#143: A Journey From the Factory Floor to the Boardroom

Harald Emberger joined Beiersdorf AG in 2015 as Chief Supply Chain Officer and a member of the Executive Committee. In this role, Harald has overall responsibility for the end-to-end supply chain globally.

Prior to joining Beiersdorf, Harald held a variety of supply chain leadership roles with Unilever and Mars Inc. Harald’s background and experience present a truly global image. Throughout his career, he has lived in five different countries in three world regions.

Listen to the full discussion here:

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 here.



Connect with the Guest:

Harald Emberger: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • Harald’s fascination with factories sparking his interest in supply chain
  • Inflection points in Harald’s career
  • Beiersdorf’s agile supply chain strategy and growth
  • Key skills at board-level for supply chain executives 
  • How Harald achieved 50/50 in terms of diversity in his teams
  • Advice to young professionals

Show notes:

  • [0:54] How did you end up in the supply chain? How did it all start for you and evolve to now being Chief Supply Chain Officer?
  • [2:02] I really enjoyed working in factories and creating products that added value, which came with a sense of responsibility. But what I found most fascinating was people I work with who were also passionate about what they did. I was also fascinated by the way you have to manufacture things.
  • [3:13] What were one or two things, looking back at your career, that you can say, “Okay, this was really an inflection point for me?”
  • [3:53] I would say the first inflection point for me is the responsibility you have in all the decisions you take in the supply chain, whether it’s an investment, whether it’s the way you manage an organization, the risk to take the way you run the business, that very often if things do not go right, you carry a lot of responsibility for the people.
  • [5:52] How did you redesign and open quite a number of factories in terms of your manufacturing footprint during COVID? Of course, without being able to see, how that was? How did you make it happen? What worked and what didn’t work? 
  • [9:21] Fortunately, when COVID happened, we were a bit better prepared to go through some of those challenges during that time, but that was I would say sort of a big correcting factor in the supply chain strategy in the setup.
  • [10:29] Talk to us a little bit more about not necessarily only getting into the theory, but how do you think of a holistic end-to-end and maybe some examples from Beiersdorf, where you had to adjust and how it worked out?
  • [11:06] All capability building is centrum. So we put this into the center, development, or strategy that provides the operations maximum agility at the local level, and whoever is leading that part of the supply chain can call the shots on supply end-to-end.
  • [14:22] How do you make a learning organization because that’s what we’re talking about having that learning instilled in a simulation organization? What did you do at Beiersdorf and how do you constantly upskill talent?
  • [17:19] We build an organization where people can grow in their current location because we are trying not to go through too many towers or series, we try to have a more virtual approach.
  • [19:10] How did you implement the large-scale change in Beiersdorf and what did you do to get people on board and also get them to ultimately change the way they did things?
  • [21:41] When you have a strong organization, they obviously rally that through for you as well. So they help you to have this seat at the table. But I think this was the biggest change to really show the value and the additional sales a supply chain can deliver if they are a competitive edge.
  • [22:17] What do you see as the key soft skills of board-level supply chain executives, what must they focus on to stay at that level?
  • [23:09] How do you explain complex things in meaningful simple words, that’s the first thing. The second thing is which is really important is strong alliances on the board.
  • [26:22] Are there certain things that you’ve done better to achieve this 50/50 and to also keep the women engaged? Where there are certain things that work really well for Beiersdorf in particular?
  • [26:58] I think it’s important that you focus when you recruit on your fair share. It’s important in talent development that you ensure that you have always parity or you give everyone the same chance. 
  • [29:26] Where do you see the biggest opportunity for a career in the supply chain? Let’s say that I’m just graduating and I’m thinking of joining the supply chain, why should I do it? Why is the supply chain a cool place to be for the foreseeable future?
  • [30:38] It’s good fun to join, it’s worth exploring which part you like. There’s a lot you can do in this function and you can do a lot of cross moves as well quality as well. So that’s why I think it’s good when you start, I would recommend as well to see some functions first where you like it, stay there a bit and then have your career that’s the way I look at it.
  • [31:18] What would be one key piece of advice you would give to your younger self or to your kids or the young generation to build a cool career in the corporate environment?
  • [31:45] Always keep your mind fresh, but build some resilience in yourself about where you want to go and where your boundaries are. Enjoy what you’re doing and must be fun, I think.

Quotes from the Episode:

Soundbite from the Episode:


About the Host:

The host, Radu Palamariu is the co-author of “From Source to Sold – Stories of Leadership in Supply Chain”. He has been named one of the top 3 Global Supply Chain Influencers on LinkedIn and was featured in ForbesBloombergWEFBangkok Post, and MIT Supply Chain Talent magazine. Radu invites executives to share stories and perspectives around technology, logistics, e-commerce, supply chain, and manufacturing, and their views on how the future will look.

Alcott Global connects and upgrades the supply chain ecosystem by finding the right talent through executive search, developing talent through learning solutions, and meeting supply chain technology needs through a comprehensive crunch base marketplace.

The supply chain executive search has been our focus since the very beginning, offering recruitment services for top-tier supply chain roles at every level of the end-to-end supply chain: plan, source / procure, make, and deliver. Our consultants have years of experience in placing top talent, in North America, LATAM, Europe, the Middle East & Africa, and APAC, and besides speed, one of our biggest strengths is our network within the supply chain industry, and we capitalize on it to find the best solutions.

Through the years, we have grown as an organization and our offerings with it. One of our initiatives, the learning solutions- training and supply chain academy, is focused on transforming leadership- self-leadership, executive presence, influence capital, and business acumen. Through Supplify, we aim to match corporations with the top technology companies to solve their supply chain and logistics challenges with a focus on innovation and digital transformation.

We are in constant touch with the leaders in supply chain, inviting them to inspire the supply chain professionals in thought-provoking podcast episodes and events, and showcasing what is possible at the yearly Leaders in Supply Chain Awards.

Related Episodes:

#140: Effective Communication: Win Buy-ins and Achieve Goals

#141: Manufacturing Capabilities and Workforce Development

#142: Sustainability and Innovation: Bugaboo’s Supply Chain Story




Get the most appealing jobs in value chains.

"(Required)" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Get the most appealing jobs in technology, supply chain & logistics space.

Scroll to Top


Get the most appealing jobs in technology, supply chain & logistics space.

"(Required)" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.