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Interview with Barbara Karuth-Zelle

How would you describe your job to a child?


Barbara Karuth-Zelle: Imagine you would own many bookshops around the globe in all different cities and you would sell books to older and younger people, thrillers, fantasy books, whatever. And you have customers coming to your shop every day, because they like to read their hard cover books and the paper books. So life is nice, because you earn money, your customers all over the globe are happy and everything is fine and you also employ people, so life is nice. And then imagine one day, the customers don’t want to read the paper books anymore because they see all these tablets which are easier to carry and they would like to switch – and then you also need to switch! You need to make sure that in your shop you have traditional books for the ones that still like them and you also need to make sure that you can already show how the book would look like on the tablet, you need to be able to sell the e-reader.


And this is literally also what Allianz is doing now. Allianz already started to transform into this digitalized world because we don’t want to end up like these big book chains all over the globe. So therefore  we are now transforming Allianz with the colleagues in the OEs into this digital world.


What do you like most about your job?


I like many things most about my job. So let’s focus on three, I like the best. First of all I really love working in this international environment because within Allianz we have great people that now work on this transformation journey. You name it, from India to Italy, Korea, France, I could actually name all Allianz countries where we are working in. And together with them we do – the second thing I like best – problem-solving. Sitting there jointly regardless of the different background or different cultural backgrounds and trying to find the best solution for the customer, for the market, for the local OE and also for the Group.


And the third thing is developing talent, especially in this area. We really work with a lot of young people that are excited to join the group in this transformation. And to see how motivated and curious they are and to see the challenges they take, this is really a pleasure every day.


What is the one thing you would advise women to do if they aspire to be top managers?


Intellectual curiosity. Really know what you are talking about and if you don’t know, go back and do your homework because then you are always capable to take responsibility and to take decisions.


And then, be transparent, be open, be as you are and don’t lose your sense of humor.

Barbara Karuth-Zelle
Barbara Karuth-Zelle

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Flavia Genillard
Allianz SE
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Allianz SE
Phone +49.89.3800-2628
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