Interview Juliana Klemm

Juliana Klemm

If you were a tool, which one would it be?
Don’t you have an easier question as a starter? Okay, if I must, then I would be a Swiss pocket knife. Extremely versatile and reliable, works under all circumstances and it opens the door to my garage where I keep the really big tools.


You had multiple roles during your professional life. If you were to start over again and chose a completely different profession, what would that be?
A chef and a restaurant owner. That was an easy one, thank you. In my next life I will definitely turn this passion into a profession.


Everyone is talking about transformation, what are your thoughts on that?
Looking at transformation not in an organizational context, but in a universal one, it means a change of state, shape or status. This is neither positive nor negative, it is just a change. And those who have ever prepared for a marathon, learned a new skill or language know that kind of change of state and its hurdles. But besides the challenges, we consider this to be a positive thing. One of the reasons is because we control the process ourselves; we decide the speed of progress and how much we can take. The goal is to apply the same principle and positive approach to the business context. How can we make people in organizations welcome and adopt a change of state in a similar way, although it might not have been their choice.


Where do you see the biggest challenge when it comes to this?
I can’t give you a generic answer, since I tailor my work to my clients. However, the challenge regarding large and well-established companies is to include the employees in the process, to take into account the technical legacy, to give a new direction, to streamline and to redefine. Ideally, the reason for the transformation is clear to everyone – once the employees understand the reason, they can reach solutions that have long-term benefits, are sustainable and achieve commitment among the employees.


How does your professional development support this view?
For 12 years now I have been working as an employee inside of organizations. I have seen, led and lived transformations in various roles, as an employee, manager, Human Resources and (agile) Coach. No transformation was like the other, and thus different skills were required. I had the opportunity to learn new skills while enhancing existing ones and I was always curious and learned from colleagues, superiors, mentors and from myself. Experiencing how it actually feels being only a passenger of a transformation, with no influence and no control, is very unpleasant. And when I work with employees who are undergoing a transformation, I have so much empathy for them, because I have walked in similar shoes already. At the same time, with the experience of a manager I know the organizational side as well; I know what it means to work towards given KPIs or in certain economic circumstances. Joining those sides to one goal, that is what I work for, that is what drives me.


Are you a serious person?
How did you get that impression? I take the challenges of my job very seriously because I set myself high quality standards – but sometimes a smile or a good laugh go a long way.


You seem to take your professional life very seriously, what about your private life?
Well, we have three children between 4 and 17 years old- I praise every day when they are physically and emotionally healthy. Every day is a good one, when I don’t get called into the principal’s office or my kitchen burns down. And if I hadn’t a relaxed personality… not even botox could fix the wrinkles. No matter whether it is job or private life – five can be an even number sometimes.


So job and family, how do you manage that?
Question back: have you ever asked a man this question?


Good point, I will ask the next one, but how does it work for you?
For my husband and me it works very well. We work as a team and we balance our working engagement so the children always have one of us around. And we both invest in family time; we have the same values when it comes to raising our children. At the same time this is our view, I don’t want to answer this for any other person. Family and the circumstances are different for all of us, sometimes it is more than just challenging to reconcile everything, and it can be extremely difficult. When I work with people in organizations, family is very often an important topic.


When do you consider a job not interesting for you?
If it is only about shiny power point slides and moving hot air instead of content, then please do it with someone else. I am interested in clients who want to change, who want to have an impact, and then I am the right pick. I am a working bee, I have a hands-on mentality and I don’t mind doing the work myself if nobody is around or the skills are missing in the organization.


So more than consulting?
Yes, and why not? Even as a consultant I can make a cup of tea, but I can’t run the whole kitchen myself. So it is a combined effort, and I like to roll up my sleeves and work. This way I can dive into the organization and understand it better. Which is a benefit for my consultancy work and a quick win for the organization. Of course, as a systemic coach, I will act differently, but here the job is a different one.


Last, but not least, which question shall I ask you and what is your response?
“What else?” would be a good one. And I would reply: nothing to add, thank you for the pleasant interview.