germany and married my father, a German. They then jointly decided she should leave the GDR, and she did so taking only my sister and myself, a 4- and a 1-year-old, with her. She did not know if she would ever see her husband again, didn’t know where life would take her. All in hope for a free life and better future for her children. She later on established her own company, and became a successful entrepreneur. I have the greatest respect for her decision and success.

What is your favorite TED talk? 

Four principles for the open world by Don Tapscott for TEDxGlobal

Share with us your favorite quote that you identify with the most: 

There are so many insightful and inspiring quotes. I cannot say I have a favorite, and would not like to be pinned to only the one I identify with the most. I do however like Paul Coelho’s writing: “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Thank you Josephine!