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Marion Quast from Victorinox: "Competence is not a matter of gender"

Julia Bernert

Published on 31.10.2023

In the PSI interview, Victorinox‘s Head of Corporate Business gives interesting insights into everyday leadership. We spoke to Marion Quast about her career and valuable advice, about equality, New Work and: Responsibility.

At PSI 2023, for the first time, Ladies’ Lunch was held, in order to consolidate and connect women in the promotional products industry in particular. What was your impression?

Marion Quast: I was thrilled to get the invitation. Traditionally, the promotional products sector is a business with a rather low proportion of women in leadership roles and so it makes sense to connect and share experiences. The PSI team, with Petra Lassahn and her – predominantly female – team is ideal for building up a network. So the Ladies’ Lunch was a good first opportunity to meet women who have a similar area of responsibility, similar interests.

How did you achieve the position in which you are now working?

Marion Quast: “My current role and span of control is very similar to my role at my previous employer. Concerning my success factors in earning the management role, I can name the following. Firstly: a broad commercial background in a major company in the areas of sales, marketing and corporate strategy. Secondly: communication skills and team capability. Thirdly: regular participation in training measures.

What’s the biggest challenge in your job?

Marion Quast:Aligning our customers’ interests with the interests of the company, aiming for a win-win situation. One example would be making the continued development of the digital infrastructure at Victorinox accessible and utilisable for the promotional products industry as well.

There are still not many women in management roles in the promotional products sector. What’s behind that, in your view?

Marion Quast:Essentially, the promotional products industry consists of small and medium-sized companies that are able to react to customers’ desires flexibly and individually. Traditionally, these tend to be led by men rather than by women – with the possible exception of married couples when they’re involved in the business. In big companies, the message has got through that diverse, mixed teams are more successful. Women are quite naturally a part of that.

Let’s talk about the new way of working: digital and remote, job sharing, mentoring and work-life balance.

Marion Quast:A healthy work-life balance is important, so that employees are able to perform at their best every day. To that end, there are also special offerings at Victorinox, like yoga during the midday break or Lunch & Learns, so interesting courses on work topics or culture.

From your experience: are there certain instances or skills in business life where women are superior to men or which women find harder than men?

Marion Quast: Empathy and good communication skills are more attributed to women. Ultimately, though, it’s a matter of personality, in my view.

What would you say are the most important capabilities required in your job?

Marion Quast:Developing visions, leadership qualities, being able to listen to customers and employees and drawing the necessary conclusions from that.

What is the best professional advice you’ve ever been given?

Marion Quast: Being patient and waiting out the moment is sometimes more important than swift, active dealing – that was the advice of my boss, who I remember fondly.

What was the most recent thing you learned?

Marion Quast: Details about the different composition of the steel used in Victorinox knife production.

What motivates you daily?

Marion Quast:Every day, I look forward to hearing about the very different needs of our European customers – it is absolutely wonderful to see the opportunities that open up as a result.