A year ago, Martina Hacker took over the management of KPM Berlin. Her leadership style: female – with a lot of trust, mutual understanding and an office whose door is always open. An interesting article from our WEISS Magazine No.4...

The path from the historic railings of the KPM Berlin to the greenery of Berlin's Tiergarten is not far - but Martina Hacker's dog takes its time. Meggy stops, sniffs, and walks along very slowly. Your owner stays relaxed, no pulling, no pushing. After all, her Parson Russell Terrier is an old lady at 14 years old - and she shouldn't be rushed.

The managing director of KPM is not a loud driver. With Meggy on a leash, we walk along the water in the zoo. Treats keep the dog happy while taking photos. In order to get Meggy in the right place for the next motif, her owner quickly takes her backwards in her arms, her dirty paws stretched towards the sky in order to protect her light blue blouse and gray blazer. Martina Hacker has an uncomplicated and direct way of approaching things - even at work.

In 2016, the Stuttgart native started as commercial manager at KPM. As managing director, she has been helping to determine the fortunes of the traditional Berlin company for a year. In this position, she acts as a generalist through the great support of the management team in the areas of marketing, retail, product design, production, painting, sales, online and KPM World and is a sparring partner for KPM owner Jörg Woltmann. She does this carefully: “The first year was a learning process for me,” says the 58-year-old, who has worked in the music industry for a long time. “I held back at the beginning. And some people may have thought: Now there's the new top dog, he has to express his opinion." But she preferred to listen first and learn. “In my professional life I have always been looking for role models,” says Martina Hacker. What she admires about Jörg Woltmann is his entrepreneurial spirit, his authenticity and his Prussian virtues: honesty, reliability, punctuality. And that he sometimes sits down with the people in production to eat a Mettbrötchen with them.

It is also important to her to have an open ear for the employees of the Berlin factory. “Our employees give me a lot,” says Martina Hacker, a business economist who also works as a volunteer judge at the labor court. Most of the employees have been working at KPM for many years, not only in painting and production, where special knowledge is required, but also at the administrative level. “They are the experts in their fields. The best ideas usually come from them.”

More than half of KPM's 220 employees are female. There is no testosterone behavior like you see in some leadership circles here.

With Martina Hacker the door is always open - and that's not just an empty phrase. She listens to everything the employees have to say and then makes decisions in consultation with Jörg Woltmann. And the offer to exchange is accepted. Everyone puts their cards on the table and problems are discussed openly - without assigning blame, she says. Would she describe her leadership style as feminine? “Yes,” says Martina Hacker. “At KPM we don’t have the kind of testosterone behavior that you experience in some management circles, where men are often among themselves and try to take over the conversation.” And there is definitely enough female power in the Royal Porcelain Manufactory ensured: More than half of the 220 employees are female. Almost exclusively women work in sales consulting and as porcelain painters. The same applies to the administrative level and marketing. Only in production is the ratio balanced.

“We are currently relying heavily on our online offering. We also have a young, tough team of women there that has brought this area forward,” says Hacker. The history of the traditional company and its products is told in detail on the KPM website, and an advisor can be contacted via chat in the shop upon request. Fans of the brand are kept up to date via Instagram and Facebook.

Another important topic in the company is sustainability. The manufacturer has connected its kilns to the capital's district heating network in cooperation with Vattenfall. The excess process heat can be used directly in Berlin-Charlottenburg

can be used for a warm shower. In order to save energy, Martina Hacker also had the company's lighting converted completely to LED. KPM has been shipping its products in a climate-neutral manner since July, and the managing director will replace the van that drives the factory in Berlin with an electric vehicle. Martina Hacker doesn't want to reinvent the wheel at KPM, but rather learn from the experiences she has had - and continue with the rejuvenation that has already begun.

In her office, some of the successful new developments in the company's history are gathered on a cupboard. For example, there is a cup of the KPM classic KURLAND in the BLANC NOUVEAU version developed in 2013 - it has the famous relief border made of bisque porcelain in a pastel tone. Next to it is a simple, thin-walled LAB cup from KPM's latest, multifunctional series. Table and cooking culture is experiencing an upward trend. For the LAB series, products are gradually being developed that people need today: mortars and pestles, a coffee filter made of porcelain or the mug with a special feel - a favorite of Martina Hacker: she likes to drink her coffee from it in the morning, a cocktail in the evening. There is also a simple CADRE vase from the Bauhaus period on the cupboard. The timeless classic can now be customized by hand with a personal motif. A cell phone photo is sufficient as a template. Meggy is panting on Martina Hacker's vase. Since the dog rarely comes to the office, he is always there, at least in this form. As the 221st employee of KPM, so to speak.

Text: Sandra Winkler

Images: Gene Glover