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7 Questions on Leadership with Dr. Marcell Vollmer

Name: Dr. Marcell Vollmer

Title: Senior Advisor, Startup Investor as Business Angel, and CEO

Organisation: MV Procu GmbH

Marcell Vollmer is Business Angel, Startup Investor, Senior Advisor and CEO at MV Procu GmbH

Before that he was CEO at Prospitalia Group (Private Equity owned group of businesses to provide a procurement marketplace, analytics and consulting in the healthcare industry) and Partner & Director at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) with over 20 years of experience developing and implementing procurement, supply chain, finance, shared services, and digital transformation strategies across industries globally.

Prior to joining BCG, Marcell was Chief Innovation Officer at Celonis, the world’s leading process mining software company, where he was supporting customers and partners in developing and executing digital transformation initiatives.

Marcell brings more than 15 years of successful digital transformation and procurement optimization experience gained at SAP in various roles as Chief Digital Officer, Chief Operating Officer as well as Chief Procurement Officer and Senior Vice President at SAP.

He has also managed various strategy & implementation projects at PA Consulting Group as well as at DHL Express.

Marcell is a wanted speaker at conferences and an active social media influencer with more than 135k followers on LinkedIn and close to 100k on Twitter.

Marcell earned his PhD in Economics from the University of Hamburg in Germany.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Dr. Vollmer's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

As the overall integration lead of a significant acquisition made by SAP, I encountered several challenges. Firstly, we faced the task of implementing the ERP system at a rapid pace, requiring completion within six months, while evaluating over 340 systems and ensuring a successful go-live.

Simultaneously, we had to integrate an organization consisting of more than 6,000 people. Compounding this challenge was the geographical distance, with the acquired company headquartered on the West Coast while I was based in Europe. This necessitated the establishment of a productive working cadence across a nine-hour time difference and motivating teams to go the extra mile on top of their regular duties.

Throughout this endeavor, I confronted technical complexities and had to provide leadership to multiple teams, all while striving to deliver the project on time and within budget.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I had the privilege of gaining early trust to lead the most extensive centralization of customer service centers for DHL Germany, which presented me with a substantial challenge.

However, it also offered a remarkable opportunity for leadership growth shortly after my university graduation. The project's objective was to impact over 300 individuals by transitioning their roles, establishing a new centralized shared services location, and aligning processes with global standards.

Undertaking this endeavor during the New Economy bubble posed significant challenges, especially in attracting and hiring skilled talents. The success of the project was crucial to ensure uninterrupted customer service activities throughout the transition period.

In summary, leading this project provided me with a valuable experience to enhance my leadership skills and tackle complex change efforts in a dynamic and demanding environment.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

As a senior leader, especially in my role as CEO, structuring my workdays is crucial for maintaining productivity, effectiveness, and overall well-being.

In general, I structure my workdays as follows:

Morning Routine:

My morning routine begins at 5:20 am, starting with reading emails, prioritizing my most important tasks for the day, and checking the news and social media. Afterward, I take a shower before either traveling to the office or beginning work at the office. I don't have breakfast, but I do enjoy my morning coffee.

Early Task Completion:

Once I arrive at the office (accompanied by another coffee), I immediately focus on the most important task for the day. I find satisfaction in getting things done early, and having one significant task completed before meetings start sets a positive tone for the day.

Balancing Meetings and Strategic Work:

Much of my day is spent in meetings, both virtual and physical, and I also travel frequently. Therefore, I have to carefully prioritize time for strategic work. This includes long-term planning, business innovations, and ensuring customer satisfaction.

Lunchtime Engagement:

I utilize lunchtime to meet with my team, customers, or partners. I avoid eating alone and value this time for socializing, networking, and engaging with people. The same applies to evening hours and dinner time, especially when I am on the road.

Afternoon and Evening Engagements:

Afternoons and evenings are often filled with meetings as well. Whenever possible, I try to spend some quality time in the evening with my wife or meet friends, particularly when I am not traveling.

Weekend Recharge:

I make a conscious effort to keep weekends free from meetings and events to recharge. I prioritize spending time with my family and use some leisure time for reading, taking walks with our foster dog, or meeting friends.

By adhering to this structure, I am able to manage my responsibilities effectively, balance my work commitments with personal life, and ensure that I am continuously striving towards my professional and personal goals as a senior leader.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

A good example of a recent leadership lesson that a typical CEO might learn or be reminded of is the importance of transparency and open communication during challenging times. This lesson could have been triggered by a significant crisis or a difficult decision that I as CEO had to navigate.

Good examples are the Covid-pandemic, the supply chain crisis when it was hard to get critical supplies for your company or during reorganisation of your business

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey:

Covey's classic book presents seven foundational habits that can transform personal and professional effectiveness. It emphasizes principles of personal leadership and proactive behavior.

Stephen Covey has helped me to define my leadership style and learn from the examples provided, which I could verify during my different leadership roles

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

As a young leader, your journey will be filled with challenges, opportunities, and uncertainties. Embracing a mindset of continuous learning and growth will not only help you navigate these experiences effectively but also enable you to thrive in your leadership role.

This advice is so crucial and will help to increase your adaptability, your drive for innovations, your personal resilience in challenging times, empathy for others, inspiring teams and leading by example

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

In my personal annals of my own leadership journey, I found myself at the helm of a remarkable transformation – the complete overhaul of a procurement organization.

Armed with a vision to globalize all teams, define end-to-end source-to-pay processes, and reorganize teams, my mission was to create a future-oriented global procurement powerhouse within a mere three months.

The task ahead was colossal, demanding an unwavering commitment to excellence and a relentless pursuit of innovation. I knew that forging a united global procurement front was not just a vision; it was a necessity to drive efficiency, harness synergies, and unlock untapped potential across borders.

As I began weaving my vision into reality, I knew that the key was not merely in the grandeur of the concept, but in the meticulous execution that followed.

I embarked on a collaborative journey, engaging stakeholders at every level, from the C-suite to the frontlines of procurement. Together, we crafted a shared purpose, aligning our objectives to a singular, unified goal.

The most important lesson I have learned is that you need to build a great team and trust your leaders.

Together as a team, we have shown that with vision, resilience, and collaboration, we can transform not just an organization, but an entire paradigm of possibility.

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