Nadine Heubel - The Executive Formula Podcast #1

Nadine Heubel, Former CEO at Heinemann Americas | The Executive Formula Podcast #1

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Below is a link to the full video of The Executive Formula Podcast #1 with Nadine Heubel and hosted by Edouard Thoumyre. Further down you will find a full transcript of our conversation, including links to the exact moments in the video.

Guest: Nadine Heubel, Global SVP of Revenue at REKLAIM – former CEO at Heinemann Americas

Host: Edouard Thoumyre, Managing Partner & Executive Recruiter at ACCUR Recruiting Services

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Nadine Heubel’s Profile

REKLAIM (Global SVP Revenue – Travel & Hospitality)
Sep 2023 – Present · 8 mos
Los Angeles, CA, USA (Remote)

Newmark (Senior Managing Director – Travel Retail North America & Global Wholesale)
Aug 2022 – Sep 2023 · 1 yr 2 mos
Miami, FL, USA

Heinemann Americas, Inc. (CEO)
May 2016 – Mar 2022 · 5 yrs 11 mos
Miami, FL, USA

Gebr. Heinemann SE & Co KG (Sales Director Inflight & Catering)
Apr 2009 – Apr 2016 · 7 yrs 1 mo

Gebr. Heinemann SE & Co KG (Head of Category Management – Distribution)
Apr 2008 – Apr 2009 · 1 yr 1 moApr 2008 – Apr 2009 · 1 yr 1 mo

HUGO BOSS (Head of Travel Retail)
Aug 1996 – 2008 · 11 yrs 6 mos

REKLAIM (Global SVP Revenue – Travel & Hospitality)
Sep 2023 – Present · 8 mos
Los Angeles, CA, USA (Remote)

Newmark (Senior Managing Director – Travel Retail North America & Global Wholesale)
Aug 2022 – Sep 2023 · 1 yr 2 mos
Miami, FL, USA

Heinemann Americas, Inc. (CEO)
May 2016 – Mar 2022 · 5 yrs 11 mos
Miami, FL, USA

Gebr. Heinemann SE & Co KG (Sales Director Inflight & Catering)
Apr 2009 – Apr 2016 · 7 yrs 1 mo

Gebr. Heinemann SE & Co KG (Head of Category Management – Distribution)
Apr 2008 – Apr 2009 · 1 yr 1 moApr 2008 – Apr 2009 · 1 yr 1 mo

HUGO BOSS (Head of Travel Retail)
Aug 1996 – 2008 · 11 yrs 6 mos

Nadine Heubel’s Full Profile on Linkedin

Table of Contents

Here are the loose “chapters” in the conversation. Click link to jump approximately to that part in the transcript:

Podcast Introduction

(00:00:00) Edouard Thoumyre
Welcome to the Executive Formula, the podcast where we discuss the strategies, challenges, and successes of climbing the corporate ladder, as well as the behind the scenes of the recruitment world. Hello everyone, I’m your host, Edouard Thoumyre, Managing Partner at ACCUR Recruiting Services, a boutique executive search firm specializing in consumer industries. Today we’re kicking off our very first episode with a special guest and former client of ours, Nadine Heubel.

Nadine, amongst many other things, was the former CEO at HEINEMANN Americas and currently is the Senior VP of Global Revenue at REKLAIM. I think her career journey leading up to having top executive roles at HEINEMANN and REKLAIM can be fascinating for our audience, but probably is also the recent entrepreneurial career choices that she made leading up to becoming this Senior VP at REKLAIM.

Nadine, welcome to The Executive Formula. It’s a pleasure to have you with us.

(00:00:58) Nadine Heubel
And well, thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here with you and share my journey with you.

Guest Introduction: Nadine Heubel

(00:01:04) Edouard Thoumyre
Great. So as I just said, we’ve been in touch for a few years. You were a client, then you became a candidate when we started working for REKLAIM last year. And I understand you also have some interesting side gigs being a podcaster yourself. So maybe you can talk about it as well and plug it into this podcast.

