What is special about METRO MARKETS – which was kind of a corporate tech start-up within METRO AG?
You can’t call it a tech start-up – or start-up at all for that matter. And that’s why it’s special. We already know what we need to do, we know what is needed for market-fit because METRO has been working with the hospitality sector for decades. And as part of METRO we were lucky to have skipped the phase when you start with absolutely nothing because from the very beginning, we had fantastic support from the headquarters. We also have very senior and experienced individuals in all areas. Where most start-ups have a business plan and some vague expectations, we have yearly commitments, are 100 % audited and are really serious with compliance and responsibility. Although chaotic in the first months, this place has felt far more mature and organised than anywhere else I’ve worked.
You’ve worked with many companies in many countries. How – and why – did you start working with METRO MARKETS?Well, initially I applied for the Chief Technical Officer position but then retracted my application because I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue doing top level roles. But some time and another project later I contacted them again and asked whether there was a non-C-level role I could apply for. I just felt that I could provide more value that way. I’ve been taking on leadership roles before, but I just really like working ‘in the field’. I wanted to be free to do that and be able to build a team and to mentor them.
Among his colleagues, John is also known as the ‘Wizard’ - because he worked long hours to implement a software of the same name. The humorous thank-you gift from his team also expresses the spirit of METRO MARKETS: a ‘wizard hat’.
And then they offered you the Head of Engineering position?No, I had to go through the application process. But before I did so, I asked whether I could ‘interview’ the person who would be my future CTO because I knew that I wanted someone who would be more of a partner than a boss. A few beers in EigelStein later we both realised that it would be the beginning of a great partnership – and that made me very happy! So, then I did all the necessary interviews for the position – which we at METRO MARKETS call Seller Tribe Tech Lead – and here I am.
What is special about the culture at METRO MARKETS, and at METRO in general?
Everyone is caring and gets along very well – even if we have business pressure and obligations. I’ve worked in many enterprise level corporations and from day one I felt that the people at METRO are always open and collaborative. They share wisdom and knowledge in a humble, supportive way. We’ve had many ups and downs in the past year and a half and through it all we supported each other and learned to be realistic with our expectations. Because actually there is one thing start-up about us is: our growth. And that fact that everyone is taking ownership of the whole operation and can greatly impact the company in many aspects. What also helps is our sense of humor – and our deep love for candy.
What do you consider most valuable in a work environment?
A computer with internet access – everything else is optional (laughs). But for real: It’s all about trust. And in the Covid world right now you can’t build that without communication. We talk frequently across all disciplines within our organisation, everyone relates on a personal basis and we try our best to keep that up even when things get complicated. What we achieved in such a short time is the best evidence that if you trust the people you work with, you can achieve a shared vision and cohesion for the betterment of the company.
What differs the METRO marketplace from other seller platforms?
We’re very seller centric. Behind the scenes all of the technology is about empowering the success of your sellers. And everything we do on behalf of METRO is always challenged as to whether it is in their interest. I guess you can directly apply METRO’s claim ‘Your Success is Our Business’ to METRO MARKETS as well because we not only care about the success of our customers but also about the success of the sellers.
To offer professional customers everything they need to equip and run their businesses, METRO puts them in touch with retailers specialising in nonfood products – in the online marketplace for the food service industry which was specially developed for this purpose.
More about the 6 strategic subject areas in the Annual Report 2019/20.