In an effort to nurture and further the careers of its female employees, Hansgrohe has launched its first Women in Leadership program.

Hansgrohe Launches Women in Leadership Program

Renee Maxwell, Director of Human Resources, discusses her motivation for the new program centered around nurturing women and helping them grow into leadership roles.

Renee Maxwell - Director of Human Resources

What was your motivation for creating this program?


Since joining the Hansgrohe team in 2004, I have known organizational leaders throughout the company - here in the US, other subsidiaries, and global headquarters. Hansgrohe as a global organization is truly diverse in many ways and areas, and we understand that diversity requires focus and nurturing. In the US, when we look at our team, we are overwhelmingly female. And, yet we lack their presence at the mid- level and executive management levels. We have work to do. 

Being a member of the leadership team and head of HR & OD, gives me a unique platform to help drive our diversity, equity and inclusion (D, E & I) efforts. This applies to not just our recruiting efforts but in our teams’ organizational and individual development initiatives. Even before the volatility of 2020, diversity and inclusion has been a goal. We began our journey a few years ago by implementing Masco Millions and charitable organization donations that also speak to D, E & I. As a woman of color, I appreciate the many corporate efforts happening around the world to "do and be better" in this area, to do more than just lip service. We need plans and actions to move us in the right direction. I dreamed of having a program like Women In Leadership for the past two years. It took a year to develop a model, bring all the elements and partners together, and garner enough energy and funding support to bring it all together. The program is more than just a pet project - it is really has been my baby!

What exactly does the new program entail?


The program is broken out into phases and includes varied content, from e-learning modules to group discussions and exercises to mentorships. The program culminates in participants creating individual plans around their professional goals and then building road maps leading to those goals.

What are your hopes and goals for the program?


First, I was hoping that women would be excited to participate. The next hope was that we have built and selected program content that is engaging, informative, and challenging. I think everyone is learning not only from the program but from participants’ shared experiences.

The women of Hansgrohe are dynamic forces to be recognized. We must build on that, gain exposure, and push to create the space for us to rise no matter what organizations we work at. To do this, we must build up our confidence, capabilities, competency, skills, and intellectual muscle. I think this program, and programs like this, serve that purpose.

I hope this pilot is a catalyst that pulls Hansgrohe forward as an industry leader in the development of women in leadership. While I can never guarantee when a role will be available, I believe it is our responsibility to invest and prepare our team members for the future, and I hope their future remains with Hansgrohe.The primary goal is to create future leaders and prepare them for when the opportunities present themselves. In other words, we should always be ready!

Ines Pojani - Product Manager

What is your biggest takeaway from the program so far? Or, what's the most important thing you've learned?


This program has been a fantastic initiative led by Renee Maxwell, and I am grateful to have been chosen for it; I feel lucky to work with such incredible women. The most important thing I've taken away from this program is how important it is for women to support each other and utilize our strengths without compromising our authenticity. You will never make everyone happy, but as long as you lean into your strengths and focus on where you provide value without worrying about changing yourself to fit a mold, you will succeed.

Did you always want to be in product management? What led you on that career path?


No, I actually began my career in Product Marketing and focused primarily on launch activities and promotions leading up to and the months following the launch. However, I was always curious about product development and the process with which an idea, concept, or drawing became a working product. When I made the transition from product marketing to product management, I joined a product management team that was fairly new and growing. We worked on developing a stage gate process to help improve our product launches and go-to market strategies by collaborating with several departments to ensure all key stakeholders were included in the process. Working hand-in-hand with the R&D department was an incredible experience. I was able to help work on several concepts and ideas and watched them become fully developed products we could present to our customers. The process of product development is very exciting, and you can't help but feel pride when you see that product idea sketch or inspo board become a working product in our customers’ homes or businesses. I've experienced that same level of excitement here at Hansgrohe launching products like Aquno Select in the US market. An innovative sketch and concept became a one-of-a-kind kitchen faucet which was met with endless "oooohhhhh's" and "aaaahhhh's" at the 2020 KBIS show. As a product manager, there's nothing more exciting than witnessing peoples’ eyes light up when they see a new product.

In your opinion, what are the most important thing(s) to becoming a successful product manager?


Communication. Communication. Communication. It is very cliché but such a true statement. As a PM, I have the opportunity to work cross-functionally with several teams within the company. Ensuring those team members are aware of the timeline and key details pertaining to the launch allows them to plan ahead and prepare all of the required tasks to ensure our customers have everything they need by the launch date. Promptly communicating any changes to the plan ensures we are able to strategize as a team on the best way to handle those challenges and make the best decision for our company, the product, and our customers. Communication is crucial in any role but particularly for product managers, when the majority of your responsibility is ensuring a product is tracking for an on-time delivery and any variation to that is clearly planned for and communicated.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out as a product manager?


Focus on the basics first. Fully understand the launch process at your company and the key teams responsible for product launches. Develop a communication strategy to ensure key stakeholders are aware of each stage of the launch and the expected tasks. If your company does not have a clearly defined launch process, you will have the opportunity to build it with your coworkers which will not only help you learn the process, but you'll be an expert at it. Another piece of advice I have is to always put yourself in the customer's shoes. Think about any product you have the power to mold as a solution for that customer's problems. Think about what benefit your family and friends would have in purchasing your product. Sometimes, as product managers, we tend to get lost in the technical features of a product, which are great, but those technical features need to be translated into clear benefits and solutions for the customer using your product day in and day out. Always think of the customer's needs and challenges first. Then develop a solution for their challenges.

As a Project Sales Manager and Sustainability Specialist, Stephanie Tesch leads her projects with passion. She discusses what makes her projects successful and taking opportunities when they present themselves.

Stephanie Tesch - Key Account Manager, Hospitality Sustainability Specialist

What is your biggest takeaway from the Women in Leadership program so far? Or, what's the most important thing you've learned?

I've learned that if you, a woman, want to be part of the conversation at the leadership table, then be bold and take a seat at the table!  Believing everything is an opportunity and being confident in that belief, is extremely important in achieving your dreams and paving the way for others. 

What is your favorite part of your job?

Relationship building!  I have always truly enjoyed meeting new people, learning their stories, understanding their backgrounds and helping them to achieve their goals. This easily translates into my job today- ensuring projects are a success, from the initial dream of a design to the opening of the front doors to guests. My position at Hansgrohe in project sales has afforded me the wonderful opportunity of meeting so many individuals, and I am so thankful for all the new, cherished relationships. 

You work with architects, designers and developers. What is the most important part of getting a project right? 

Truly listening to your project partners throughout every stage of the process. You are there to help their dreams and ambitions become a reality, not tell them what to do. Being a true partner is key!

What is one thing you try to incorporate into every project?

I try to incorporate and build a reputation of trust and support within all my projects.  It is extremely important to me as an individual to make sure that my clients feel supported throughout the process, but that they can also come to me with any new idea, concern or outside topic- any time. 

Do you have any advice on being a woman in sales? 

I advise not adapting to the environments and relationships in which you participate, but rather influencing them positively. 

What is your passion?

Sustainability!  I hold a MS in Sustainable Management and have always worked both in my personal life and professional sectors to achieve 'better.'  Whether it be composting and working in my own organic garden, volunteering with local community and/or environmental initiatives, or guiding industry partners through green building guidelines, sustainability is at the forefront of my life as my true passion. Recently, I have become the Hansgrohe US Sustainability Specialist, an exciting role that assists our US subsidiary in pursuing stronger responsibility as a corporation.

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