But what I would like to do in this episode is try and explore the possible ways that one becomes an executive and grow a career in the corporate world but also maybe in a more entrepreneurial environment. So I have a few questions for you today and hopefully leading up to getting a few rules or a few best practices or maybe pieces of advice for our viewers and listeners. But before we get started, I would love it if we could provide some context around the names we are presenting. HEINEMANN might not be familiar to everybody, and maybe REKLAIM even less so. So if you could introduce HEINEMANN and REKLAIM just in a few words so that we understand what we’re talking about today.

(00:02:17) Nadine Heubel
Yes, absolutely. So two completely different companies. HEINEMANN is actually a family business in the fifth generation, 100 and I think 44 years old now, and one of the big players in the duty-free world. So HEINEMANN has duty-free stores all over the world. Maybe the listeners are familiar with the HEINEMANN stores in Frankfurt or Istanbul or Oslo or Sydney.
So this is a duty-free player. They are in airports, cruise ships, border stores, everything related to duty-free and travel.

And then on the other side, you have REKLAIM, and REKLAIM is a new company. It’s a start-up, which was founded two years ago by two co-founders, Jamie and kam. They are from the tech and pre-owned world.
So at its core, REKLAIM is a data and tech company. But the business they do is they offer turnkey solutions in the pre-owned luxury space. So turnkey solutions for retailers, offering watches and handbags, which are pre-owned. So from the big luxury brands. And the vision of REKLAIM is actually to be the first maison of pre-owned luxury goods.

(00:03:42) Edouard Thoumyre
I’ve probably skipped a few other things that you’ve done and maybe you’ll have the opportunity to discuss them later on. To me, HEINEMANN and REKLAIM were the two very interesting points to get the discussion going. But if you feel that anything else is actually useful to discuss, please feel free to do so as well.

(00:04:04) Nadine Heubel
Thank you. We will talk more about it, but I think it’s going to be in the course of our discussion. I’m sure I can bring in my Hugo Boss experience as well, which I loved very much too.

What kind of Professional / Executive are you?

(00:04:15) Edouard Thoumyre
So yeah, my first question is about who you are as a professional. What is important to you in your career? And maybe as well, I’d love to understand if it was the same when you started your career. Have you become a different professional as you grew your career? Have your goals evolved over the years? Have you reached what you expected? Please tell us more about this.

(00:04:45) Nadine Heubel
Sure, absolutely. So if I had to describe myself with my professional head on, then I would say Nadine, I am a servant leader, I am a strategist with a growth mindset, and I’m a positive disruptor. And what does this…

(00:05:02) Edouard Thoumyre
Servant leader? What do you mean by servant leader?

(00:05:08) Nadine Heubel
What drives me is the success of the people who work for me and with me. So my job as a leader really is to develop environments where people can actually thrive and where people can come to work and bring their best selves to work. So that’s my job as a leader. And I feel my KPI as a servant leader then is if people thrive.

This is when I have achieved my goal because I also believe that in environments where people thrive, companies also thrive financially.

Have you career goals changed overtime?

(00:05:51) Edouard Thoumyre
So, do you feel that these goals and the way that you are as a professional now is the same as when you started? And I’m asking this because I realized with myself that what I envisioned for myself was quite different from what I became. So I’m interested in knowing if others have also experienced similar journeys and similar changes.

(00:06:16) Nadine Heubel
So yeah, I think that my goals have actually been very similar when I started my career to what they are now. I was just not able to really articulate it as accurately as I did it now. And I remember when I had my first job interview, actually it was at Hugo Boss, and I was interviewing for a management trainee program. It was the first interview I ever had.

I was asked by the HR director what my goals were in 10 years time. And what I had said was that I wanted to be a leader, that I wanted to work in an international environment and I want to have a lot of human interaction. So this is the way I described my goals 25 years ago. And I think you know that they are very, very similar to what I actually became from what I wanted to be and what I envisioned what it was to what it is now, it’s of course very different. Especially when we talk about servant leadership, for example, for me, when I said it 25 years ago, I wanted to be a leader. What I had envisioned was basically that I was going to be the boss and that I could delegate a lot of things to a lot of people and that I was very important. That’s what it meant to me at that time. And as you heard from my explanation before.

