Tatjana Preyer

Assistant to President


Being executive assistant encompasses much more then you might think

My Konica Minolta adventure started three years ago. I chose to work for Konica Minolta as it is a well-established mid-size company with headquarters around the globe. I am a single mum to two children, and I work full time at the headquarters in Langenhagen. I consider my role as assistant to President for the Germany and Austria offices as a partnership. You need to see the world and business with the eyes, brain, and heart of the person you support. Doing this gives you insight and the right guidance to prepare and make decisions on your own.
I started my career as a travel agent before deciding to acquire a university degree in economics.  For more than 20 years, I had several leading positions in sales and service, but then the day came, when I decided to step away from a management position. When you lead people, you have another focus — setting goals, delegating tasks, and working on KPIs. In the end, it was too stressful, and I lost enthusiasm and almost lost myself. I realised I prefer to lead by being a role model and driving change.  Making this decision did not mean that I wasn’t looking for a job with responsibility and many different and interesting facets. As the executive assistant for Konica Minolta Germany and Austria, I am not only managing agendas and planning meetings, but am also working on projects, and gaining insight into many different roles and positions. I can manage people in a different way -by driving their enthusiasm for change and reaching goals through what I do.
 I love project management. Why? Projects have a beginning and end with a focus, goals, milestones, and guidelines, defining them from A to Z and bringing people along with me. Working in a team is crucial for me; but I also need a degree of freedom, without being questioned about everything I do. I cherish my role at Konica Minolta because it gives me this freedom. This is the way I function best. Give me some goals and a framework and let me get on with it!
I had only been at the company for four months when Covid hit. It was a challenging start, with almost everyone being refrained to home office. Most companies enabled their employees to work from home throughout the Corona pandemic, but with the restrictions being cancelled, many companies now want people back in the office. At Konica Minolta, however, we took the opportunity to implement mobile working, which supports my situation as a mother and makes the challenge of combining work and family much easier. It's why I have a much better work-life balance than before.

A positive attitude and respect for the work-life balance

At Konica Minolta I find the working climate and collaboration very positive, even when we face challenges. It's a friendly, open-minded culture, and everyone feels appreciated. Compared with companies I have worked at before, Konica Minolta is the best I've experienced: the corporate culture, the collaborative approach, the freedom that comes with mobile working, the opportunity for a better work-life balance. Ever since becoming a mother, I've found it difficult to balance my working and private lives. It used to be a stressful and painful experience. I even lost two jobs because of being a parent. Having a way of bringing everything together and coordinate it is unique. Since being with Konica Minolta, I have been able to manage work and family for the first time in my life. I can go to doctors' appointments and am not stressed out when my child is unwell and at home. The President expects me to fulfil my goals but gives me freedom about how and where I do the work.
quotation marks

“Since being with Konica Minolta, I have been able to manage work and family together for the first time in my life.”

Tatjana Preyer

Assistant to President Konica Minolta Germany and Austria

Gender shouldn't matter

The assistant role is typically seen as a woman's job. I don't know why, though, because it is a very interesting role for anyone. You need lots of different skills and a strong backbone because you'll face many issues as people tend to expect a lot from you. The assistant role is much underestimated with a lot of bias hanging over from the past. Assistants are no longer secretaries who just write emails and organise meetings and minutes. Today, it's a much more complex job that has nothing to do with assumed typical gender capabilities.  Without us, I doubt that the various areas of the business would run as smoothly as they do! I' am accepted and appreciated for who I am and what I do regardless of my gender. I notice that some business units are really aiming to support, hire and promote women into management and leadership positions. I also see units that are more traditional, where there's surely room for improvement. We could, for example, run more female focussed mentoring programs or propose different development programs (for example IT) for women. We still need to maintain priority on diversity. We have only 18% of leadership positions held by women and 30% women overall.  We're make progress but still have a way to go.

My role has evolved in a good way

My role has evolved considerably from the initial understanding of what the assistant to President should do. I wanted to go into project management and to have a role in the management team, both of which I now have.  I have really grown into my role and have had many opportunities over the past three years. I've learned all the skills I need and develop new ones through on-the-job training. Training outside the job is also important, as it brings elements that help us step out of our routines and our comfort zones.
This is accompanied by our performance management tool where goals and tasks are defined together. We review them twice a year to see how the target achievements are developing. Beyond this formalised process, I know that the President is ready to listen and support me at any time.
I am also very aware of the overall goals of the company. In Germany and Austria our vision is “Mehrwert durch Daten” (added value through data). We know, this will not change overnight. We're in the process of combining our everyday business with a more digitalised way of working — transforming into an IT solutions provider.  This requires everyone to get on board and support us with their patience, understanding and personal responsibility.
I think my job has a lot of impact. I've been able to build a great network and am a fully accepted member of the first-line management. My colleagues care about what I say, think and experience. In my three years at Konica Minolta, I've successfully managed several major projects, such as the new occupational health and safety environment and structure in Germany and Austria based on current regulations being part of the change is how I understand myself.

