Katharina heads our Project Management department
Katharina leads a team of project managers to realize innovation and change in our network. Her team is creating added value for our customers and banks by delivering projects which focus on customer needs.
What was your Journey to AccessHolding Like?
My very first step into the finance industry was back in the days when the Berlin Wall was still up. I was finishing my apprenticeship in a German commercial bank in Munich when the wall came down. I remember that as soon as my bank started establishing branches in the newly-formed Eastern Federal States I volunteered to be part of it. I ended up working for one year in the very first branch of a western-style bank in the former GDR in the town of Neubrandenburg. This was a unique historical moment and I was excited to be part of it.
After graduating from Business Administrations at Humboldt University Berlin, I wanted to try something new and joined an advertising company in Berlin for three years. I changed industries because I could not imagine myself as a shiny career banker. Instead, I wanted to roll up my sleeves and continue making a difference. Unfortunately, after a while I realized that I was not going to find what I was looking for within the creative industry either.
At that point I did some serious thinking about my next steps. I had to find something combining my financial education with my passion for blank spots on the world map, where I could work as a banker and make a visible positive impact at the same time.
So how did you come across AccessHolding?
It was a coincidence, really. I first heard about LFS (the predecessor company of AccessHolding) through a friend who was working there at the time. It clicked right away for me. I could finally put my financial experience to a good cause, and apply my Russian language skills which I had acquired in the past years.
So how did your story with AccessHolding start?
I joined in 2003 as Senior Banking Advisor and I spent my next two years in Uzbekistan, working with micro entrepreneurs, a young workforce, bank managers, and state organs alike. I enjoyed the bustle of Oriental Bazaars, which seemed right out of the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights, and gaining insights into a variety of businesses. The daily challenges were so huge, the adventures so manifold, my work more hands–on than ever and the outcomes incredibly rewarding. I had the best time of my life.
So how did you end up in HQ office in Berlin as the Head of Project Management?
Well this is a really long story as I am with the company for more than 15 years now. After I had managed a large microfinance project in Tajikistan for two-and-a-half years I took on my first role in the Head Office in Berlin as Investment Officer. I was mainly coordinating the relations with shareholders in our network banks, and preparing new investments and capital increases. Returning from six months of maternity leave, I took on just the next challenge to become CEO of our youngest network bank in Tajikistan. Together with my family we stayed there for four years and experienced unforgettable times.
In 2015, we moved on to Baku, Azerbaijan, where I built up and managed for two years a Project Management Office, which implemented several larger projects in the area of banking technology and efficiency. This role has eventually led me to assuming the lead role for our Project Management Department in AccessHolding’s Head Office.
What made you stay?
The regular change of location, job, and responsibility within the same organization, as I did not have to look for something else to challenge me. The company always made it possible for me to align my work with my private needs and wishes. I experience an exceptionally great internal climate with team-mates and leaders, and working abroad is a huge excitement for me. I am growing professionally and personally with AccessHolding.
How would you describe the working environment in our office?
You will meet cool colleagues with a unique mix of nationalities, languages, backgrounds, and profiles. We are a bunch of likeminded people, who want to get stuff done. We trust each other and share the same values. First and foremost, we want to make the lives of our customers in the great-potential countries better every day.