(00:07:34) Edouard Thoumyre
Ha ha!

(00:07:39) Nadine Heubel
It’s very, very different from what I believe is now important as a leader.

(00:07:46) Edouard Thoumyre
Yeah, it’s just different words and different ways of being a boss. And it’s true that when you start your career, it’s a basic… Being a boss is a basic caricature of itself, but then you encounter so many different variations of being a boss that it becomes a bit more refined as you grow. Yeah, okay. So, I think what was interesting, I mean, what strikes me and probably is…

(00:07:50) Nadine Heubel

(00:08:04) Nadine Heubel

(00:08:15) Edouard Thoumyre
important for the listeners is, I mean, I expect that many people with ambition and with the ambition of growing a corporate career can look at your career growth, becoming the CEO of HEINEMANN AMERICAS as a good example. Maybe and correct me if I’m wrong, but then the changes that you made after working in a more entrepreneurial environment are quite different and it’s probably like the second of a new start in your career. And so I’d love to focus first on the first half and then we can discuss on the second half. But I was first very interested in understanding the choices you made to ultimately become a CEO. Maybe the other encounters of the people, the key people you met.

The role of luck?

Do you think there was luck involved in everything? Do you think, you know, how did you grow up to become the CEO of Ironman Americas? I mean, it’s very wide and we can chop it up into several parts, but that’s the ultimate goal of my question, yeah.

(00:09:22) Nadine Heubel
Yeah, so… Okay, great. Yeah, and as you said also, it is very different what I have done between 1996 when I joined the workforce until 2022 and what I’m doing now. And I would say during my corporate career, that’s how I would call it, my corporate career was very, very linear, meaning that, you know, every few years I, I got a promotion. I got a moved up, got a bigger title, got more responsibility, got, got a, got a bigger salary. And if I maybe can talk a little bit about this. So I started in, in Hugo Boss at a trainee program. Um, this was a three year program where I went through all the different departments in the, in the organization, which was really great because you really experience all the different departments and I very quickly I would say found out that there are certain areas which are not made for me and that there are other areas where I’m really excited about and this was sales and business development strategy marketing. So these were the areas which I really enjoyed. And then from there I started in the travel retail division. I was the area manager for Middle East and Asia within Hugo Boss, so focusing on the Hugo Boss business at airports. Then I became

(00:10:44) Edouard Thoumyre
Yeah, travel retail meaning duty free as well. Just because not everybody understands travel retail.

(00:10:47) Nadine Heubel
Yes. Yeah, thank you. That’s true. I’ve been too long in this business that I’m getting a little bit blindsided. So yes, travel retail, duty free. And then I got promoted to be the head of the travel retail department. And I was in charge for six years. And then actually I moved to HEINEMANN, which was at that time one of my biggest clients.

(00:11:13) Nadine Heubel
And again, also there I had very linear career development. I started as the director for Category Management and then I was promoted to be the first woman ever leading a sales division in I think at that time 135 years of Gebrüder HEINEMANN history with sales divisions only led by men and I was really fortunate enough to be in charge of the invite and catering division.

(00:11:42) Nadine Heubel
And then I became the CEO of Fundament Americas in 2016. And I, but I think what, what everything, what all my career steps in a way had in, in common was that I always articulated what I wanted. So I was, I was always trying to be very self-aware where I wanted to, what I wanted to do, what would excite me.

And it was not about the title. It was really more about the responsibility. So just to give you one example in my, in the early stages and then in the later stages. So in, in Hugo Boss, as I mentioned, I, um, in my training program time, I realized quickly where I would like to put the focus on and one was into in sales. So I went to the head of the international sales department. I was 21 years old at that time and I made an appointment with him.

