17 and a Half Questions with Jenny Gruner

Jenny Gruner, Director of Global Marketing at Hapag-Lloyd, is a bridge builder between tradition and modernity. Her mission: to passionately drive digitalization in marketing, sales, and innovation in B2B companies through digital transformation in order to position them for the future and create the best customer experiences. Find out how she deals with stress and her tips on staying positive

by Rachel Johnson | 17 Aug, 2023
Portrait credits: Verena Felder

1.  What excites me about my job…

My job is so diverse that it's impossible to boil it down to just one thing. I'm always excited by the fact that I can really shape things instead of managing them. We have rebuilt the marketing department here on the greenfield site and are actively involved in shaping the digitization and transformation of Hapag-Lloyd – a truly traditional company. I'm lucky enough to get to know people from different cultures and nations and bring them along on the journey of change.

2.  What frustrates me sometimes…

I can be impatient and sometimes things don't move fast enough for me, especially with slow processes, unnecessary bureaucracy, or meetings without an agenda and next steps. What I find really frustrating is the phrase, "We've always done it this way."

3.  My secret dream job

When I was a child, I wanted to be an actress. So it's not surprising that I would love to make a movie with Michael Bully Herbig one day. I imagine that in Bully films there's really hard work and even more laughter. That's how every job should ideally be.

4.  My top strategy for surviving a really bad day at the office

There are several strategies that help me. First, deep breathing and focusing on my breaths or taking a walk when I'm really stressed. Then: laughing. You can squeeze something funny out of any situation, and with humor, the world already looks very different. And last but not least, don't put too much pressure on yourself and accept that not every day will be perfect – treat yourself with kindness and patience.

5.  The moment I find I am in the flow

When I can develop and implement something new – whether it's concepts, strategies, projects, or texts that I'm convinced will really add value for people and the company. And also when I can open up a new area by means of analysis and dive into it. Ideally, I then still find sustainable solutions to complex problems, whether on a business or interpersonal level.

6.  Biggest success so far

That I know my values and follow them. That way I don't let myself get twisted, even if a system wants to bend me. This also includes a willingness to leave when it doesn't fit – both in jobs and relationships.

7.  My greatest defeat

From my perspective, there are no defeats, only opportunities to learn and develop. Of course, there have been one or two failures in jobs and careers. That is something to reflect on and then optimize. But the "defeats" that really shape you and force you to rise above yourself are the ones that life hands you.

8.  Worst buzzword

Purpose. I feel this term is far too often misappropriated and misused for marketing purposes. When companies appear to have a deep and sincere purpose, even though their actual actions are not in line with that purpose, branding becomes blending. My tip: It's better to ride a marketing wave one time less and stay authentic instead. This also applies to green washing, woke washing, pink washing, etc.

9.  The best reward after a hard week at work… 

Spending time with my partner, a good dinner, and then a neck massage. This is the fastest way to drop the stress of the work week.

10.  Home office or in-house?  

Hybrid as it fits best into my daily work and life. This gives me the flexibility to combine the two and take advantage of the benefits. Productivity is much higher in the home office than in the office. On the other hand, I have contact with my colleagues and the team there. This strengthens collaboration, and we can grow closer together.

11. The most important quality a colleague/business partner can have?

Growth Mindset. Someone who embraces challenges, is inspired by and strives for the successes of others, sees their own mistakes as opportunities to learn, and is open to learning new things. These people bring the motivation, perseverance, and resilience to successfully drive change.

12. My creative hack

In addition to walks, which help me clear my head and sort thoughts, writing helps me to analyze and solve problems – whether via journaling or in structured Evernote lists. In addition, I sometimes rely on reverse thinking, which involves looking at problems from the opposite direction.

13. The first website I check in the morning

WhatsApp. My partner and I have a long-distance relationship and so the first of the morning is Whatsapp to check last messages and say good morning. Only when it's a very stressful phase and I need a lot of rest and focus, then I open the meditation app Calm first thing. I have been practicing mindfulness and mediation for 10 years to strengthen focus, self-determination, and resilience.

14. My favorite digital tool 

My Gratitude App. This is where I write down, as daily as possible, the good things that happen to me when I've been successful at something or learned something new. This focuses my mind on the positive and increases my satisfaction even in stressful times.

15. The book or series from which I have learned the most for my (work) life

John Strelecky's books The Café at the Edge of the World and Big Five for Life. Very inspiring, profound, and instructive. After that, you definitely think twice about what you want to spend your life doing.

16. Which series, book, or podcast I would generally recommend...

I recommend Mindset by Carol Dweck. In her book, the Stanford professor of psychology describes how our thinking influences successes and defeats, why praise can get in the way of our success, and why talent is not crucial to achieving goals. Likewise, the book shows ways for everyone to get into the “growth mindset”.

But why is a growth mindset so important? In our ever faster spinning world with its complexity and uncertainties, we need to keep adapting. We have to continue to develop throughout our lives. If we want to do this successfully, a growth mindset is elementary.

17. Most prominent follower on social media? 

Oh dear, define prominent 😉 There are so many exciting people there with whom I am in exchange, from whom I can learn and who broaden my horizons. Plus, we support each other... And more and more inspiring personalities join in. That's what the social in social network is all about, isn't it? I would let the numerous advantages with the focus on a prominent follower completely pass me by 😉.

17 and a half: What has always... 

.... inspired me: Other countries and cultures have inspired me as a captain's granddaughter since I was a little girl. At my grandparents' home there were souvenirs from all over the world and, like in a museum, there was always something to discover or to listen to my grandfather spin his sailor yarns. That's why I also like to travel, get to know other cultures, and thus understand the world a little better. This openness to the world also attracts me time and again to companies that operate internationally. It's exciting to think outside the box and keep discovering new opportunities.



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