The way we work has changed

One thing that I'd like to point out is when the Corona Pandemic started in 2020 and we were obliged to work from home almost overnight, it was amazing how fast everything was set up. Sending almost 2,000 people home to work and providing them with the digital environment to make it possible — that was impressive! Adapting to a digital way of working became the priority to make the change manageable. Another big challenge was keeping our service technicians on the road including daily testing. Remote Service became one of the key changes during that time. Organizing ourselves in a digital world wasn't entirely straightforward. We really had to change our way of thinking and are still in the process.
quotation marks

“When the Corona Pandemic started in 2020 and we were obliged to work from home almost overnight, it was amazing how fast everything was set up. Sending almost 2,000 people home to work and providing them with the digital environment to make it possible — that was impressive! “

Tatjana Preyer

Assistant to President Konica Minolta Germany and Austria

Digitalization also sharpened our focus on software-based communication and collaboration. With the decision to move from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams as our centralised collaboration tool, I managed, with a small group of colleagues the Teams implementation projects for Germany, Austria and the European headquarter. 
I am also now in the operational lead of our “New Way of Work” project at our headquarters in Langenhagen. A project that changes the way we define work in the “new normal” after the Corona pandemic including our mobile working concept. This is one of the biggest responsibilities and challenges I have experienced since being with Konica Minolta. Involving different stakeholders, interest groups and employees is a combination of a little bit of political skills, being at the right place at the right time, sometimes making unpopular decisions but always inspiring people to adapt to this new working environment.

Three key things: a flexible mindset, networking, and communication

In my position, a flexible mindset is very important; and I take an agile approach to almost everything I do. When I start a project, I set goals and milestones, and I know that eventually we have to get there. As I work with different teams, I listen to my colleagues and integrate their input into the steps that need to be taken. I also need to be flexible in the way I assist the President every day — managing his agenda, for example. I've learned to adapt and become calmer and more resilient in an environment where change and innovation are constant.
To me, being innovative means challenging how we do things — sometimes just changing our approach or rethinking what we've done in the past. Innovation isn't always about invention: it can be about changing things in our daily routine. At times we simply communicate modest ideas or make minor suggestions within the management team then wait and   see what develops. Sometimes innovation is evolution. You can’t innovate every day, but you can evolve every day.
Inevitably, some colleagues don't have a mindset that welcomes change. Some people prefer to stay where they are — perhaps because they're overwhelmed by the challenges or afraid of the uncertainty that comes with change. We've been talking about digital transformation for two years now, and a lot still has to happen, so we are much under pressure. The market environment changes rapidly and we need to keep pace. However, sometimes we are too reluctant and want to have everything planned out. We should take the steps and really get into execution. We do not need to be perfect before starting to walk. We need to be braver.
Communicating and networking are essential. Together with the business unit managers, we have weekly meetings, monthly reviews and quarterly management meetings — which help me to keep discussions going and stay up to date with what's happening across the company. In my role this is not only refrained to Germany and Austria. Much more I have to think and communicate globally and within different cultures.  Of course, to make use of input, you must be selective and set priorities. You need answers to questions like: Where do we need to go? What's my role in this? What can I contribute?

Communication must go in both directions: you provide information and status updates, and in return you get feedback from colleagues and partners. Both formal and informal communication and dialogue are crucial for the positive evolution of a project. Since I have been with Konica Minolta, I have always received great support. Sometimes it's difficult to get things done within a certain timeframe, but “staying in touch” and keeping up an open and honest communication have always supported me in “getting there”. The corporate culture at Konica Minolta is one of the best I have ever experienced.
quotation marks

” Since I have been with Konica Minolta, I've always received great support. The corporate culture at Konica Minolta is one of the best I have ever experienced.”

Tatjana Preyer

Assistant to President Konica Minolta Germany and Austria

Konica Minolta: where opportunities abound

Like many other companies, we face challenges as we adapt to the new way of working. But Konica Minolta is the company of opportunities. If you are willing to take risks and chances and show personal responsibility, it will give you the freedom to create your own role. It is a company that allows you to enjoy a good work-life balance. I have rarely experienced this level of collaboration and willingness to work together. The working environment is exceptional.