INVERTO Office Cologne - Moving forward with courage

Simone Sofia Hilbring has been Managing Director in our Cologne office since the beginning of July. The retail expert has already been with INVERTO for ten years. She leads our Women@INVERTO initiative, with which we want to empower women in consulting.

Can you briefly describe your background?

I studied in the Netherlands and Canada and have a degree in International Business from Maastricht University. In 2013 I joined INVERTO as an intern and now, after ten years with great career development, I am enjoying my new role as Managing Director.

Ten years is a long time – What made you stay loyal to us for so long?

INVERTO has a credible identity and a family-like character. Our corporate values were always tangible for me and all doors were open. I have always had very trustworthy contact persons and the opportunity to promote new topics. I am convinced that this culture has made a decisive contribution to my being in this position today. In terms of my professional development, I am incredibly grateful for the fact that I was able to work very independently from the very beginning and gain a lot of experience in an international context. The learning curve at INVERTO is really steep and I have learned more with each project. In this way, I was able to grow together through and with my teams and my clients.

In relation to your clients, what is particularly important to you? What topics do you want to drive forward in your role?

My heart beats for the retail and consumer goods industry. I have been responsible for many exciting projects, for example in the areas of transformation, turnaround or cost-out. Currently, lots of companies in the industry are under enormous pressure. The current situation holds many opportunities, but also risks if the course is not set accordingly in the corporate strategy. With the profound market intelligence, experience and methodology that INVERTO brings to its clients, I would like to help them to set this course, implement it and thus master their transformation and develop resilient and more profitable business models.

You co-founded our Women@INVERTO initiative and have already received an award for it. What is behind the initiative?

It is my deep conviction that women in our industry and diverse teams as a whole lead to better performance in the company. It also benefits our clients when we look at their challenges from different angles. And it is also about manifesting this self-image that women belong in consulting just as
much as men, especially at the management levels. In my day-to-day work, however, I see that people often still think in traditional structures. This is unintentional, but if you want to bring women into management, a real and conscious change is necessary. You can’t run companies the way you have for the last 20 years and at the same time wish for change. It is about having the courage to be more progressive and try new things. To create awareness for this and to develop concrete measures for INVERTO and set an example for the industry, we have created Women@INVERTO.

What does that mean in concrete terms? How do you manage to promote opportunities and equal treatment within the framework of the initiative?

We have already achieved a lot through the initiative. We have implemented recruiting targets concerning female share and our mentorship program has closely united our female talent across all ranks with members of our senior leadership. Feedback from our community is vital
for us in order to continuously improve both our programs and their implementation. For this reason, we established a strong network to promote discussions on all topics and at all levels. Our part-time models that were successfully introduced some time ago are an example of this, creating more flexibility for parents in particular to combine career and family. Since the launch of the initiative, we have also seen our proportion of women growing steadily. This shows us that the measures we have taken are having an impact on female colleagues and applicants, and we are very pleased about this.

What is your ‘future vision’ for women in the consulting industry?

My vision is that the presence of women at management levels within consultancies is as commonplace as it currently is for men today. It is absolutely necessary that consultancies become even more progressive and that management teams are aware of their own responsibility. This starts with the values and mind-set and the questioning of the status quo, only then can concretely defined measures, such as  flexible working hours, mentoring programs, bear fruit in implementation.

How do you manage to take a break from your job in your everyday life?

I love being at the stables in the morning before work and going for a ride in the woods before the day starts, otherwise long runs with a podcast in my ear and time with friends and family. I’ve also recently become a godmother and really enjoy that role.


Icon - On a trip to Cologne, what should definitely be on our “bucket list”?

On a trip to Cologne, what should definitely be on our “bucket list”?

A sunny day in Cologne’s South Town! A late breakfast at Cafe Walter, walk to the Poller Wiesen and enjoy the midday sun there. In the afternoon, a coffee at Cafe Ernst or Hubert and a little “Veedel”-shopping. For the evening I can recommend a lovely French restaurant, Epicerie Boucherie, and for a sundowner head to the small wine truck “Wein im Veedel” on the Rhine at the Südbrücke!

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