The power of bringing our whole selves to work

We explore the value of authenticity in the workplace through the lens of Luana Moura, Product Design Manager of our Payments team.

Zalando Product Design
Zalando Design
Published in
4 min readJun 15, 2022


Luana Moura, Product Design Manager at Zalando

A high-stakes presentation in a former design role in Brazil was Luana Moura’s breakthrough moment. “Everyone was dressed very formally and I had worn a blazer to cover my tattoos,” recalls the Product Design Manager. “It went terribly because I felt like I was hiding who I am. I had zero confidence and forgot most of my presentation. My last chance to prove myself to the client was at the final meeting. I decided that I wanted to be true to myself. I took the risk to present my project with all of my tattoos on show, and it turned out to be one of my best presentations ever. I felt so much more relaxed and genuine. The client was happy and I felt fulfilled.”

Luana’s journey of self-expression gained more fuel when she joined Zalando in 2018 as a Senior Product Designer: “My colleagues really inspired me. There were a lot of designers, and also people from several different disciplines that are traditionally known as more conservative, who were bold in expressing themselves — be that through fashion or their ideas. There are so many different personalities and backgrounds here. Seeing those people being true to themselves made me feel like I could too. It turns out I was right.”

As Luana’s story illuminates, the power of expressing ourselves in the workplace goes much deeper than what we wear. It’s about authenticity; feeling free to remove any filters that distract us from performing at our best, or that hinder our connection with others.

“Bringing our whole selves to work means showing up authentically, leading with humility, and remembering that we’re all vulnerable, imperfect human beings doing the best we can,” Mike Robbins, author of Bring Your Whole Self to Work, tells Forbes. “It’s also about having the courage to take risks, speak up, ask for help, connect with others in a genuine way, and allow ourselves to be truly seen.”

Leading by example

At Zalando, we are committed to building a company in which respect and inclusive behavior are second nature. As our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy states, “Our vision is to be the Starting Point for Fashion that is welcoming to everyone. We strive to be inclusive by design, bringing to life the diversity of our talents, leaders, customers and partners.” This extends to the way we collaborate and approach solutions; diverse perspectives solve complex problems, deepen customer understanding, lead to high-quality decision-making, and ultimately open the door to innovation.

As a people manager, Luana takes special care to make her team feel comfortable in being who they are. “This starts even before hiring,” she explains. “It’s something that’s very important to me. I try to lead by example. I have no fear of presenting my individuality in any way. I feel this attracts people to my team who are looking for a safe space. I also hold sharing workshops with my team where I make it clear that we should think as individuals and bring our personal goals and fears to merge with the team vision. It creates an open and supportive atmosphere where everyone feels heard.”

Creating a safe space

Luana acknowledges the courage and vulnerability it takes to bring original ideas to the table. Though no workspace can be absolutely watertight when it comes to psychological safety, it is essential that we actively work on cultivating an environment of empathy. “I encourage my team to not be afraid to show incomplete work or to make mistakes,” says Luana. “We are all here to support each other and to help each other overcome challenges.”

Psychological safety not only allows us to feel comfortable to take risks or to make mistakes, but it creates more opportunities for open-mindedness, trust, humor and motivation. It fosters emotional intelligence, enabling us to support each other effectively.

Bridging the gap

Luana’s four years at Zalando have brought her professional and personal lives into greater harmony. Rather than feeling like she has to switch between two different identities, her experiences in each sphere positively impact each other, intertwining into her best possible self.

“The first friends I made when I arrived in Berlin were from work. This community is very inspiring and there are so many people to get to know. The fact that Zalando really allowed me to express who I am changed me completely. Before, I would hold back on a lot of things for fear of being judged. Now I’m much bolder in what I say, how I dress, and the activities I engage in. I have become much more artistic, embracing new interests like playing the ukulele, photography, and modeling, while reconnecting with childhood hobbies. My confident smile says it all.”

Do you feel inspired to bring more of yourself to work? Our product design community has multiple open roles.



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