When I began my career with Allianz Trade in 2012, I wouldn’t have predicted that I’d become the head of an HR department.

I earned my Master’s degree in finance and accounting and assumed that I’d be working with numbers for most of my career. However, while I liked my job, I was always eager to take on fresh challenges. Today I’m a human resources (HR) professional, and I’m enjoying handling new topics in a different environment!  

In my first position with Allianz Trade, I handled contracts for export companies in the governmental arm of Allianz, which is specific to Germany. After this, I moved into risk underwriting. I was really enjoying getting to know the ins and outs of the company, and I wanted to learn as much as I could about all the different areas. That’s why, in 2017, I made a strategic decision to move into the project management office for the current restructuring project.

This role gave me exposure to a large, strategic project, expanding my knowledge base and toolkit and giving me visibility into the business’ structure. It also enabled me to collaborate with different teams, including people working in HR – and I realized that I wanted to head in that direction. 

I’d always wanted to manage my own team. Even when I was playing handball as a child, I enjoyed being the team captain and helping others succeed. I have a pragmatic way of approaching problems and I believe that I can motivate people through my optimism. And also, I’ve always had strong supporters who trusted my leadership skills and thought that I could be a manager. My current position as Regional Head of Department of the People Center of Expertise in the DACH countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) feels like a great fit.

I’m not your typical HR manager – it’s not my background and sometimes the knowledge gap has made it tough. Every day I learn something new! However, rather than being a detriment, I think changing roles has helped me become a better manager. Cross-functional moves broaden your experience, extend your network, and bring a different perspective to the job.

My career path has been exciting, and it has given me a more diverse understanding of the company and why certain decisions are made. Because it’s been so beneficial for me, I support my – really great – team to learn and engage with other people’s perspectives. Even if that means that at one day my team’s members take a sidestep in their career. It can be nerve-wracking to make a change and you need patience with yourself, but I encourage a positive mindset with it. My philosophy is, “if you never try, you’ll never know.”

Mobility has advanced my career much faster than if I’d stayed in a single position or department. Of course, it comes with challenges – but where there is a will there is a way. With the willingness, interest and motivation to succeed, everyone can do it.

There are so many opportunities right now within Allianz, which makes it a great time to look into cross-functional mobility. The company has always been supportive when I wanted to explore a new department or position. Being able to move and try new things, to continue learning and keep your brain active is such an asset. I really do see myself at this company for the long term. 

Claudia Gaebel

Regional Head of Department People Center of Expertise DACH

Allianz Trade in DACH