“We embrace change and always challenge the status quo”
In conversation with Dr. Nina Wagner, Vice President New Product Development, Strategy, and Expansion at HelloFresh
Having an open mindset gave Dr. Nina Wagner the opportunity to discover exactly what she wanted to do professionally. At HelloFresh she leads two teams: Strategic Product Development and Strategy & Expansion. Here is how she’s doing it and what’s important to her in leading her team.
Tell us about your career journey and how you ended up at HelloFresh almost three years ago.
I have worked in various industries and functions since I started my career- some people would even say that my career path is not a straight line. Before joining HelloFresh three years ago, I had worked in strategy consulting, a CEO’s office, business development, product management ,and mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Over the years, I seized opportunities that caught my attention, and took on new challenges that came my way. Ultimately, my experience and skills added up nicely,and shaped my view on what I had really wanted.
I joined HelloFresh because I wanted to work for a company that has a clear mission and a product that I can identify with. I also enjoy working in an international high-growth tech environment where I can actively shape the future of the company. My current role does not only meet these criteria, but it also combines my interests in product development, M&A, strategy, and project execution.
Nina and her teams are located in HelloFresh’s global headquarters in Berlin.
Tell us more about your team and the areas you supervise.
I am currently responsible for two teams, which we have scaled up to an amazing and diverse team of 18 employees: Strategic Product Development and Strategy & Expansion. The Strategic Product Development team aims to expand, optimize and innovate our product portfolio. One of our most recent projects is HelloFresh Market which offers a large assortment of products (e.g. meal occasions, bundles, and side dishes) to our existing customers.
The Strategy & Expansion team focuses on new market entries, brand launches, new verticals/business models, and M&A. In the last two years, they have been responsible for launching HelloFresh in Norway, Italy, and Japan and for acquiring ready to eat brands Factor and Youfoodz. I truly enjoy that the focus of my teams is constantly changing,and that there is absolutely no routine!
What has changed at HelloFresh in the last three years? - What has stayed the same?
We have seen extraordinary growth in a very short time, both economically as well as on an organizational level. This required organizational change and process optimization to manage complexity, support growth, and realize economies of scale.
While managing these challenges we could rely on one of the cornerstones of our company: For about 10 years now, ourcompany DNA has served us well and stood the test of time. Our competitors and the market environment itself might continue to change - our DNA, however, is the glue that binds us together and allows us to pull into the same direction.
Team members attending an external team workshop and cooking event in October 2021.
Which is your favorite part of the HelloFresh DNA?
I obviously like all our values. If I had to highlight one for me personally, that would be Egoless Environment. It means that we embrace change and challenge the status quo. Success is measured by impact, not by title, seniority, or team size. I encourage everyone in my team to express their opinions at all times and to challenge me and the senior leadership team, whether it is in a one-on-one, a team meeting, or a Steering Committee. The best ideas should always win, and even if we disagree, we “disagree and commit”. And we embrace change enthusiastically, and focus on newly created opportunities, rather than remain stuck in the past. For me, the best way to incorporate our HelloFresh DNA is “leading by example”. Our leadership team stands for these values, too, and I am striving to find my way of doing so in an authentic way.
What does success mean to you?
Success is if my team and I achieve our business targets and our personal happiness. It's great to meet or even exceed financial targets and it’s truly amazing to see some of our projects come to life - from the initiating to the closing phase. However, it’s not only about reaching goals, it’s also about how we are getting there. Being honest and authentic, having a strong emotional intelligence, and being friendly and assertive at the same time is very important to me.
Team bonding over tasty food at a picnic under a clear blue sky.