And I told him that in about six months, I’m finishing my program and I would really love to work in his department. And that if he could consider me for any positions, this would be amazing. And then he said, look, thank you for sharing at that time. I don’t have any position a little, but I will keep you in mind. And then really five months later, he called me and offered me the position in the, in the travel retail division. And something very similar then happened in HEINEMANN as well.

(00:13:06) Nadine Heubel
At that time, I think 2012, 2013, I told my boss that I wanted to be responsible, have the strategic responsibility for a company, that I would love to do this outside of Germany. Yeah, and that I was ready to move wherever I was needed. It was 2013, and I also told him that there was no time pressure. I think that’s also always very important. Not putting pressure, it’s really more about waiting for the right opportunity to come.

(00:13:36) Nadine Heubel
and then go and take it. So two years later, yeah, he offered me the job as the CEO of Finanmen Americas. And I would say another important thing is has always also been to really make sure that you have great relationships within the organization. I was very fortunate that I had always bosses who believed in me, who gave me feedback, who wanted to make sure that I could grow and that my potential really would be maximized.

(00:14:06) Nadine Heubel
And I also developed really great relationship with my clients and vendors, because also they can be amazing mentors and advisors and consultants too, so yeah.

(00:14:15) Edouard Thoumyre
Yeah. And reference as well, maybe somehow indirectly. Yeah. And do you feel that those promotions also came just because you did good work or also because you kind of made the first step of connecting with other heads of departments to let them know about the good work you were doing?

(00:14:39) Edouard Thoumyre
And maybe you were not expected to first discuss with the head of travel retail to become a sales director and maybe you just took the initiative to go and talk to them as opposed to just wait for HR or whatever to call you one day and say you have a promotion, right?

(00:14:56) Nadine Heubel
Absolutely, I think this is really the most important is that you, what I said that you really voice what you want. Because I always wonder what’s the worst what can happen to you. They could then tell you very frankly, you know what, we don’t see you, but then see you in a position or we don’t see you in the department. But then this allows you then to have discussions with them and understand maybe why.

(00:15:19) Nadine Heubel
And yeah, that’s what I, my mantra is always, or I always ask myself, if I’m going to go and ask what’s the worst, what can happen? And the worst can happen is they’re going to say, no, that’s, that’s really the worst, what, what can happen. And then I also think the other one is because you’re not always in the room when discussions take place about promotions. That’s why I think it’s also important that you have really strong connections with, with people.

(00:15:44) Nadine Heubel
that you have people who speak out for you, who are your, I would call them like sponsors, so that when discussions are held about, oh, who could we send to Miami, who could be the person to do this, that then maybe two or three people are saying, well, Nadine voiced it with me and then somebody else says, yeah, I really have a good, she seems to be a great candidate. And so I think that both sides are important. And I would not just rely on.

(00:16:02) Edouard Thoumyre
seems to be a candidate.

(00:16:12) Nadine Heubel
Just do good work and hope that somebody’s gonna see that you do good work. I don’t think that this is enough.

Internal networking and promotions

(00:16:16) Edouard Thoumyre
Yeah. No, I’ve seen it so many times as we’re interviewing many people and we’ve been doing executive search for a long time. I’ve seen many people who were kind of implying that they were disappointed not getting a promotion despite their good work, that they were expecting at some point HR to call them and say, you have a promotion. And very often I would ask them whether they had already networked within the company.

to maybe talk to other potential bosses that could hire them internally and make them move, other people who could make a case for you and so on. And it seems like it’s a really, it’s a key initiative to have to make those promotions happen as opposed to just wait for them to arrive just because you do a good job. Of course, doing a good job is important as a necessary step, but especially some companies don’t necessarily have like,

(00:17:03) Nadine Heubel

(00:17:11) Edouard Thoumyre
very strong HR in terms of decision making for promotions. And in some companies, HR is a bit more administrative. In some companies, HR are very strong and are really taking decisions as far as career development and promotions. But in any case, networking internally seems to be a key success factor for people moving up the ladder. I’ve noticed it many times.

