"Mental health starts with dealing with everyday situations and whiles some cope well with these situations, others, unfortunately, cannot. This is why I consider myself a mental health advocate to ensure that all employees at ELEMENT receive the best support to help them succeed at what they do."
At ELEMENT, we are committed to making insurance 100% digital with our holistic combination of modern technology and a smart approach to data. Our “Eye on ELEMENT” series dives into the amazing people dedicated to making this a reality. We aim to explore what they do, their passion and what drives them to succeed.
In this edition, our guest is Katja who is an Executive Assistant in our Executive Office.
Hello Katja! Tell us what you do at ELEMENT
My role as the Executive Assistant includes but is not limited to supporting and relieving our board member Eric Schuh, coordinating his appointments and travels, watching his back, and keeping an eye on everything for him. As my role is stationed in the Nuremberg office, I am responsible for office management; ensuring the smooth operations of the office and travel management, so that the Nuremberg team can concentrate fully on their tasks and projects. In the last few months, I have been given another side project that I am incredibly happy about which is championing Mental Health @ ELEMENT.
You have been at ELEMENT for a few years, how has your career progression been like and are there key achievements you're most proud of?
My role has seen some changes with the growth at ELEMENT, a change in supervisor and the onset of covid. There are now many more appointments to coordinate, with more (potential) partners and colleague's ad we are on the road internationally at events, congresses, and meeting clients. Eric is a boss who likes to talk to all employees, and this usually fills up his calendar. Some days I sit in front of it and play Tetris to fit all the appointments in while trying to and still give him some breathing space. It is a bit tricky sometimes.
Eric was also the one who entrusted me with the topic of Mental Health. For me, it's a real topic of the heart that no one can avoid. This is because mental health starts with dealing with everyday situations. How do I keep calm even though the morning rush hour stresses me out? How do I deal with the colleagues when we have a breakdown in communication? How do I quickly fall asleep again when my children have woken me up at night? Everyone knows such situations; some people cope well and others not. In the last year, I have experienced cases in my circle of family and friends in which stress has become their undoing, sometimes leading to life-threatening situations. That worries me a lot. And that is why I consider myself a mental health advocate to ensure that all employees at ELEMENT receive the best support
So, it's great that ELEMENT is committed to this and that I have been given the opportunity to make a difference here. To excel in this new role, I am currently being trained as a stress and mental coach so that I can be actively involved in this area long term and continue to provide new impulses in the area of mental health.
What skills/traits have helped you succeed in your personal and professional development
Before I started at ELEMENT, I worked in the event sector for over 15 years. So, planning and organizing is in my blood.
What is important to me, both professionally and privately, is friendliness, humor, and belief in myself. I think these traits have always helped me to get ahead. Humor can take the edge off some situations, and I believe friendliness is more important than ever in today's world. When I look around how hurtful and degrading people sometimes communicate with each other in the world, I just shake my head. I believe my colleagues appreciate how I approach conversations with care, humor, and friendliness, but of course you’d have to ask them, but the most important thing to me is to believe in myself. Knowing what I can do and who I am. Of course, there are also situations in which I am insecure or nervous, but then, as silly as it sounds, the “Superhero Pose” helps me. 😊
As one of the mental health champions at ELEMENT, what initiatives are you most proud about?
Nice question, because just yesterday I had a celebratory glass of prosecco in the evening, as the collaboration between ELEMENT and Nilo.Health was officially launched and introduced to our colleagues. In addition to classic elements such as mediation programs, breathing exercises or training on topics such as healthy sleep, resilience, or stress management, Nilo offers personal conversations with psychological experts. Talking about problems or worries helps immensely and is the be-all and end-all, because an open ear or impulses from outside can be extremely helpful.
Finally, Nilo Health is off up and running and I'm incredibly happy and proud to have gotten it off the ground. I’m working with David and Aurora in our People and Organization team on scheduled internal activations and I’m optimistic that my colleagues will make use of this initiative as I believe there is something here that can help everyone.
Which of our values resonate with you and why?
One: We celebrate and support each other.
In Franconia, where I live, there is a saying: Nothing said is praise enough. Those who know Franconian’s know how to categorize this, but I believe this saying is terrible. We always tend to focus more on the mistakes and failures than on what went well or was achieved. Everyone is happy about praise and positive feedback, and no one has ever broken a bone by encouraging someone else. At ELEMENT, we also use this value of celebrating and supporting one another internally, whether as direct feedback in meetings or via the company-wide chat that everyone reads. In my eyes, this is a wonderful thing and is part of the mutual support. I like to be a team player and welcome support and encouragement. In return, I also offer help, give feedback or a smile back. That's what makes a good team for me and that's what I have here at ELEMENT.
As always, we would like to thank Katja for taking her time to answer questions and give us the scoop on her personal and professional life. Katjas continued hard work at ELEMENT has been significant in helping us shape the future of insurance.
We are always looking for talented people to join our team and grow with us. Head on over to our careers page to check out what new positions we are hiring for.
This interview was conducted by