Leadership Development - Wiebke Rowedda

People only see learning as a real benefit if they can take something out of the training and apply it on the job.

Wiebke Rowedda

In this edition of our new Leadership Development Interview Series, we sat down with Wiebke Rowedda, HR Director at LVMH, the conglomerate behind many (if not most!) of the world’s most renowned luxury brands. Wiebke shared with us her insights on how to develop talent, with a particular focus on the importance of learning that can truly be put into action.

Wiebke, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your current role?

Our team at LVMH is responsible for Moet Hennessy, so anything to do with wines & spirits. I’m HR Director for four markets –  the DACH region (Germany, Austria, & Switzerland), and Turkey. Overall, there are about 300 people that our team is in charge of. We have a small HR team, based mostly in Munich, but we also have two people in Switzerland and one in Austria.

My main focus is on talent development. I make sure that everybody sits in the right position and reaches their next level. We have quite a few topics that we’re focused on, like well-being, digitalization, and social media. So each of us in the team has a little focus area. 

On top of talent development, I’m also responsible for the salaries, rewards,  and recognition programs. 

What are the current top 1-2 pain points when it comes to people, culture and teams?

The primary challenge is recruiting the right people with suitable mindsets and salary expectations, although we’ve seen some improvements. Another significant aspect is ensuring we have an effective training plan. While we offer numerous trainings, it’s crucial to ensure that employees take these seriously and truly benefit from them, rather than merely completing them as a formality. Additionally, we’re focusing on making our HR processes more efficient to allocate more quality time to people development and organizational design, rather than just handling contracts and paperwork.

Why is this an issue, you think?

I don’t know exactly. It might be due to workload; many people don’t see training as beneficial for job efficiency. There’s also a lack of focus on individual development plans. Previously, training requests were somewhat random, but now we require employees to create a plan and justify their training needs. If the rationale is sound, we approve it.

What does leadership mean to you, and which skills do people need to succeed as a leader?

For me, there’s a difference between a manager and a true leader. A good leader inspires and is always a step ahead in vision and planning, and can motivate a team. Currently, many are proficient at completing their tasks but often there is not enough time to  to take the next step.

What does leadership development look like at your company? Which tools and programs do you have in place, and how do you currently select new leadership talent to develop?

Unfortunately, we do not have so many programs in place yet.

We’re in the early stages of defining a leadership framework to identify key competencies for leaders. This is just a starting point; we haven’t yet discussed implementation or evaluation. Comparing this to my experience at Novartis, where leaders were evaluated every six months, we still have a way to go.

What are some current challenges with leadership development overall in your company?

The challenge lies in bridging the gap between theoretical models and practical application. Sometimes, we might promote someone waiting for a leadership role, even if they don’t meet all criteria. We need to balance following our guidelines with flexibility and decide how to manage current leaders who don’t meet these criteria.

Have you considered using AI tools in developing the future generation of leaders? Why/why not?

We use AI in HR for communication and appraisals. AI is efficient and effective. Personally, I am enthusiastic about exploring its further use in leadership development.

What applications of AI seem most promising to you from a leadership development standpoint? Where does AI fall flat?

AI is most easily implemented in recruiting – from creating job ads to conducting interviews. Its potential in talent development is less clear. While AI can assist in social media analytics, its role in training is uncertain, especially when training needs are highly individualized. However, I am open to exploring AI’s possibilities in this area, much like my initial experience with ChatGPT.

To learn from more experts on how to grow leaders at your company, check out our full list of interviews here.

If you’re looking to grow future leaders at your own company, get in touch to see how Bunch can enable you to give every person in your company a personalized, continuous development program in just 2 minutes a day.