Matthias Grafe | Head of Group Internal Sales and Sales Management

Please introduce yourself briefly.

My name is Matthias Grafe and I was born in Wolfratshausen near Munich. I went to school in Ulm and it is where I complete high school. After training as an industrial clerk at UZIN UTZ, I qualified in business management, studying while working. I am now head of internal sales and Group sales management, and I am also involved in several internal company projects.

Why did you want to work for the UZIN UTZ Group?

Twenty years ago, UZIN UTZ was much smaller. I only had about300 employees and was not as well known as it is today. So I found out about the position from an ad at the job center. Starting my career in a medium-sized company appealed to me very much. I was sure that I can develop here. Flat hierarchies give you freedom to act and to develop. As a rapidly growing company, we are now active in 49 countries and there area about 1200 people working in the Group. So a lot has happened since then and I have been able to actively participate and contribute to this growth, and I am very proud of that.

Describe your career at UZIN UTZ so far – from your first day at the company to now

My career is certainly colorful and I have had several roles in the past. After my training, my first stop was customer service. Another important milestone was my roles as SAP Project Manager - Applications. This is where I got a broad basic knowledge and understanding of processes and the Board noticed my work in some projects. As a result, 11 years ago I was given responsibility for developing the sales management department and had an opportunity to shine in a totally new role. I am now head of the 20-person team as Head of Internal Sales and Group Sales Management.

What are your responsibilities within the department?

As Head of Internal Sales, I am responsible for customer service here and abroad. This covers the customer process end-to-end. From offer through receipt of the order and the delivery to invoicing. For Sales Management, I am responsible for the reporting for around 120 sales colleagues. Other focus areas include controlling, pricing implementation and design, and running and developing our CRM system. I am also responsible for our service centers. These are a back office for sales to organize customer training and various other things.

Tell us a little more about your team and your tasks.

As already mentioned, we are a very fast-growing company and our corporate strategy is to achieve sales of 400 million euros by 2019. The logical consequence is that my entire area is growing. In addition to supporting various projects, such as digitalization of order acceptance, the development of customer master data and customer focus, my main task, of course, is HR management. I have a very diverse team, all ages. Two of my colleagues have been working for UZIN UTZ for more than 35 years. Seven members of the team just completed training with us. I really love this mix of experienced and very young colleagues.

What challenges are you dealing with at the moment?

The biggest challenge is how to develop different job sharing models. We do not want to do without and we cannot do without young parents, so it is very important to find sensible solutions to make returning to work after parental leave the best possible experience. This is a challenge, of course, but one that I relish. From my own experience and as the father of a three-year-old son, I know how important it is to lead a balanced and fulfilled life. Achieving a good balance is therefore hugely important to me.

What skills are required to work in your division?

It is very important to me that everyone works independently and on their own responsibility. A keen sense for the needs of our customers and, of course, pleasure dealing with customers are basic requirements to work in my team. Accurate work and a certain amount of organizational skill is essential.

What would you do differently right now?

Not much, it is all good as it is. I can test my abilities every day and continue to develop. Our appreciative corporate culture is unique and I have been loyal to the company for many years. There is one thing I would do differently in hindsight, though -  I would love to spend some time of my life abroad. I really envy students and young professionals for the wealth of experience they get from living abroad. 

What would you say to sum up?

For me, UZIN UTZ means going happily to work every morning and having the opportunity to shape the development of your area every day with a very high degree of freedom and as part of a successful team.

Conducted in May 2017.

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