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“We share our dream job”

Catherine Niebuhr (l.) and Nadine Bartenschlager share their dream job as management tandem.

“A lot is possible in this company,” Nadine Bartenschlager knows. She was not the only one to experience this during her career at Beiersdorf. The same is true for Catherine Niebuhr. Since May 2022, they have jointly named themselves CaN and, as a management tandem, hold the position of Marketing Director Management Unit Germany. The responsibility at management level is great: the NIVEA market with the highest sales worldwide, an annual marketing budget in the area of millions and a team of around 50 are all associated with this.

As Managing Director, Christian Haensch is responsible for the operational business of Beiersdorf’s largest company in Germany and also in Switzerland. He made the case for putting the successful women in tandem at the helm of German marketing: “For more diversity, innovative strength and competition for talent, Beiersdorf set out some time ago to redesign working environments and also to rethink leadership. This includes developing jobsharing into topsharing. I am very pleased that Catherine and Nadine are now bringing this forward-looking leadership model to life on this management level.” 

Catherine Niebuhr and Nadine Bartenschlager have a lot planned for their new task. The rejuvenation of Beiersdorf’s iconic NIVEA brand, sustainability and digitalisation are important levers that will ensure that the traditional brand continues to inspire loyal fans and attract new consumers:    

Congratulations, Catherine and Nadine, on your new position: how does it feel?

Nadine: It feels great and it really is our dream job to take on the marketing responsibility for NIVEA as the biggest skin care brand in its home market of Germany. I consider it a great gift that I get to do it in tandem with Catherine. 

Catherine: I feel the same way. There are many parallels between us, we have known each other well for a long time, we have looked for each other and found each other. The idea of applying for a leadership position as a tandem had been around for a long time. We were encouraged by the many successful tandems in the company, whose successful work proves it: There is some truth in the formula one plus one equals three. The last Beiersdorf “Women in Leadership Convention” also provided an impetus. 

You managed to combine family and career: Were there any role models and is Beiersdorf a good employer in this respect?

Nadine: Definitely, yes. For Catherine and me, balancing private life and career was always important. We both left the company three times, for the children and for a sabbatical to travel the world. Both of us have worked in various marketing functions and on all NIVEA categories. Beiersdorf has opened many doors for me over the years. If you communicate your wishes transparently and the job and performance fit, a lot is possible.

Catherine: That’s true. Nadine and I have both been on board for 20 years and each have two children, all still under ten. Nevertheless, we were able to have a great career in the company. I myself had many female superiors at Beiersdorf and living examples of how to successfully reconcile job and family. Here Beiersdorf is further ahead than many other companies – even if there is still a lot to do on the way to real gender equality.

The name CaN is derived from the first letters of your first names: Why do you fit well together as a team and what does one bring to the table that the other may have less of?

Catherine: We are both creative, like to work on ideas for the future, have a lot of power and are generally similar. About Nadine, I would say she’s a total achiever, gets things done and sees them through. If you compare us, she’s a bit crazier than me (laughs). Nadine also has a lot of empathy for people and a good sense of what makes them tick and what they need.

Nadine: Dealing with each other, reliability, respect, quality standards – we definitely share the same value system. That is certainly the prerequisite for working in tandem. Apart from that, Catherine is a very good analyst and strategist. She often takes a step back to look at the big picture and then make a decision. 

What exactly is your area of responsibility and what have you set yourselves?

Nadine: With our team, we are responsible for the entire product portfolio of the NIVEA brand family in Germany and Switzerland and are often the lead country in Europe for the implementation of promotions and launches. In addition, digital marketing, the NIVEA Houses and Consumer Service fall into our area. For more than 110 years, NIVEA has stood for trust and continuity. We want to maintain both, but at the same time rejuvenate the brand and ensure that it remains relevant. 

Catherine: Sustainability and good digital marketing are very important levers in this. We have a great team that set the right course with our predecessor Jörg Grünwald and has already made a difference. We are building on this strong foundation. Jörg loves the brand as much as we do and has given us the opportunity to understand his thoughts and expertise during a transitional phase. You couldn’t wish for a better start to such a responsible task.  

What do you see as the biggest challenges and levers?

Catherine: First of all, our new role is very complex and challenging in itself. On top of that, marketing is currently in a transformation phase. It is important for us to bring the team along well and to keep motivation high despite all the changes. To do this, we have to organise ourselves well as a tandem and grow together as a management duo. As CaN, we speak with one voice – “One face to the organisation” is the motto.

Nadine: Of course, it is a challenge to rejuvenate a successful traditional brand like NIVEA. Our goal is to attract new consumers, but at the same time to continue to inspire the loyal fans of our brand. To do this, we have to successfully launch unique innovations from our research and development and set relevant themes. Aspects of sustainability play just as important a role as the advancing digitalisation, which is significantly changing our markets and communication with consumers. Among other things, because the online marketplace is huge, people are much better informed and seek direct dialogue. Brand management must reflect all of this.

Let’s turn the clock forward one year: What do you wish for?

Catherine: That we run like a well-oiled clockwork as a tandem, that we motivate the team well and that they stand behind us as a leadership duo. And that we master the upcoming challenges just as well as the current crises that affect our entire world and with it our daily business.

Nadine: It is a great appreciation that Beiersdorf has given us the role of Marketing Director Management Unit Germany. We want to show that we manage this well as a management tandem. By the way, CaN is not only derived from our first names Catherine and Nadine, but also stands for “can do”. There is nothing we cannot do together with the team.

Beiersdorf job sharing logo

Jobsharing at Beiersdorf
Jobsharing means that employees share a role while dividing their working hours individually. Beiersdorf has been actively promoting the flexible working time model for many years. Even complex jobs, demanding positions and management tasks that would be almost inconceivable on a part-time basis can be managed through job sharing. Around 20 tandems in positions with personnel responsibility currently prove that nothing stands in the way of a career.

In total, around 40 tandems work in a wide variety of jobs at Beiersdorf AG (as of 5/2022). “Two heads, twice the creativity, better solutions” is the motto that applies to them all. Personal development and qualification for larger roles is also possible in tandem. Beiersdorf offers targeted support in this regard. It is important that the partners are aware of the development opportunities of their joint position and that there is agreement on the chosen path. 

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