“I want to get out of here“ („Ich will hier raus“) is a song by the German band Extrabreit. “I want to get in there!” thought consultant Annette Crowther when she was standing outside the Commha Consulting office in 2012, waiting for her interview. And she came to stay an entire decade – at least. A look back – and to the future.
Annette, anyone who knows you is aware that for you, it’s agency all the way. Does Commha take good care of you – or do you feel smothered?
Annette (laughs out loud, as often does, even when the office is buzzing): At Commha, no one mothers anyone. I’ve always liked this about our company. Before, I worked at an agency in Karlsruhe. Everyone there was fully dedicated to our work, but the job offered little variety. What I craved was a job that would really challenge me. And that’s what I found at Communication Harmonists, as we were called until 2016. After all, I was supposed to do no less than take over a major customer from the packaging and process technology industry. Wow, I thought to myself, that’s a lot of responsibility all at once.
So we had you jump into the deep end right away. Haven’t you felt overwhelmed sometimes?
I felt challenged, but confident – and regarded the task as an opportunity, even if it didn’t always feel that way in the first months. I have always been very comfortable supporting this client’s external communications and continue to do so to this day. Thanks to my time in Karlsruhe, I had been able to build an extensive network of trade journalists, which helped me a lot in dealing with this client, my first. That’s what I’ve always liked about Commha: we trust out colleagues, give them a lot of freedom and help them develop their strengths. We encourage them to find out what interests them and build individual areas of expertise. A ”Jack-of-all-trades” – who could still be found around here a few years ago – would no longer be at home with us today; they simply no longer exist.
How did that happen? Did you drive them away?
To some extent, for myself. Personnel topics like recruiting, onboarding and employee development fascinate me just as much as preparations for a trade show – that’s a pretty awesome kind of stress, in my opinion. On the other hand, there are also areas where I really like to draw on the expertise of my colleagues, especially with respect to technical tools or graphic design. But what happened was basically this: I wanted to get involved in human resources and, after a few years, asked the management if that would be possible. And, like so many times during the past decade, I got the refreshingly umcomplicated answer: “Sure, go ahead!”
What attracted you to the task?
I like to question things, and what I even like better is to look for solutions as a team. From my point of view, there was a lot of work to do in terms of personnel and recruiting at that time. We already had the right approach: be close to people, direct, and open. If Leonie, who has also been with us for ten years already, hadn’t been so nice and helped me calm down during my job interview – I would probably still be sitting in a corner of our Poststraße office today, drenched in sweat. I want others to benefit from this instant cameraderie and openness as well, but within the framework of a structured approach that applies to everyone.
Hand on heart: Ten years ago, could you have imagined staying on at Commha for a decade?
To be honest (which she likes to be): no. After my traineeship plus three additional years in Karlsruhe, I was planning to stay at Commha for three or four years as well and then move on. I even considered changing sides and going corporate. Commha made me change my mind: I love juggling topics, I love variety – and yes, at the risk of repeating myself: For me it’s agency all the way. Commha has grown very organically and now offers even more varied tasks and clients. Many things became easier for me over time, but working here has never been boring. So why would I go anywhere else? I’m happy right where I am.
The interview was conducted by our editor Benoît.