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“We need to act like a startup and apply the insights from successful Indie Brands”

Hi everyone,  

I’m Jacek Brozda, Manager Ventures and New Business at Beiersdorf in Seoul, South Korea. My journey within this company already began in 2015, when I joined the BEYOND BORDERS graduate program in Digital Marketing and eCommerce. Since this was the first program that was fully designed around Digital as emerging topic, it was really exciting to be a part of it: Within 18 months, I had the chance to literally go ‘beyond borders’ in terms of functions, brands and countries. I am especially grateful for the opportunity to join international teams in China and South Korea, which are both leading markets in terms of digitalization. Shortly after having finished the graduate program, I came to Berlin for an in-house startup project. It was quite exciting, because we worked on a disruptive skin care solution and the development of a new business model. During that time, we were introduced to working techniques like Lean Startup, MVP and Design Thinking. Drawing from those insights and incorporating them in a large organization like Beiersdorf helps us to become more agile and entrepreneurial today.

When I started as a trainee, I did not know which doors would open – today I live and work in Seoul, which was always a dream of mine!
family, work life balance

At Beiersdorf, our core values CARE and TRUST are lived throughout the organization. For me, this is also expressed in my relationship with my mentors, who share their experience and help me guiding my career. Among those I am counting Thomas Grunzke, the Director for Northeast-Asia, who has been my supervisor during my time abroad. He recognized my passion for new initiatives and believed that I would be a great fit for our South Korean business unit, which is well-known for its entrepreneurial spirit. My wife and I were very excited about this new chance, since we have always dreamt of living in Asia. Finally, after a few interviews with the Korean team, the decision was made and we moved to Korea in 2017.

Korea is a very fascinating country in so many ways. It is culturally and historically well rooted, but at the same time the country is fast-paced and modern. From a business-perspective, Korea is one of the leading trend hubs for skin care. Everyone in our industry knows today about K-Beauty and how it has been expanding rapidly across the globe. This success derives from a very competitive market, where hundreds of skin care brands fight for the consumers’ trust.  And with their famous 10-step skin care routine, consumers in Korea are among the most sophisticated.

The more challenging and exciting is my position as Manager Ventures and New Business, since I am responsible for the launch of new skin care brands in the market. This requires a total different approach than in Europe. We need to act like a startup and apply the insights from successful Indie Brands. For instance, I am very proud of my team for the launch of Hidrofugal in Korea, because it was the first time for Beiersdorf to introduce a deodorant brand with maximum focus on digital channels. We insourced new skills in design development and managed all digital media channels in-house. This helped us to be more agile and leverage consumer data to drive better campaign performance.

For the launch of the NIVEA Accelerator program, my team started working with WeWork, which is targeting Korean startups.
WeWork office
WeWork office Seoul

I am also in charge of our Venture Development activities. This is an exciting new division, because we are responsible to build our first startup accelerator here in Korea. For this purpose, we formed a strategic partnership with WeWork Korea to enhance our access to the startup ecosystem. Both of our companies align on the vision to empower the next generation of Korean beauty disruptors.

But to be honest, the process of creating this program itself was very startup like. Instead of hiring an agency, we would just do it ourselves: leaving the office for networking, attending events, meeting with startups. One of the most interesting learnings: with every new partnership, our know-how would grow. For instance, there were several insights which we were able to benefit from immediately in order to improve our ways of working or to foreshadow next industry trends. By doing it in-house, we also developed our own startup platform, which I guess is now the most updated database of beauty startups in Korea. But what is even more important, we are maintaining close relationships to innovative entrepreneurs, angel investors and other ecosystem players – without any middlemen.

The winners of the top five startups
Beiersdorf Korea selected the final top five beauty startups for its NIVEA Accelerator NX

Such initiatives become increasingly important, because I firmly believe that large organizations today need to embrace a new mindset for growth. As we have learned from other industries, change or even disruption can happen quite rapidly. Right now, there is no uprising “beauty unicorn”, but eventually there is a revolution in our industry ahead which we want to lead. That’s why our efforts in Korea are fully aligned with the headquarter team to find innovative partners that will join us to shape the future of skin care.

Editors worldwide

Our guest editors worldwide

In addition to our main editorial team, many international colleagues regularly contribute to our corporate blog. From Europe to Asia, from Durban to Buenos Aires, Dubai or Sydney, they report on exciting projects from our more than 160 affiliates around the world, giving you an insight into Beiersdorf's local working environment.

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