Susanne Giese: From Stadtsparkasse Chemnitz to Ghana

Susanne Giese began her career in 1991 at Stadtsparkasse Chemnitz and has been working with German Sparkassenstiftung in various assignments for 22 years. Since January 2020, she has been heading a major project of German Sparkassenstiftung in Ghana supported by the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

1. In which institution of the Sparkassen Finance Group did you start your career and what brought you to the Sparkasse?

I started as a marketing manager at Stadtsparkasse Chemnitz in July 1991. In the new German federal states Sparkassen previously had a virtual monopoly. In the GDR (German Democratic Republic) all private customers were obliged to keep their account with a Sparkasse. Therefore, there was no need for marketing until reunification. The battle therefore ensued with the new competitors, who tried to take market share and the most attractive customers away from the Sparkassen. The task was very appealing, because marketing and customer orientation had to be newly introduced (the word "customer" was a kind of swear word at that time - not just in the Sparkasse). For me as a marketing manager, there was a high degree of creative freedom, of course, combined with the corresponding responsibility, which I found very appealing. Working for a financial institution was practically in my genes, as my parents are both bankers and had met at a Volksbank (cooperative bank).

2. How long did you work for this institution? Please describe your Sparkassen-career briefly.

In 1993, Stadtsparkasse Chemnitz merged with Kreissparkasse Chemnitz to form Sparkasse Chemnitz. I had the wonderful task of leading the campaign for the merger and working on the merger team that managed the entire transition. In 1994, I then moved to the Mittelbrandenburgische Sparkasse in Potsdam as deputy marketing manager. In 1995, I started as a management consultant at the Sparkassen Association Baden-Württemberg (SVBW) in Stuttgart. My task was to advise the Sparkassen in Wuerttemberg (and after the merger also the Sparkassen in Baden). The main topic for Sparkassen was the restructuring of the entire sales organization and the conversion from regional organization to customer group orientation. In 2000, German Sparkassenstiftung sent me on two short-term assignments to Uganda and Bulgaria. After that, it was clear to me that I wanted to go to Africa for a longer period of time. I stayed with the SVBW until 2001, when I was given leave to work with the German Development Service (Deutscher Entwicklungs Dienst - DED) for three years in Burkina Faso. Afterwards I returned to the SVBW again.

3. When did you start your career at German Sparkassenstiftung and what motivated you to work in international cooperation?

After working for the then German Development Service or Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in Ghana for five years, I frequently worked for the German Sparkassenstiftung as a short-term expert from Zambia starting in 2014. Mainly, I trained trainers for the Business Games and was also involved in the further development of the Business Games. This took me to several African and Asian countries in addition to Zambia. Since January 2020, I have now been working from Ghana to manage what is currently German Sparkassenstiftung's largest commissioned project on behalf of GIZ. The aim here is to help people from Ghana and The Gambia who have returned to their home countries after migration experiences to regain their economic footing. What motivates me is a mixture of desiring to learn about the world and the people who live in it, as well as to engage with them, and to work together to change things for the better. German Sparkassenstiftung allows me to combine these, while remaining connected to my professional experience that I can bring to the work.

4. Welche Erfahrung haben Sie aus der Arbeit bei Ihrer Sparkasse oder Sparkasseninstitution mit in Ihre Projektregion genommen?

I spent ten years advising the Sparkassen organized in the regional Sparkassen and Giro Association of Baden-Württemberg. These experiences from large and small change projects were and are very helpful in my work for German Sparkassenstiftung. Because my work now is also about winning people over to change, developing solution together and thinking through decisions well - and then implementing these decisions. Which usually is the hardest part. An understanding of change management and how people deal with change helps, as does good training in communication. Basic banking knowledge, an understanding of marketing and the methodical diversity needed to shape our joint work are, of course, also important skills that I brought with me from my work at the Sparkassen and the Sparkassen Association.

You can learn more about our projects in Ghana here.

Deutsche Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation e.V.
Simrockstraße 4, 53113 Bonn

Fon: +49 228 9703-0
Fax: +49 228 9703-6613 o -6630

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