(00:17:34) Nadine Heubel

(00:17:41) Nadine Heubel
And also what you said, I think that’s also responsibility of the people who want to get promotion is really to understand, you know, who are the decision makers? Is it HR? Is it not HR? To really understand the dynamics in an organization as well. That’s, I feel, was always my responsibility as well.

Building up the right set of skills

(00:17:59) Edouard Thoumyre
Yeah. How about the aspect of getting to see, it was probably the point of your trainee program at the beginning, but getting to see several angles of the company to allow yourself to become a general manager or to move up. And of course, if you know only finance or strictly only marketing, maybe you’re not the best candidate to become a general manager or CEO, etc. But how did you go about making sure that you would build a set of skills that would lead up to being a candidate to become a CEO?

Do you organize this in a way or did it just come more naturally because HEINEMANN is organized this way?

(00:18:38) Nadine Heubel
No, I would say that I did organize it this way. And again, you know, the root was I did this trainee program for three years. So I kind of also experienced myself what it meant actually to work in the warehouse, to work in production, to work in accounting and so forth. And I think this really was also kind of a red thread through my career. I always also wanted to understand what’s happening around me. So, you know, I never saw myself as an isolated siloed unit.

I really wanted to understand, you know, how did the HEINEMANN warehouse function? It’s one of the most sophisticated and state-of-the-art warehouses in the duty-free travel retail industry. So I wanted to understand it as well. And I was curious and I, you know, asked questions about it. I also did executive MBA classes. Yeah, I really wanted to make sure that I was not just basing my skill set on my current role.

but making sure that, you know, that it would help me in my current role if I better understood all the functions around it.

The role of mentors

(00:19:52) Edouard Thoumyre
Okay. Did you have a chance to meet with people who became kind of mentors to you? Have you had any mentors that really made a difference?

(00:20:03) Nadine Heubel
Yes, I did and I do have mentors. And I would say that I even would call it today my personal advisory board. So I have really a different set of people with different backgrounds, with different skillsets who really help me and advise me. So.

(00:20:15) Edouard Thoumyre

(00:20:31) Nadine Heubel
Of course, we don’t have any board meetings and there is no board minutes, but these are the people and it’s a group of people where I can go and ask questions. If I get stuck, if I need a second opinion or if I’m also just having a very bad day or made a mistake or something, then I can go to the people. What is again what was…

like standing out and maybe this is the theme for me here is I was never afraid to ask people if they wanted to be my mentor, if they wanted to be my personal advisor.

(00:21:08) Edouard Thoumyre

(00:21:12) Edouard Thoumyre
Did you formalize it this way asking the question, can you be my mentor or is it more of a, okay.

(00:21:15) Nadine Heubel
Yes, it’s in both. It’s both, you know, some just happened, happened naturally. You have conversations and then you realize that you reach out to the people from time to time and ask advice. But for example, with another one, a CEO of a big supermarket chain here in the US, I got introduced to him.

completely different reason why we got introduced. And I met him and I thought, oh my God, this is an amazing gentleman. And I really enjoy listening to him and I enjoy and admire his leadership ideas and so forth. And after we had this call, I thought, you know what, I’m just gonna ask him. So I reached out to him and asked him if he wants to become my mentor.

And really like within a day I had a response he said, absolutely, so now I’m still until today, I can call his assistant and make 30 minute call with him and then can talk about any advice I need and he will listen and he will be very honest with me. He will also say things to me which I maybe not always wanna hear, but I’m always very grateful that he’s very open and then he also holds me accountable, which is great. Yeah.

(00:22:19) Edouard Thoumyre

(00:22:25) Edouard Thoumyre
And you can call him every week. No. Ha ha ha.

(00:22:28) Nadine Heubel
No. No, let’s say I haven’t tried, but I think there would be at one point, there would be maybe a little bit of, maybe too much Nadine. Yes.

