Many businesses start out as a family business. But only a few remain so, growing to huge international empires.
Warsteiner is the exception that only proves the rule.
And this empire has its own empress — Katharina Kramer, the representative of the ninth generation of brewery owners, who have been producing their famous traditional lager since 1753.
People call you a “beer princess” — what do you think about this?
Is it difficult to run a family business in the 9th generation?
This title was presented to me by the German tabloids.
I do not feel like a princess, I am a completely normal person.
My parents brought me up in close connection with our region.
I grew up in the company Warsteiner.
So, when my father asked me if I could introduce myself as the head of the team, I immediately replied "Yes". Thanks to our traditions, we have a strong corporate culture at the brewery.
In addition, our company has a rich history.
We carefully monitor the quality of Warsteiner beer produced under license in different countries.
Therefore, none of the tasters could not distinguish Warsteiner, brewed in Russia, from the same variety, produced in Germany. All this allows you to succeed in the global market.
Are there books and magazines in your office — which ones?
What do you read in your free time?
I like to be aware of everything that is happening in the world, in particular, of course, in the brewing industry.
In addition to daily newspapers and magazines, I read fashion reports and glossy magazines from different countries.
In them, I find a lot of inspiration and new marketing ideas.
Germany is a very emancipated country.
Is it easy for you to run a “male” company with 2,300 employees? What is the gender balance in your business?
Are there any special programs for empowering women?
Leading companies of this scale are always a big responsibility.
However, there is an opportunity to really influence events, and I really appreciate it.
Only one fifth of the staff are women. In our company, women work in all divisions and at all levels of the hierarchy.
But I am not a supporter of quotas.
In my experience, the team works best when working together: men and women with different inclinations and talents.
You studied in London.
Was it difficult to come back and get used to life in a small German town?
After graduating from high school, I wanted to do two things — prepare for my future work and see the world. My studies in the UK and courses in France and Spain allowed me to do this. After graduation, I worked and lived for several years in Cologne, which helped me broaden my horizons.
However, it was easy to return to Warstein, where I was born and grew up and, where my roots are. Thanks to the international orientation of our company, I travel a lot.
In a sense, I’m at home all over the world.
Brewing is a masculine affair.
How do you feel in the new role of the head of the brewing company?
I have never had a problem with this. I practically grew up in a brewery, and many of the old employees have known me since childhood.
Most people treat me with respect and consider it a good thing that a woman now runs a company.
What could you advise women who want to be a leader in "male" industry?
It is hard for me to give any general advice. I am the successor of a successful family business — our products are known in 60 countries of the world and today Warsteiner is the number 1 export brand in Germany among private breweries, so I had special conditions.
However, I think that in any case it is useful to present yourself as a competent and confident specialist.
And you need to have the courage to look at things from different sides and act accordingly.