"My Competition is me."

SHE MOVES US Interview with Paola Imoberdorff, Head of CSM & Logistics at PUMA

February 2, 2022

SHE MOVES US Interview with Paola Imoberdorff, Head of CSM & Logistics at PUMA

February 2, 2022

As part of our “She Moves Us” interview series, CATch Up had a chat with Paola Imoberdorff, Head of CSM & Logisticsabout her motivation, her role models and family goals.


Paola loves her job. “I have an amazing team and I usually have more ideas than time to do all the things I want to in a day. Once I start, I don’t want to stop especially when I enjoy what I’m doing”. Paola constantly wants to improve herself and her work. “I want to better myself. My competition is me”. It is important to her to be a better version of herself every day.

“My grandfather told me: ‘Si vas a derecho no te vas a caer’ which would mean something like
“if you keep trying you cannot fail”, she continued, “He told me to never give up and to continue no matter the circumstances”.

Both her grand-parents had a big influence on Paola, her grand-mother especially as an inspiring female figure and a role model. “When I grew up, my father had to work a lot to provide for his three children. We had the good fortune to have my grand-mother’s support”. Paola lost her mother when she was 14 and having her grand-mother around was essential to her as she was the only female figure in the house. “She was the most important role model I have had in my life. She led a hard life”. Paola’s grand-mother was raised in a wealthy but very conservative and traditional family. “She was the real prodigy of the family but decided to leave everything she had for love. She fell in love with my grand-father, a farmer, and decided to live her life on her own terms even though she was only 16”. When she was older Paola’s grand-mother was in an accident that ended with her in a wheelchair. “Still, every time I saw her, she was always singing and very happy”.  She cooked, she washed our clothes, she cleaned the house. She took care of the whole family despite of the circumstances. “Today when I’m sad, or something goes wrong, I remember her and her strength”.

Paola is the first in her family to go to university. “My family is proud of me. They are not academic people. For them, seeing me in this position is a big deal”.

When Paola was a teenager, her favorite thing to do was to go to the bookshop and read business magazines. She wanted to be a business woman from the moment she opened the first pages of those type of readings. “I really wanted to belong within a business company and today that’s exactly where I am and I’m very grateful for it”.

Paola started to work for PUMA when she was around 23 years old. She was still at university when she began her career inside the company. “I had to work if I wanted to pay for the program, renting out a place and eat. I ended up at PUMA thanks to a friend”. One of the other students needed an assistant for the job she was doing. She asked Paola if she felt like applying for the job, “which of course I did straight away”. Until then, Paola was working as a salesperson in a small shop around town. “For me, this new position would have been an upgrade”.

She isn’t sure what could be next for her.

“I’m definitely willing to help my team for us to get better at what we do, together. I think I probably don’t know what is next because I’m presently living my dream life. I would have to think about a new dream now that I achieved this one”.

When it comes to dreams, Paola likes to tell her team, especially the women: “When you do something do it with love and confidence. If someone tells you that you aren’t enough remember that what they think is their own and not for you to believe, agree or accept. If you have a dream you go for it. No matter what’s happening in your life, always believe in yourself. You keep chasing after what you want”. She says that that’s how she sees life.

At her job, she’s confident about her team and the work they deliver. “I try to give them as much freedom as possible to do things their way. I want them to enjoy what they do”. What Paola wants is for them to help her find solutions to what she has to deal with. “We try to resolve the problems that might occur together. If one of us makes a mistake, it’s important that I can rely on my team members to tell me about it so we can fix it right away and move forward in the right direction. It’s all about trust and communication for me”.

In Paola’s opinion the workplace shouldn’t be a gender issue area. “I had good bosses, women and men. We are all different”. Everyone does business differently, she says.

Paola thinks some people are good are negotiating and some are not but she believes it has nothing to do with the gender of the person. Moreover, she feels people can learn all those skills even if they’re not instinctively good at it. “You can learn to be good at it, you can practice and improve yourself”.

Only few women work in logistics like Paola and she considers it a real pity. She has asked her supplier to hire more women. “Reaching the position of head of the department I’m in, I feel the responsibility of breaking patterns and making a difference”.

Paola was always surrounded by men:

“I was raised by my dad with my two brothers and today I have a husband and a son”. She feels it is probably why she doesn’t feel uncomfortable about being the only woman in the room “even though I don’t find it to be right”.

Paola never felt self-conscious about the fact that she was a woman in her field of work until she had to justify herself to one of her suppliers. “The head of this company we were collaborating with was surprised at seeing a woman in this kind of job and also head of the department. I didn’t ask him why he was surprised, not only about my gender but also my young age, apparently. I froze after him making a comment on both. I had never thought of my gender being an issue at work”.

Nevertheless, Paola never felt unsure about her career. “A couple of years ago, I even had the desire to move from logistics to commercial department”. She started knocking on doors and asked what the possibilities were. Eventually the head of retail left for Australia and the person that took over, a woman, offered Paola a new opportunity in Retail planning.  “In the beginning it was very difficult, I had a lot to learn on the spot. Our team was much bigger and I had to be in contact with people in other countries. On top of that it was the beginning of the pandemic. Not knowing your team and having to talk with them online was a real hassle but I survived it and I am still here. I think most women question their capabilities and wonder why they would be the one chosen to fit an important position. I for sure was one of them, I felt uncomfortable somehow with achieving all of this even though it was what I wanted from the start. Men go for it and rarely seem to question their own potential. I think career-wise we can be more insecure about ourselves than them”.

It’s also definitely challenging sometimes for Paola having to combine motherhood, work, her own social life… “I’m grateful to my family, my friends like my English teacher to help me stay grounded whenever I get overwhelmed with life. My husband is also the best, he takes such good care of the three of us and we treat each other like equals at all times”.

Paola is not someone who separates her private life from her job. “I have one life and I make everything fit in it the best way I can. Until now I think I managed it pretty well”. She prefers a long  mid-day break to have lunch with her three year old son than to finish work early and not be able to spend time with her little one because he would already be asleep. “I don’t mind working late or during the weekend if it gives me the chance to spend more time with my family. I love my job, I don’t see as a burden to work at other moments of the day than regular working hours. Of course, if my job needs me or if I have a meeting, I make sure to be there too”. This flexibility is mostly possible as Paola works from home due to the pandemic, otherwise she would be working from the office and have regular office hours. The advice Paola would like to give to anyone who would like to follow her footsteps is to know that the beginning might be hard and therefore,

“I would tell others not to be too hard on themselves and to start believing in their skills and instincts. Sometimes we have to congratulate ourselves more instead of waiting for someone else to compliment us. We all need a pad on the shoulder, someone telling us that we are doing well. We can be the one to reassure ourselves that we are great. It’s difficult but we shouldn’t wait for external approval. For sure our good work and commitment will show. Believe in yourself, always”.

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