Finding your own mentors

(00:22:40) Edouard Thoumyre
Yeah. How do you think you were able to create these relationships with mentors? I mean, you said it just before, it’s just about asking. That’s the first step. But it seems like people, maybe younger people building the beginning steps of careers, and maybe some of them could feel that, OK, I’m not coming from a family with a network and whatever.

How can I get a mentor? And how did you go about it?

(00:23:13) Edouard Thoumyre
How do you identify them and how do you approach them?

(00:23:17) Nadine Heubel
Yeah. So first of all, I also like what you said that, you know, that there are younger people who maybe don’t have the family network. And I have to say I can completely relate. I’m one of them. I come from a very humble background, from the German countryside. My parents were both blue collar workers and the first college graduate. So, you know, I didn’t, I did not have this kind of network.

And what I did, and I think this was especially when I was younger and I had really a lot of energy, I would attend every event which was offered in especially in the duty free and travel retail world and I would just network. And I…

(00:24:04) Nadine Heubel
A few weeks ago, I was at a conference and somebody was talking about the principles of success and she was saying one thing, she said, network or die. I kind of got reminded of my younger days when that’s exactly what I did. I networked and then networked. I think one of the things where I’m really good in is I can build connection with people and I can also feel.

(00:24:29) Edouard Thoumyre
build connections.

(00:24:33) Nadine Heubel
if we are the same, I don’t know, the same vibe or wavelengths, exactly. And then with those people, you build relationships and then…

(00:24:35) Edouard Thoumyre
Yeah, wavelengths. Yeah.

(00:24:50) Edouard Thoumyre
But so they’re beyond your former direct bosses. It’s beyond that. It’s like outside of your companies and just the networking created those opportunities. Yeah.

(00:24:55) Nadine Heubel
Absolutely. Yes.

(00:25:02) Nadine Heubel
Exactly. And now what I’m now I’m also more intentional because again, I don’t maybe don’t have the energy anymore to network or die at industry events. So now it’s I’m also for example, I’m a member of the International Women’s Forum, which is a network of 7,000 women globally, where you can find extremely interesting people. And so I have different

of these communities I’m a member of. Yeah.

More about Luck

(00:25:31) Edouard Thoumyre
Yeah. Okay. How about the importance of luck? Do you feel that luck played a role? Do you feel that luck is maybe, is not the right word, but maybe it’s a question of putting yourself in a situation where you can take opportunities and grab those opportunities? I mean, how do you see that in your, in your career development?

(00:25:57) Nadine Heubel

You know, I think there is always a level of luck included. I wouldn’t want to say that, you know, that this is pure hard work and so forth. Yes, yes, I think there is always, you know, you make a connection with somebody and then this might lead to a job or to a great food for thought or whatever, and you are at the right place at the right moment. So yes, I do think that there is this, that there is an element of luck.

(00:26:10) Edouard Thoumyre
merits and yeah

(00:26:27) Nadine Heubel
But at the same time, I also one time read a book that you, you know, that nothing happens by chance because you need to create these opportunities that something can happen. So I do think that there is a lot of, you know, creating opportunities and speaking out what you want that eventually things happen.

Because you know, just like mathematically also thinking, if you ask 10 times, then your chances of getting a yes are higher than if you only ask once. So, yeah.

(00:27:03) Edouard Thoumyre
Of course. And hopefully your yes, and hopefully your yes has a much bigger impact than the nine knows before. And so, and as you develop your career and your skills, you’re able to better see good opportunities that make up for maybe the small mistakes along the way. Yeah. Okay.

(00:27:24) Nadine Heubel
Yes, absolutely. And I also think that from the nine no’s, you can also learn a lot and understand why there was maybe a no. And then this also advances you in your career or in your decision making.

(00:27:32) Edouard Thoumyre
Learn something.

(00:27:44) Edouard Thoumyre
Yeah, I mean, I’ve noticed as well several times and I also take it for myself when I look back at how I grew my business. It was a series of smaller opportunities, but sometimes important that made me take a big decision that in the end ended up being the right one, but there were several bad ones before leading up to a good one. And if you don’t open yourself to any opportunities, then luck never happens.

