Episode 15: Heike Neumann on Leading Change when Everything is Changing

Who knew meeting someone at a ski lake wearing the same T-shirt that said, “Women who behave rarely make history,” would lead to a long, rich friendship. In the 15th episode of the Creative Spirits Unleashed Podcast, I’m speaking with Heike Neumann, Marketing Vice President for Oracle Corporation.  

In her more than 25 years of experience working in the US and EMEA to market global B2B (Business to Business) tech brands, she has launched marketing strategies in 23 countries. She is passionate about global markets, developing strategies, implementing those, and following through to deliver desired business outcomes with a “get things done” attitude. Her motto in business is, “It needs to be reliable, repeatable, and scalable.”  

In her private life, she is a passionate water skier and a triathlete. This is a conversation I’ve been waiting to have for a while as we often share our stories about the corporate world. Heike strikes a unique balance between her no-nonsense yet compassionate approach to solving problems.

Heike and I frequently talk about the challenges of leading change and especially dealing with the changes we didn’t choose. For example, you will hear in this episode about the year she had 7 different managers. That’s a lot of change and uncertainty. 

She also calls out a number of the balancing acts she deals with regularly – like managing up and managing down, speaking your mind and doing it in a way that keeps you in good standing and so much more.  

This episode is full of practical ideas for handling large, complex operations and strategic projects.   

Of course, also share this episode with your colleagues and friends. I hope you enjoy this episode with Heike Neumann. 

Key Topics:

  • A friendship was born from a T-shirt we happen to be wearing on the same day saying, “Women who behave rarely make history.” 
  • As someone who is constantly changing and reinventing herself, Heike goes into how she manages change, and it comes down to how she reacts. 
  • Heike allows herself the humanity of her first reaction, and then takes a step back to see how to respond to situations that are thrown at her. 
  • Having worked virtually with her team, Covid has changed the dynamics of Heike’s team by now having many team members with kids at home and having to homeschool while continuing to have a full-time job. 
  • Sometimes there are things that are out of your control, and how do you adapt to those situations? 
  • Whether we like to admit it or not, what goes on outside your professional life, impacts your professional life. Heike believes it’s better to be open and honest with what is going on at home so coworkers can have more empathy and understanding, including when we are having a grumpy day. 
  • How do we effectively manage Up and Down on teams? 
  • The most important thing about change is understanding the goal of the change. 
  • As leaders, there is a balancing act of being open, but not being able to share privileged information, and still having to get your team on board without having all the data. 
  • Heike tells us how she finds that balance of being open without delivering data she is not free to share 
  • Encourage people to ask, “What is the Why.” 
  • Heike being originally from Germany and here in the United States under a work visa made it a challenge to not find herself in the fear mindset of having to do whatever the company wanted for the sake of a paycheck and staying employed by them. 
  • Not having a lot of options when things got tough, Heike found herself being able to stick through changes she may have otherwise quit, which in turn made her a stronger person and leader.   
  • How do you show up as a strong leader and doing right by the company and not allowing the fear to be in control? 
  • How do you get your message to the people who want it in today’s society where everyone is trying to get their messages heard? 
  • What happens when there is breakdown between different departments in the same organization? 
  • Are these software apps listening to all our conversations for marketing purposes? 
  • What are the impacts of micromanaging? 
  • How do you give the level and type of management an individual needs? 
  • What are the tools to handle when we are being micromanaged and we don’t like it? 
  • How do you keep everyone in alignment with priorities? 
  • Final Words of Wisdom: If change is thrown at you, ask what the goal is and what is the why, so you can support it better. And realize, you are not the only one having to go through the change.  

Contact information: 

Twitter: @globalheike