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    We had the pleasure to chat with Maria Kiebacher Sr, Teamhead Licensed Business & Business Development Teamsport at PUMA, about her career journey and current role at PUMA.

    How did you start your career at PUMA?

    I started my career as an intern, a very typical way to start your career at PUMA. My first department was Sports Marketing and my main responsibilities involved managing the servicing of players and teams, sending products to them and supporting the bigger team in all different areas… Then I got my first permanent position as a Junior Manager in Marketing, which gave me the opportunity to be involved in many tasks. The team back then was extremely small in comparison to what it is today, hence a lot of responsibilities were centered in one person. Photo and video shoots were soon a very important part of my role. I usually describe this early phase of my career as a good mixture of acting like an event manager, a project manager, a producer, and an art director… lol!

    The team got bigger and bigger and in 2016 I was able to lead it, being promoted to Teamhead and being responsible for the production and creative functions in Teamsport, being later extended to commercial marketing.

    Four years ago, I wanted to expand my horizons and went into the business side, an exciting change. I started off with leading Licensing and Licensed Business in Teamsport, working very closely with the Italian National team as well as our main club partners AC Milan, Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund on all licensing, contractual and business-related matters. 

    As of 2021 my role got extended and I'm now also responsible for business development in Teamsport. While licensed business is very focused on working with our club and national team partners, business development is focused on collaborating with our key markets to expand the business - for both pillars the internal alignment with the Product, Go-to-Market and Marketing functions is equally important.


    Can you share about any exciting projects you’ve been involved and that are close to your heart?

    Maria noir et blnc

    Probably two. One is from my marketing days when we were working with Arsenal. When we first started collaborating with them there was a big respect for that big name, so we decided to work very closely with an agency to make sure we would deliver what was necessary. After two years we decided to take the creative/campaign development in-house and I was confident we could do it, but it still was a project with a high risk of failure. We made it happen and it was probably one of the best campaigns we've done so far. I remember seeing a big excitement inside PUMA and I was a crucial part of the whole project. We learned a lot in the process, and we obviously made mistakes, but I was happy to be part of that journey.
    The second one is a bit more recent, which is the successful extension of our contract with AC Milan where I was one of the driving forces in the whole process. It was a super exciting and respectful contract negotiation where we were able to create numerous win-win situations and provisions, which to me is key for a fruitful and true partnership.  

    How does the passion for sports help a person to thrive in this environment?

    Working in the sports environment exposes you to a really different culture. I'm a strong believer that you can only be good at something you have a passion for.  I think it's ok not to be a sports expert (that can be learned), but a genuine passion and interest is crucial. That's what makes the culture of this company and what people experience during coffee breaks, on the hallways, team gatherings… so yes, I would say a passion for sports is vital to help you succeed.


    Why is it a good idea to apply for PUMA? 

    It's hard to make it tangible, but I swear that even after working here for 14 years I have never had a day which was boring, and that’s because I have constant opportunities to learn new things. I really like the flat hierarchy and the fact that the best ideas win, not hierarchy - not that it's completely unimportant, but since I was an intern, I felt part of a team and had the freedom to speak up. People are empowered and the 'it's ok to make mistakes' culture is great. Also, the possibility to switch to different areas is something that maybe would not be possible in other companies, so if you take your chances and bring your ideas, PUMA will give you the chance to progress and develop.


    Maria running


        Connect with Maria on LinkedIn.




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