(00:28:08) Nadine Heubel

(00:28:13) Nadine Heubel

What about failures?

(00:28:14) Edouard Thoumyre
So that’s a little bit the lesson that I took as well. How about failing? Did you experience failing and did you experience like, yeah, making big mistakes? Obviously, I mean, the clear game in this situation is to learn something and to not do it again and so on. But like, what were your biggest examples of failing and what have you learned from it?

(00:28:18) Nadine Heubel
Yeah, agreed.

(00:28:22) Nadine Heubel

(00:28:41) Nadine Heubel
Yes, so absolutely I have made big mistakes in my career. But, no, no. So I made some big mistakes. I make mistakes every day. I think we all make mistakes every day. But for me, like from the big mistakes when they happen and I can talk about some in a second, as you said, without like compromising myself.

(00:28:47) Edouard Thoumyre
Don’t compromise yourself, but yeah.

(00:29:11) Nadine Heubel
I always then follow the same debrief, my internal Nadine debrief when something like this happens. The first question I always ask myself, did I give all my personal self in making a decision happen and did I use best judgment with the information which was available to me at that time? If this is a yes.

then I can then I dig deeper and really understand, okay, what went wrong and how can I ensure that next time I will make it better. If I have to be very honest with myself and say maybe for whatever reason I did not give my best self or I was not using all the information which was around me, then I will first of all have a very serious Nadine between Nadine discussion to make sure that this cannot happen again because for me this is.

this is even this is a bigger mistake where you need to dig a little even deeper to really understand why was it that he was not giving it you all and why did you not use all the information which was provided to you. And very, very often what I then what I then realize is that my gut told me for whatever reason not to do it. And I did it and I kind of decided above my gut and

and then mistakes happen. So I need to always remind myself that I have a good balance or a good warning system within myself and I need to trust myself. And if I do, then usually things are good. But another learning I also got from failure is I think we also need to, especially Europeans, maybe more than Americans, I think we also need to normalize failure.

(00:30:39) Edouard Thoumyre

(00:31:04) Nadine Heubel
You know, failure is important as long as we learn from it. Because I would also say that I’ve learned much more from wrong decisions I made than from the successes. And…

(00:31:15) Edouard Thoumyre
the failures, of course.

(00:31:20) Nadine Heubel
In HEINEMANN, I was trying an experiment with my leadership team at that time where we were, I wanted to encourage everybody to talk about the failures and then, you know, vote for the biggest failure in the room. And I was sharing a story with them about what I was, you know, what I had not done right. And then I realized that some of the leaders, I think there were like 15 people in the room, some of the leaders were not able to share any failure. And what it taught me

was something very important. It taught me actually that we had not created the company or the team culture I wanted to create because we need to really create environments where people can be vulnerable and where people can share failure openly because we all have them. If somebody tells me I never had a failure, this can’t be true, this is not right. So then I realized that I had to do more work as a servant leader.

(00:32:15) Nadine Heubel
to ensure that I create this environment where everybody can show up with vulnerability and that we trust each other. Because I really think if we are able to fair failure and together learn from it and maybe even ask, look, I made this big mistake, what do you think I can do better? This is when as teams we can really thrive.

(00:32:38) Edouard Thoumyre
Sure, but I mean on the mistakes there’s the ability or the possibility of sharing mistakes but it is also like if you never try anything you never make any mistakes. So there’s also a culture of trying, taking initiatives and so on that is important around making mistakes not an end to itself but also a means to becoming a better professional. And I agree with you there are vast differences between Europe and the US as far as how failure and mistakes are being considered. And probably Europe has a bit to learn from the US on that side.

Leaving the corporate world

I’m sorry, we’re going a little bit over our time and we haven’t spoken too much about the second portion of your career after HEINEMANN. So I’d love to not take too much of your time, too much more of your time, but if you could explain to us a little bit the reasons why you left a corporate environment like HEINEMANN for a more entrepreneurial type of environment. And I understand HEINEMANN was probably also a bit entrepreneurial in the Americas because you were also building up the business there. So what can you share with us?

