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An exclusive interview with Zalando Technology HR business partner, Anne Dröge Article

Anne Dröge is helping Zalando become one of the most influential fashion platforms in Europe. Apps World has managed to get an exclusive interview with Anne before she speaks on our Women in Tech panel at Apps World Germany.

Can you tell us about your role as HR business partner at Zalando Technology?

P&O Business partners, in general, work with senior leaders and are their first contact for all People & Organization related topics in order to ensure a state of the art leadership, optimized organizational set up and a healthy culture where employees can thrive.

My team sits both within the P&O department and tech department, and I work very closely with the tech managers and leaders to make sure they have the correct support. We’re the sparring partners and coaches for our leaders.

How do Zalando and Zalando Technology differ?

We’re all part of the same family, heading towards the same purpose. Zalando Tech is a department within Zalando, with currently over 1,200 employees, and spread out over four locations throughout Europe – we are growing at a very rapid pace. The tech team is the driving force behind our platform strategy, transforming Zalando into Europe’s leading fashion platform.  

Why is the mantra of radical agility helping Zalando Technology become one of the leading tech companies in Europe?

Radical Agility combines the three pillars of autonomy, mastery, and purpose: these are all held together by trust. Since implementing Radical Agility in 2015, we’ve seen our application quality increase, the quantity triple, unwanted attrition is down by 35%, we’ve built more diverse teams,  and enriched our teams with people from all over the world who move to Berlin to be part of building Zalando’s platform. Our tech culture, innovation and talented people are what’s putting Zalando on the tech map.

You’re speaking on the Women in Tech panel at Apps World Germany, how  important do you think the subject of Women in Tech is right now?

Diversity in general is a topic that should be in focus in the workplace right now. It’s not just about raising awareness about women in the tech industry,  but making sure that companies really understand what it means to be diverse. For example, currently at Zalando Tech we have around 1,200 people in our team from over 70 nationalities, this is diversity. The diversity in nationalities, cultures, ways of thinking, educational background, personalities – all of this together I believe leads to top performing teams!

Zalando Technology has a reputation for it’s unique attitude towards recruitment, can you tell us why Zalando Technology utilizes this approach?

We’re a big fan of making sure that each person we hire fits Zalando Tech. We don’t want to create jobs that people  do mundanely, we want to create a culture and work place that people jump out of bed to come to.  This is one of the main reasons that we do pool hiring – this is where we hire based on people’s talents – and then let the teams ‘speed date’ with the candidates once they joined to see where they’d fit.  

Berlin is arguably one of the best places in the world right now for Tech startups, why do you think this is?

That would be because Zalando is here! ;-) Besides this, the city itself definitely has it’s charm! It is lively, international, raw, full of energy, the base for many artists, young entrepreneurs and an adventure waiting around every corner! There is so much happening in this city that it is the first place where I feel I can stay put.

Berlin is also seeing a considerable growth in co-working spaces, how do you feel this affects the startups?

It’s great! Berlin is really developing itself as Europe’s answer to Silicon Valley.  We have a mix of everything in the city, from the big tech companies like Zalando and Soundcloud, to spaces for start-ups of all sizes. That sums up the Berlin mantra of – come one, come all!  

Which tech trend do you see being the most important in 2016?

In 2015, Zalando announced that we were changing our strategy to focus on becoming the leading fashion platform in Europe. As our co-founder Robert Gentz stressed, the ecommerce industry needs “radical change”. Over the last year we’ve been implementing this change at Zalando. As our platform grows, so do our products. Recently we launched several new apps including; Fleek, Fashion Flow, Zalon and Zalando Lounge. We realise that the fashion industry has many demands, which we know we can meet by reimagining the fashion industry. The development of companies shifting their strategy to become platforms (Amazon, Google, Alibaba) is where the future of tech and business is going, and Zalando will be leading the way for the fashion industry. 

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