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Courage to change

Courage to change

Reading time for this article: 8 minutes

Florian Oberkofler's career started in his parents' confectionery and led him to BSH to become the Head of Business to Consumer for small Home Appliances in Germany. How did he take on this exciting career path? In an interview, he tells us why his professions are not as different as they seem at first glance, about the courage to change and what benefits come from his varied experiences.

At first glance, the work in the confectionery and at BSH seem completely different. But is there anything that connects the two professions?

Well, first and foremost: cooking and baking, of course. This is still one of my passions. We also had ovens and dough mixers in the confectioner’s shop. Now everything is just one size smaller.

How did you come to switch from the pastry business to BSH?

I would call it fate. Due to EU regulations, it was unfortunately not possible for us to keep the business going. This fate hit many medium-sized companies at that time. The EU has learned from this, but for us it was too late. In addition to other companies with a focus on food processing, I applied for a job at BSH. Unlike others, I was able to start here almost immediately, and the corporate culture was already very appealing to me at the time. I guess it was just meant to be.

How did you get started at BSH?

I was already able to gain a lot of experience in my parents' company. My father was the absolute expert in production, I was more the creative one and got involved early on. I designed bus advertisements, visited the stores, and coordinated the store layout and furnishings with my mother, trained salespeople and planned openings of new stores – "visitor flow analyses" is what they would call it today. After a short excursion into the theoretical world of business studies, I quickly decided to return to the working environment. Industrial business management was a wonderful mix and BSH was the ideal employer with the opportunity to apply learned knowledge directly in the specialist departments, gain a lot of practical experience and get to know the company at the same time.

Which milestones were particularly important to you on your way? 

I often had the opportunity to take on interesting tasks, but I always remember the first PowerPoint document I could prepare for a CEO presentation for our oil cooker. The discussions with the then Consumer Products Division Manager about production volumes – or the opening of the first Bosch Store in Vienna, and the creation of the marketing concept for the Cookit in Germany, which I could help to shape. Those were real highlights from my point of view.

How does your former work in the confectionery help you in what you do today?

Well, the Cookit is a big pillar in the direct business with the end consumer, and it is still an enormous advantage to understand what recipe development, recipe design and culinary arts means to the consumer. Also, the business questions: "What moves our consumer? What types of consumers are there and what opportunities does that present for our business?" These questions have been with me all my life and have always fascinated me.

What helped you with the professional reorientation?

I would not call it a reorientation, but more of an evolution. I have always remained true to myself and have gladly accepted new challenges. Today it's still about questions like: Where do I reach the consumer, what do they expect from us, how could I inspire them and make them a fan? Back then, it was all about the ready-made yeast plait or the wholemeal bread, today it's all about that again, but today the consumer make the dough themselves in the Cookit and bake the fresh bread in the Bosch Series 8 oven, because the steam function is ideal here. 

Knowing the consumer's expectations regarding the result, shaping the consumer paths and guiding them are helpful prerequisites for successfully developing the end consumer business, as well. It's always about understanding the consumers and their journey as best as possible.

How do you think companies can support employees who want to move into new areas of activity?

Transparency, trust, and the opportunity to take on new tasks are important. Both sides have a certain responsibility: the company in creating opportunities that are accessible to all, but also the employee themselves must seize the opportunity. Equally significant is the dialogue, the exchange must be sought. The effort of both sides to constantly improve and the courage to break new ground together then automatically leads to a win-win situation.

What would you recommend to people who work in craft professions and are thinking about taking a completely new career direction – and would like to work at a company like BSH, for example?

First, you should not be afraid of change. But it should also always be a well-thought-out decision. A skilled trade is something wonderful and I love to see how small and medium-sized businesses are more in demand again than ever before due to the focus on topics such as healthy and sustainable nutrition, for example. I'm still in contact with some of them and you can feel how the consumers are increasingly looking for such experts. But if you take the plunge, you can't dwell on it, but continue to see the opportunity in it to develop yourself. After a few years, the path can also lead back to the trade, and then you can use what you've learned. For example, developing the best social media strategy in the German confectionery industry.

Baking is enjoying great popularity during the pandemic. What is it about bread baking in particular (keyword: sourdough) or baking in general that is so appealing to many people, especially at the current time?

I can only describe how I feel. You see how a dough is created from a wide variety of ingredients, you enjoy the delicious smell from the oven and you already look forward for its great taste. Anyone who has recently bitten into a homemade loaf of bread, perhaps even from self-prepared sourdough, knows what I mean. And then you get creative, try something new and realize that it works. That's just a lot of fun. Good things are sometimes closer than you think, and that is something that may have become clearer to us again. And if we are able to support them with products like the Cookit or the Series 8 oven, that's the ideal outcome and receiving this feedback directly is really something special.


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BSH all over the world.

BSH Hausgeräte GmbH, with a total turnover of some EUR 15.6 billion and 62,000 employees in 2022, is a global leader in the home appliance industry. The company’s brand portfolio includes eleven well-known appliance brands like Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau and Neff as well as the ecosystem brand Home Connect and service brands like Kitchen Stories. BSH produces at 40 factories and is represented in some 50 countries. BSH is a Bosch Group company.