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Mission Future – Inspiration Silicon Valley

Four days in Silicon Valley, five Beiersdorf digital experts, seven impressive companies, numerous moments and conversations: I gained deep insights into the position, motivation, technical knowledge and goals of some of the world’s most important and dynamic companies and their employees.

My name is Se-Ye Oh and I work as a Brand Leader for Beiersdorf in South Korea. Together with my eCommerce colleagues Howard Yang from China (Head of eCommerce China) and Meike Stiller from Germany (eCommerce Manager), I travelled to Silicon Valley, California on a special mission. Our goal: to scout alternative business models. Our inspiration: the global players in the digital media and technology sector. We were accompanied on our four day trip to the States by Marta Patrón and Zhong Xiao from the Beiersdorf HQ in Hamburg.

There are about 7,000 technology companies in Silicon Valley employing more than 500,000 people in a small area. This place contains so much innovation and disruptive thinking, so many visions – the craziest ideas become reality here. Today, I want to share with you the spirit of this place and my experiences there.

*Video creator: Zhong Xiao
Music source:  


Day 1, Monday, July 17

Three vastly different companies in one day: Autodesk is a software company which creates software for architecture, engineering, media & entertainment. It is considered to be the pioneer of Computer Aided Design software. Clients use the technology to create digital models and processes for the visualization, simulation and analytics of their projects. It helps them to test their ideas and concepts under realistic conditions before they become reality.

At Twitter, I was impressed with the reinvention after a whole host of difficulties in recent years. There were only text messages at the start – no ads at all. The group was brave and found its way to the stock market. Fuse Project is a design company which provides brand strategy and product concepts. Their working approach is split into two parts: half of their projects are with large companies and the other half with startups. This helps them to understand both ends of the spectrum and cross reference to bring out-of-box ideas to all clients.


Day 2, Tuesday, July 18

Google was a company we were very excited about visiting. And it was truly inspirational. Google does everything it can to be highly efficient on the one hand, and to provide its employees with a motivating and pleasant environment on the other hand. We asked our host about his greatest motivation. He replied without hesitation that it was the fact that he was surrounded by the greatest innovation of our time. Every Thursday, they have a weekly meeting where the upper management, including CEO Larry Page, shares news on products and recent developments, followed by an open Q&A session. This empowers employees – to see that they are making changes in the world and that they are being heard by the company.


Day 3, Wednesday, July 19

At Facebook, the first impression we got was that it felt like being in Disneyland. The office is like a town, including a bank, sweetshop, bar, bike shop and even a spa! However, the most impressive aspect was their core values: #1 Focus on Impact, #2 Be Open, #3 Be Bold, #4 Move Fast, and #5 Create Social Values. These core principles are noticeable in everything.  For example, the 50-percent-rule. Goals are set so high that even when only 50 percent is achieved, it still results in a job well done. The lock down principle is also interesting. If there is a project with huge potential, they implement a “lock down”, allowing the team to stop regular work and focus on the new project.

Day 4, Thursday, July 20

LinkedIn, the online career platform, focuses on people’s professional lives. That’s why its own employees are seen as the most valued asset. All employees are encouraged to bring new ideas to the table, and are often given opportunities to pitch for funds. The last station was German Accelerator  –  a non-profit organization with 90 percent of its funding coming from the German government. It focuses on bringing German startups to Silicon Valley. The most important criterion when selecting the startups is the team. The team is a vital aspect of the success of the business model, their passion, experience and ability to collaborate.

For me this journey was a highlight of my career. I learned three things in particular, which I will take with me and apply to my everyday working life at Beiersdorf:

1) Be open – sharing is the key
2) Keep moving and always reach for the stars – no change is the riskiest choice
3) Fail hard – the greatest innovations come from failure, so constantly question yourself, "What would you do if you weren’t afraid?" 

About the author: Se-Ye Oh

Se-Ye Oh joined Beiersdorf Korea in 2015 as eCommerce Intelligence Manager. She drove the eCommerce business with a fast growing sales channel, by leveraging the channel as a source of data for promotion optimization and harvesting consumer insight for online consumer communication applications. She is now working as Brand Leader in the Pharmacy Business Unit for new brand launches, applying her experience to develop on- and offline integrated launching strategies.