Part-time Manager: A Conversation with Katharina Drees and Ingrid Schwartz

Portraitbild von zwei Mitarbeiterinnen

A part-time manager? Yeah, we can do that. In the conversation, two colleagues talk about how a part-time manager works, and how it sometimes feels.

Portraitbild von zwei Mitarbeiterinnen
Ingrid Schwartz (l.) und Katharina Drees (r.)

Before we get to the subject, a brief introduction. Who are you and what are you doing at Vetter?

“My name is Katharina Drees, I'm a senior manager in organizational development at Vetter and part of a six-person team.”

“My name is Ingrid Schwartz and I work at Vetter as a team leader in supply chain management. The team I lead is nine people strong.”

You two attended a panel discussion at the Museum Humpis Quartier in Ravensburg on July 12, 2023. It was about “Care work”. How did you get there?

Ingrid said: “I work at Vetter, but in this case I started as a private person. A personal contact asked me because I am dealing with the topic of part-time work.” 

Katharina said: “It was a bit more official with me because my participation was requested through Vetter, which means I was there as a representative of the company.”

You both deal with part-time in different ways, right?

Katharina: “I am not working part-time myself, but I am working intensively on the issue because I am leading the project “Part-time manager” at Vetter as part of the new corporate strategy Vetter NExT 2029. This project is about developing flexible working time models for managers. In a first step for operational production, then with a focus on the entire company – and not only in theory, but really in a practical trial.”

Ingrid: “As I said, it affected me personally and directly when my son, who is now three years old, was born. We shared parental leave, and I wanted to get back to work quickly, but with a part-time solution. It was also a new path for my manager, but we decided to try it out. And we've found it works to connect leadership and part-time.”

From your point of view, what are the success factors, when does part-time leadership work?

Ingrid: “I'll talk out of practical experience. Very important, for example, is a good nursery where I can be sure that they reliably have my back. Vetter supports the placement of nursery spots. That, of course, is a big advantage. Another point is self-organization and good communication with the team.”

Portraitbild von zwei Mitarbeiterinnen

You learn to delegate tasks more clearly so that they can be done even when you’re not there. To achieve this, it is very important to have a good trust in the team.

Ingrid Schwartz, team leader in supply chain management

Katharina: “I would like to bring this even more into focus at this point. In order to make part-time models more self-evident for managers, we also need social acceptance – and, in my view, there is plenty of room for rethinking. Specifically speaking for Vetter, we are actively engaged in this rethinking. In our project, for example, we implemented a pilot in production at the Langenargen site and tested two models – job sharing and full-time part-time.”

Portraitbild von zwei Mitarbeiterinnen

We’ve realized that we need more flexible solutions to make part-time management truly practical at different stages of our employees’ lives. So we’re working intensively on this topic and see it as an important part of our new business strategy.

Katharina Drees, Senior Manager in Organizational Development

And what might still be lacking in this area?

Ingrid: “What Katharina just said. We can all get even better at overcoming outdated role models.”

Katharina: “That's true, but I also think we're on a good path. A project like mine shows how important the issue has become in the company.”

At the event on July 12, well-known sociologist Uta Meier-Gräwe gave the keynote speech. What did you take away from that?

Katharina: “I've heard a lot of confirmation of the challenge I'm dedicated to here with Vetter with full conviction.”

Ingrid said: “I found it surprising how great the “Work & family” challenge is today, for example, when you compare the living wage on a gender basis and see how disadvantaged women are still, for example, when it comes to pensions.”

A final conclusion. What's next for you?

Ingrid said: “I'm looking forward to my second child and the next part-time because it's not really on trial anymore. We now know that it works.”

Katharina said: “I'm looking forward to moving forward with “Part-time managers” with Vetter and with a focus on the entire company, so stories like Ingrid's can become the norm for us.”

Thank you for your exciting insights!