Like it

10/13/2020

“It is exciting to help shape the digital transformation”

Joe Comiskey is interested in people and their behaviour. Why do they act like they do? What makes them tick? These are questions that have occupied the 35-year-old since his university days – and questions to which he is continuously seeking answers. For the theology graduate, who has been head of eCommerce in Europe since June 2020, it is all about tailoring the manner in which consumers are approached. It is about online shopping, digital innovation and the Europe-wide development of Beiersdorf’s digital sales activities.

Time and again, Joe is asked how and why he made the leap from theology to the commercial and digital world of e-commerce. He finds it an easy question to answer. “Both areas are largely based on how people’s faith or belief in something influences and drives their behaviour.” He then adds: “I am interested in the motivation behind their decisions. The reasons may often be mundane when deciding which product to buy, but consumers ultimately make their choice on the basis of the product in which they believe.”

Joe is passionate about the digital world.

Step by step towards a digital business

During his time studying theology, he wanted to be a teacher. “I really like sharing my knowledge and ideas with others and seeing how they develop.” Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why he feels so at home in his current management position. “Here I have the opportunity to contribute my experience and help my team to develop.”

After graduating from university, he initially tried his hand at teaching and worked at various schools. However, some colleagues advised him against pursuing the career. “More and more bureaucracy, less and less time spent teaching,” was the message he received at the time. Joe took their advice and decided to make the switch to the world of business. “I was specifically looking for a graduate management scheme – this is something that appealed to me given their focus on development.” He found what he was looking for at an international consumer goods company – and the FMCG industry became his first professional home. He gained experience in category management for health and beauty products, but with the growing importance of eCommerce he crossed over to exclusively online and multichannel customers. Joe focused on continuously building up his digital expertise and took on various roles step by step. He worked with the UK’s biggest e-commerce retailers, ambitious start-ups, and has also been actively involved with the big tech companies over the course of his career. With a healthy dose of self-deprecation, he refers to himself as a “not-so-secret geek” and says: “I fully specialize in digital business nowadays.”

Ideally learn something new every day

The Englishman from Birmingham has always chosen his employers with great care: “I look at the culture of the company I work for. I focus on its ethical values in relation to people and sustainability.” In 2017, he made the move to Beiersdorf, initially as head of digital for Northern Europe. It represented an excellent opportunity to work more internationally, while enabling him to hone his digital marketing skills. When Joe looks back at this time, he is left in no doubt: “I was lucky to have joined a fantastic team back then.” Together they received an Epica Award for the digital NIVEA campaign entitled “The Man Who Changes Mondays” When Joe was approached this year and asked if he would be interested in the newly created position of head of eCommerce for Europe, he jumped at the chance. In keeping with his motto “Being comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Joe finds it very “refreshing” to learn something new every day after a few months in his new job. “That’s what I like most of all!”

Joe and his family are professed Disney fans.

Free time is spent with the family – and Mickey Mouse

As part of the company’s C.A.R.E.+ strategy, Beiersdorf has a clear focus on the rapid growth of digitalization. “Accordingly, much more attention is being paid to our work internally and externally,” confirms Joe. “I find it hugely exciting to play my part in shaping this transformation process, whilst enabling my colleagues and myself to continuously develop.” As such, his new role also covers elements of change management. After all, a key aspect of eCommerce also involves developing new ways of working together and boldly embracing them. It is clear that such a highly dynamic working environment requires a great deal of energy. Joe, a professed Disney fan in both a personal and professional capacity, finds it among his loved ones. He now lives in London with his wife Nikki and daughter Belle. “My family is really important to me,” says the proud father. “I spend most of my free time with them. And with my nephews, who often come on holiday with us.” For example, to Disney World – of course.

Blurring the lines between online and offline

When asked about the digital future and the opportunities in the area of e-commerce, Joe’s reply is short and sweet: “Rapid growth.” The Covid-19 pandemic has further accelerated this development. He says that it will be interesting to see what happens over the coming weeks and months. It may well be the case that the convenience of online shopping for the consumer is simply too tempting for them to return to the stores en masse and shop in the same way as they did before the coronavirus pandemic. Joe adds that he often finds it strange how people talk about digitalization – as if it were something completely detached from the offline world. “Consumers don’t think about whether they are online or offline. The lines between both areas have been blurred for a long time.” For him, the trend towards eCommerce is more than simply “nice to have” for companies. “In the long term, it is a critical success factor and vital to the survival of our business,” says Joe with conviction. “Creative solutions and an uncompromising focus on the consumer provide the basis for ultimately being on the winning team.”

Ready for the challenge?

Then apply now! One last tip: if the right opening isn’t available right now, simply activate our job agent. It will keep you informed and let you know as soon as there is a new opening in your desired area.
Find our current openings here
Diana Lühmann

About the editor: Diana Lühmann

Since autumn 2019, Diana has been responsible for corporate communication related to HR and inspiring people at Beiersdorf. These include the areas of Diversity, Learning & Development, Career, Leadership, and Health. Previously, she was in charge of R&D Communications and explored the exciting world of our research and development.