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7 Questions on Leadership with Michael Schulz

Name: Michael Schulz

Title: Group Chief People Officer

Organisation: VEON

Born in Germany to German parents, grew up as a country side boy and become a global citizen. Educated as a Lawers. Lived and worked on three continents in many countries. Learned what good leadership and People management looks like in LafargeHolcim where I worked for over 17 years. Have worked in Energy, Retail, Digital/Telecommunications in different Corporate Governance functions and chiefly in People Management. Strong exposure to emerging, frontier markets in Middle East, Asia, Africa and Central America. My passion is to drive business growth through the appropriate organisation, capabilities and people practises.

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

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


Jonno White

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

To constantly align varying and often conflicting interest of shareholders, boards, management, whilst driving a customer, people and community focused business strategy

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

With an open, inclusive mindset, with strong support of a few key mentors who early in my professional life spotted my talent and were able to harness it and bring it to life. Otherwise of course high levels of energy, commitment, drive and very importantly balance and fairness in everything I do

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

Rising early, working out daily (one rest day!!), weeks take into account quarterly corporate calendar requirements including travelling, weekly schedule needs to provide for flexibility to deal with urgent matters. Daily time has early me-time to review and read, internal and external material, 2/3 business meetings, try and avoid back-to-back, find time to ring and chat to one colleagues I haven’t spoken to for some time, dinner with family, again lot of reading and get around 7 hours of sleep.

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

How little sustainable emphasis business still place on building and testing business resilience after a pandemic, being affected by a war and disruption of global supply chains.

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?

1/Authentic Leadership by Bill George (2003). It was a deep discovery journey into myself, leadership style and ‘other focus‘. The insight and putting learning in to practise has stayed with me for many years. Another mor recent book to mention is the ‘Sheik CEO’ by Yasar Jarrar which is a lesson in courage and vision.

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

Learn to ‘look round corners’. Staying in the ‘here and now’ will create great managers. Seeing connections and to anticipate will create great leaders. And… try and find your purpose in life and see to align this with the business you are working for.

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

Never try and understand others through your own eyes. Adopt a style where you will understand others through their eyes. This is particularly relevant for working with different cultures. It is a key ingredient in international business in forging relationships and being able to formulate strategy and be relentless in flawless execution.

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