2. July 2024

Leading Through Challenge: Building a New Team From Scratch

FPAP on-site in MUC

Nils joined Personio in 2022 as Head of Procurement, excited to build a procurement function from scratch for the first time. Based in Düsseldorf, his role is about helping Personio solve all issues and seize all opportunities that are outside the company’s own capabilities. This means anything involving vendors and suppliers, such as SaaS solutions, hardware, services, consulting, and more.

Nils’ team works to ensure Personio gets the most value for money, while also minimizing the company’s financial and contract compliance risks. They aim to continually improve the bottom line through better license and contract management, improved processes, and other initiatives.

“I love my role,” Nils says, “everyday there is something new to learn. We’re always working close to the product, but also to everything in and around the company itself.”

But even though Nils loves his role and working at Personio, no leadership position is without its unique challenges.

FPAP Team Workshop in Munich
Nils (right) and the FPAP team during a workshop in Munich.

Starting from zero

Nils started out at Personio as the first procurement hire, meaning he was a “one-man show” at the beginning. Soon after, a colleague from his previous company joined and their team was expanded to two. However, their prior team had been eight people on average, so it was challenging to revert back to a so-called “greenfield” situation, i.e. starting from scratch and lacking any constraints imposed by prior work. 

“The chance to build a procurement function from scratch was a super interesting challenge to me,” he says. “But it was also very hard to get used to for the first few months, since there is only so much you can do in a small team.”

Luckily, Personio had most, if not all, of the tools Nils and his team needed already in place. They just needed to connect the dots and figure out how to work smarter. “We got our hands dirty, and defined one process at a time for how we thought things needed to work.”

Building the procurement function from zero was like a giant jigsaw puzzle, says Nils. “We were picking pieces and tools from all over the company, putting them together to see what works and how we could set them up to achieve the desired outcome. There was, and still is, a very special energy around this process that drives us forward.”

FPAP hiking trip Schliersee
The FPAP team on a hiking trip to Schliersee.

Making an impact

The beginning of this process was definitely challenging for Nils, who had to get back into the operational groove after having spent more of his time as a people leader in the previous role. “The first few months were very tiring, to be honest,” he shares. “But I love procurement and I always wanted to be closer to a broader range of topics, so it was a nice change of scenery. It definitely helped to have a very good working relationship with the other colleague on my team.”

Nils and his team were able to go live with the broader procurement services ahead of schedule. They’ve been able to impact their wider team – Financial Planning – by offering a deeper understanding of what’s going on in the company via insights from their contract negotiations and management. 

“We have quite a bit of impact on our financials but also on efficiencies between teams and the overall compliance of Personio,” says Nils. “One example would be in the area of Data Processing, where we work very closely with our colleagues in Legal.”

Nils and fellow remote Personios
Nils coming together with fellow remote Personios in Düsseldorf

Support from all Personios

As Nils and his team were facing these challenges, they had the support of the wider Personio team to back them up. “Personio was great all the way,” he says. “Everyone was super supportive and it felt like large parts of the company were just waiting for someone to take those responsibilities, like the paperwork and diligence processes, off their shoulders so they could focus on their tasks. That’s exactly what we’re here for.”

At Personio, leaders like Nils have the support they need to grow, even in the face of challenges such as these. “If I could give advice to my younger self or someone working toward a leadership position, it would be that it’s okay to not be 100% right all the time. As long as you’re open to other input, own up to and learn from your mistakes, and put enough thought and diligence into a decision, it’s totally okay to not always be on point. Don’t let that take away your confidence and boldness in decision-making.”

Interested in joining a team with a leader like Nils? Good news: Personio is hiring across many teams, including Finance, Legal & Strategy. Head over to our careers page to see open roles. We can’t wait to meet you.

Interested in joining Personio? Explore our open roles and find the right job for you!

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