Jacqueline Juknat has carved out a successful career for herself within the Group: having initially joined the communications team of HDI Deutschland on a temporary basis, she was taken on permanently after a little more than two years, went on to become Head of Internal Communications and ultimately took over in charge of all HD and HSY communication activities. It's been an exciting career trajectory, and her former boss Tatjana Pape has supported her every step of the way. A passion for communication and a trusting spirit of togetherness are the twin hallmarks of the cooperation between these two communications professionals – all the more so now, with change once again on the agenda both career-wise and personally.
Many female employees know this experience all too well: informing your supervisor that you're expecting often goes hand-in-hand with considerable excitement and uncertainty. Your own thoughts are circling around how your boss might take the news about your pregnancy, what parental leave will mean for your professional future and how a good deputy can be organised.
So much the better if you can go into this conversation with a good plan already worked out so as to help shape your own future and that of your fellow colleagues. Jacqueline Juknat, Head of Communications HDI Deutschland and HDI Systeme, had prepared herself in exactly this way when she went in to talk to Christopher Lohmann, her boss and HD CEO. Her inner tension quickly gave way to relief. Sensing just as much joy on his part gave her reassurance, as did the warm reception given to her ideas about a deputy for her parental leave: Tatjana Pape, the predecessor in her managerial role, should take over as her interim substitute for the coming months. Tatjana had left Talanx a couple of years earlier and has since been working as an independent communications expert.
The two of them have been working closely together for quite some years – or to be rather accurate since June 2012, when Jacqueline found her way to the company after many years of agency working in order to support change communication in the HDI Deutschland division. Her boss back then – Tatjana. It very quickly emerged that not only on the interpersonal level are they on the same wavelength. They both love to travel, share a number of tastes including a culinary passion for sushi and are enthusiastic concertgoers.
In their jobs, too, they had their sights set on a common journey – with boundless energy and commitment for tasks in communications, which particularly in the CEO's scope of responsibility bring numerous challenges. Ultimately, it is here that everything comes together in matters of strategic orientation and cultural transformation. You sometimes really have to dig deep, for example when restructuring measures or crises are looming and it's especially important to communicate sensitively.
When Jacqueline was promoted to Head of Internal Communications in her mid-thirties at the beginning of 2016, she kept in place everything that had characterised the team culture under Tatjana: trust in the diverse abilities of the team members and support for independent working at one's own responsibility. And as far as leadership style goes, appreciation, an open discourse and meeting on an equal footing have long been the rule. "Practised hierarchies are a relic of days gone by. What counts is space for ideas and ensuring that everyone feels how important he or she is to the success of the team", believes Jacqueline. In cultural terms, that comes very close to what's currently being elaborated for the entire division in the context of GO25 under agile values.
In October 2018 a new opportunity opened up for Jacqueline on the communications side. Tatjana decided to pursue a different course professionally so as to reshape the compatibility of family – she is a married mother of three – and career for her own personal situation. Jacqueline took over the leadership of all HDI Deutschland communication activities, and shortly afterwards she was additionally assigned responsibility for IT communications. Since then she has performed a dual role. "I took that as a real vote of confidence. And it shows that here in our organisation you can absolutely progress from a temporary position to the level of F1 manager through hard work and dedication", comments Jacqueline.
Tatjana, meanwhile, has remained true to her great passion for communication as she supports companies and managers through change processes. Since her departure she has worked as a freelance consultant, trainer and coach. Not only that, she has invested time in getting certified as a business coach and mindfulness trainer. For Jacqueline, too, it's been all hands on deck with change issues in her new role. After all, HD was going through a crisis at the time and the focus was on restoring the division's competitiveness under then CEO Jan Wicke. Similarly, under his successor Christopher Lohmann it’s all about how the company continues to move forward with a whole range of exciting topics as part of GO25.
At the end of July 2021 a rather different change is now coming up for Jacqueline – she is going on parental leave. Possibly the biggest change that life can bring. So it's good to know that in Tatjana a steady pair of hands is taking over on an interim basis: not only is she superbly familiar with most of the team, she also knows exactly what makes the company tick. "Jacqueline and I have undertaken so many projects in this company side by side. As I see it, the fact that I am now the parental leave replacement for my own successor in this very important role for the division is the logical consequence of a very good professional and personal relationship. And it's great that Christopher is turning Jacqueline's parental leave replacement plans into reality. I am looking forward to rejoining what is still a very familiar team and to the many exciting issues in GO25 that we'll be able to advance together in our communication activities", explains Tatjana. That's until Jacqueline picks up the baton again in Q2/2022 – and moves on to the next chapter of her life, as a top manager and mother.