From Separate Identities to a Unified Blue Heart: Building Culture and Leadership at Körber

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By Gary Flood, Senior Journalist, The HR Congress


Gabriela Fanta, Head of Group HR at Körber, explains the company’s journey towards unity through a new branding strategy, and how they achieved a new sense of empowerment and entrepreneurship across the company. Fanta also emphasizes the importance of authentic storytelling to build trust with both employees and customers, and shares how HR can be entrepreneurial and innovative in their outreach efforts.

Gabriela Fanta
Head of Group HR at Körber

At the last (November 2022) The HR Congress World Summit, we heard at the show from Head of Group HR Gabriele Fanta on something a bit intriguing: how to turn a major multinational into ‘authentic ‘blue.’ 

What ‘blue’ here means isn’t sadness, but quite the opposite—as the blue heart emoji signifies the expression of love, support, admiration, happiness, and excitement and which is increasingly being used by brands as a neutral way to depict the human heart. 

Fanta works at German industrial enterprise Körber, a EUR 2bn, 12,000-plus employee diversified multinational working in everything from digital to tobacco and pharma. 

So, how do you go ‘blue’? Read on to find out. 

“I personally love both HR and communications—which is exactly what we have to do when we have to pursue a common ground for Leadership and Culture building as well, communicating and setting a solid ground to enable dialog.” 

The speaker is Gabriela Fanta, Head of Group HR at Hamburg-headquartered Körber. 

Fanta explained that since September 2022, all the many companies in the group now operate under the umbrella of the Körber brand. 

That’s in sharp contrast with the previous set-up, which featured separate Körber companies going to market with over 50 separate identities. 

This was both for simplification and branding, she says—but also to support a new overall strategy of achieving market leadership through technology leadership. “Since you can combine many Körber solutions out of our business areas, it was necessary to explain what’s covered all about because with more than 50 brands you can easily just confuse the customer.” 

But to make that external brand roll out work, she told The HR Congress World Summit 2022 delegates, there was lots of internal stuff to do to first—starting with making sure external employer reputation started with an employee experience that could be seen externally.  

A new sense of unity across the company’s 100 global locations 

That reset started by going back to the company’s roots, as the original Herr Körber personally held more than 200 patents and was a “super entrepreneurial” leader. 

“So, we want to think that the people working in our company, no matter if they’re doing in running payroll or they’re working digital on fancy solutions, are all entrepreneurs in terms of helping the customer.” 

That inspiration, she said, was then the spark during the pandemic to start to let Körber people shine and show what they are doing, and a selection of career pioneers were selected and then celebrated.  

This led to a new sense of unity across the company’s 100 global locations, she says—but the emphasis on authentic stories not glossy PR also won trust with both employees and customers. 

In turn, this led to a new sense of what she calls the new emotionalized Körber organization which is signified by increasing use of the blue heart emoji and coloring. 

“When people share content on LinkedIn, emotional responses and how much they like working for us is part of that and we decided to use the blue heart as our symbol of that, too,” she adds. 

Fanta is happy to accept that this might seem a bit touchy-feely to some. 

Nonetheless, she feels that the note of authenticity and the human really does support the new company-wide aim of supporting people to feel more and more empowered and entrepreneurial. 

Inspiring innovation in every aspect of outreach 

And of course—that includes in her own function.

“Yes, even HR can be entrepreneurial and inspiring and in COVID days, the team came up with a super-crazy idea to do a 24-hour long recruitment event across the globe.” 

This, she said, resulted in sessions on everything from the place for female talent in tech companies and Körber employee works councils to leadership.  

After the marathon, applications shot up by 40%—so while a huge challenge for a firm that doesn’t specialize in conference organization, her team persuaded her it had been so effective they went one step further in 2022 and mounted a 5-day long Körber global online Career Week. 

In her online presentation, Fanta covers a lot more about turning Körber ‘blue,’ including all the content, process and training her team is creating and sharing for the company on leadership principles, as well as the corporation’s work to improve EX via diversity and lifelong learning. 

To get her full insights on these and other important employee experience topics, why not check out Ms Fanta’s full, and excellent, presentation below, you may even like it so much… you give it a blue heart 🙂  

Written by: Eva Mezosi

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