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Women In Wellness: Dorit Schindler Of SIGNA Sports United On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

I personally would like to bring more positivity to the world. Focus more on the good than the bad. Focus more on strengths rather than weaknesses yet acknowledging areas which are important to develop.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dorit Schindler.

Dorit Schindler is the German born Chief People Officer at global sports and ecommerce platform, SIGNA Sports United. The company is on a fascinating journey of growth while getting more people active and digitizing the sports ecosystem. Dorit is a firm believer in the power of people — once they’re engaged, appreciated and enabled to bring their true selves to the workplace.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I have been intrigued by what makes people, and in particular teams, successful from an early age. The question of why one group or company is more successful than the next is the million-dollar question.

I studied industrial psychology, economics, and organizational design to get started in my quest to find the answer. My entire career has been as a Talent and People professional and I am as passionate about it today as I was on day one, even more so in fact. I try to keep learning and throughout my career I have taken part in several in-depth coaching and systemic organization and change management seminars and courses. But life and job experience in various industries (automotive, retail and e-commerce) in international companies — larger corporations and smaller family-owned businesses — taught me more than any course or book have.

My experience has been wide ranging. Building companies, managing crisis, more difficult tasks from an emotional perspective like scaling down companies and closing down facilities. And now -after more than 20 years in Human Resources- I have found my dream job at SIGNA Sports United (SSU), a global sports and ecommerce company where I can combine my passion for people in a hyper-growth environment with my passion for an active lifestyle. SSU is firmly in growth mode, so far this year, we have entered the US market with the acquisitions of Tennis Express and Midwest sports, two of the largest tennis platforms in the US, we have acquired WiggleCRC, a global bike retailer, thus creating the biggest online bike retailer in the world and to top it all off, we’ve just become a public company by listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

The most interesting story is happening today. I joined SSU just over 6 months and it has been extraordinary! I am part of an energetic and passionate management team during the most exciting time of our careers. Preparing the company for its IPO, the acquisition of WiggleCRC as well as integrating new companies, so the People function is critical, and I am enjoying every moment.

One of my most recent responsibilities has been preparing internal communications and ensuring our 3000 employees participate and feel part of this momentous occasion. And we’re a small team right now so it’s all hands-on deck! My experience has given me the tools and confidence to accomplish this task and I remind myself to take a step back now and then and drink it all in. It’s really a once in a lifetime experience and one I want to ensure our employees are completely a part of it.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I’m not sure if this was my biggest mistake but having been the only women in management teams was a bit of a challenge earlier on in my career. 15 years ago (gender) diversity was not on the agenda. I regularly found myself amongst teams of white, conservative, older male colleagues, and as the young, creative, and progressive women, it was an interesting dynamic. At the beginning I tried to adapt so I could fit in, but it was a lot of pressure and took up a lot of time and energy. I look back and think I should have found an environment sooner where I could be who I really am and be comfortable bringing my true self to work every day.

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

At SIGNA Sports United we all share a real passion for sport, for getting outdoors into nature, for cycling, hiking, playing tennis and/or team sports and for the environment. We’re very proudly a climate neutral company and we work hard every day looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint even more. We’re also passionate about technology and using tech to improve the sports ecosytem.

And we share this passion with our customers. The goods we provide are selected, presented, packed and shipped by colleagues who love the products as much as our customers do. Our products enable people to live a more active lifestyle. We get more people on bikes than anyone else, which is both good for the person and the environment. We are helping change the mobility mix by bringing bikes to more people. Another example is tennis, 4 million more people in the US play tennis than pre-pandemic. We are excited to be a part of that and want to continue pushing that growth.

My own impact includes finding, hiring and developing dedicated experts who really know their stuff and can provide a superb customer experience.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

  • As a professional in People Development, I focus on wellbeing at the workplace in the first instance. But there are -for sure- many more factors regarding wellbeing: your family, your friends, your physical health, the culture, the place you live etc.
  • Focusing on the workplace and your career these five factors are essential. Firstly, find a job where your strengths are really suited to the role, secondly find an employer who sees the value in healthy, happy employees, (in fact, come work at SIGNA Sports United — we’re hiring!), thirdly get enough sleep, sleep is most the underrated physical and mental health benefit. Fourth is to eat as healthily as you can, to nourish your body is to nourish your soul and finally spend as much time as possible outdoors. We are not built to sit at a desk indoors all day. Find a way to get outside and see the sky, breath in fresh air and take a moment. You’ll be a happier person and a more productive one too.
  • Self-Awareness: Your strength matters. As a certified Gallup Strength Finder Coach, I know that people are more successful and happier in general when they not only love what they do, but when they can apply their natural talents to their work and find an environment where this is appreciated. This sounds easy. But for those who are not really aware of their strengths, then it’s a challenge. In school and in the early years of our careers, we often receive feedback highlighting what we are not good at and what areas we should try to “fix.” But, if we focus on our strengths, apply them mindfully and nurture them, we can be our true selves, let our unique talents shine and manage our undeveloped talents with less effort.
  • Team Spirit: Finding a workplace where leaders and colleagues appreciate your strengths seems to be challenging. I tell candidates I am interviewing to be as authentic as possible and tell me areas they are passionate about. This is how we build diverse teams. Staffing a team with diverse profiles is key for long-term success. It’s the same as in teamsports. You need players with different strengths to win the match. In the workplace it is more about diversity of thought and true inclusion which enables teams to win.
  • Take care of your body: Again, sleep enough, eat healthy and get fresh air. This sounds so basic. But yet it is not. The pandemic has placed so much stress on people — both families and individuals. Spending countless hours in front of the computer staring at a little camera to chat with teammates has put a lot of burden on our bodies and brains. Try to be very disciplined with your sleeping rhythm and not to compromise on that. Consider what you eat. In Germany we do have a saying “Du bist, was Du isst” — which basically means that your body consists of what you have given to it. And finally continue or start an active lifestyle! Fresh air, being out in nature, move. At least once a day.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I believe that wellness is about physical and mental well-being. “My movement” is to tackle both.

Firstly, I personally would like to bring more positivity to the world. Focus more on the good than the bad. Focus more on strengths rather than weaknesses yet acknowledging areas which are important to develop.

Secondly, we at SIGNA Sports United we have already started a movement! And I am proud every day to be part of it! We are enabling more people to have a more active lifestyle. For example, we recently created an App “hello sports” that rewards the customer for all of their tracked activity with credits that they can redeem for sports goods and equipment.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Don’t be so hard on yourself
  2. Find an environment where you can work on something with a purpose
  3. Choose your boss and your company wisely
  4. Surround yourself with people who have complementary strengths. Build diverse teams and be very inclusive
  5. Dare to be who you are and never stop learning

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Personally, sustainability and mental health are dearest to me. At SIGNA Sports United we care deeply about both. Firstly I am proud that our products enable a more active lifestyle and with that being part of the larger mobility change in the world enabling many more people to choose a bike over a car. In addition, as I mentioned we are proud to be certified carbon neutral and we are working relentlessly to further improve our carbon footprint, reduce return rate through better sizing advice (e.g. using AI when configuring your bike or tennis shoes online) and ensuring we have a fair and engaging workplace.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

You can follow us on our website https://signa-sportsunited.com/, which is currently evolving, as well as on linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/company/signa-sports-united/. If you are interested in working with us please check out our careers website https://career.signa-sportsunited.com/

The answer to the million-dollar question, by the way, is People!

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

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