(00:33:50) Nadine Heubel

(00:33:56) Nadine Heubel
Yeah, so during, during maybe I need to start, you know, how I got even excited about the startup ecosystem. So what happened during COVID in the really dark, dark times of COVID, I needed to find something where I could kind of, you know, keep my mind off. A cruise line industry we were at that time in HEINEMANN, very strong in the cruise line business and industry had come to a halt.

So it was a very depressing work environment, very tough moments. And I needed something as a balance where I could energize myself and get energy to go back to those very tough moment as the best version of myself. So I started, so a friend introducing me to accelerators in the startup world. And I started to be a mentor to young female entrepreneurs.

(00:34:24) Edouard Thoumyre
Yeah, tough moment.

(00:34:51) Edouard Thoumyre
Ah, yes.

(00:34:54) Nadine Heubel
And I really, really enjoyed this. And this was the first moment when I got introduced to this like really entrepreneurial world. Not what you said, yes, HEINEMANN was entrepreneurial, but we had the HEINEMANN headquarter of corporate support, we had corporate financing and everything. And this was like out in the wild, so to speak.

(00:35:09) Edouard Thoumyre
Corporate support.

(00:35:18) Nadine Heubel
So I really enjoyed doing this and then I did more. I started also advising, not just mentoring, but also advising, got some equity in some startups for advising. I also made some angel investments. I went to Harvard and did a course on private equity and venture capital. So I was really getting more and more fascinated and intrigued by this world. And then…

You reached out to me and had this amazing opportunity at REKLAIM.

(00:35:51) Edouard Thoumyre
but there was something in between as well. There was something in between, no?

(00:35:56) Nadine Heubel
Yeah, so in between I did, I went to, I did Newmark, I did consultancy, are you right? I did consultancy for a year, but this was more again on more a corporate role. Newmark is also a big corporate machine. My job was also entrepreneur, but again under the very corporate.

(00:36:16) Edouard Thoumyre
Supported by a group and okay

(00:36:18) Nadine Heubel
Exactly. So when you reached out, this was like the moment where I thought, yes, this is what I’ve always wanted to do. I always not just wanted to be a mentor, advisor or angel investor. I actually want to be part of it. I want to be part of the startup ecosystem myself. I wanted to be an employee and I was lucky enough to be employee number one at


(00:36:41) Edouard Thoumyre
Very good. Excellent, I mean, thank you so much for all your insights. Hopefully it can be interesting to listeners and I hope it can be interesting for people beginning their careers, but as well people who are more advanced in their careers and probably, I don’t know, director of EP level, trying to find ways to become the boss. But yeah, thank you so much for your insights today.

(00:37:15) Nadine Heubel
Thank you for having me. Thank you.

(00:37:17) Edouard Thoumyre
All right. Thank you very much Nadine.

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Edouard Thoumyre Managing Partner
Edouard Thoumyre is a seasoned executive recruiter with over 17 years of experience in executive search, as the Founder and Managing Partner of ACCUR Recruiting Services. Specializing in the Consumer and Luxury Goods industries, he has a proven track record of placing senior level and C-level executives in family, private equity-backed, and Fortune 500 companies in the beauty, wine & spirits, watch & jewelry, home goods, and tobacco industries, among others. Edouard Thoumyre holds a master’s degree in Entrepreneurship from HEC Paris (#1 European Business School, Financial Times rankings) and a master’s degree in industrial engineering from Centrale Lille (a top 10 French engineering school). ACCUR Recruiting Services has been recognized as a Forbes Top 100 executive search firm since 2018.Edouard Thoumyre and his firm, ACCUR Recruiting Services, have been featured in numerous publications such as WWD, Business Insider, Newsweek, CPG Specialist, Yahoo Finance,, Marketplace by NPR, Business of Fashion Edouard Thoumyre on Linkedin (25k 1st deg. connections)