Questionnaire “Nahaufnahme” with consultant Gerd Kerkhoff, who is constantly looking for his keys and mobile phone

The questionnaire is answered by Gerd Kerkhoff, founder and CEO of the Düsseldorf-based consultancy Kerkhoff Group with customers such as Warsteiner, Krone, Interlübke and Voith.

Could you sum up what your company does in one sentence?
In a nutshell, as a corporate consulting firm, we optimize companies’ operational earnings power, focusing on the key fields of supply chain, purchasing and production.

How do you start your working day?
I get started early: I check my emails, then go jogging at Lake Tegernsee. That helps me to clearly concentrate on the day’s tasks. 

How would you describe yourself as a boss?
My motto is simple: empower and guide employees. I don’t see myself as being in the classic boss role; instead, I view myself as a manager who empowers people. Leadership skills are expressed through being able to expand employees’ potential and enabling them to work independently. But in order to do this, the correct conditions have to be created and favourable foundations laid.

… and what would your employees have to say in response to that?
“… he doesn’t always manage.”
Tea or coffee?
Both. A cup of coffee in the morning, an espresso after lunch, and the rest of the day I drink fresh ginger tea.

What’s your nickname?
“Captain Kerk” – a play on the name of the Starship Enterprise’s commander who’s in charge of direction and navigation. It’s still fairly apt even today.

Do you have any quirks?
I’m forever hunting for my keys and mobile phone. To put it positively, looking for things could become my hobby.

What gets your back up?
People who come across as loud, arrogant and big-mouthed in their job. For my part, I’m regarded in the industry as someone who’s pragmatic, down-to-earth, gets things done and speaks clearly. I appreciate the same qualities in my counterparts.

… and what about you gets other people’s backs up?
The fact that I initially objectively, then often too rigorously, analyse human behaviours – regardless of emotional attachment or impact.

What would you like to do when you retire or if you were financially independent, no longer working in your company and had lots of time on your hands?
In my job, I’ve always been able to learn about great cities and countries – but in most cases I’m pushed for time. So I’m looking forward to travelling a lot with my wife Stefanie – with zero stress and no definite plans. We already know where we’re heading first: we’ll be travelling through South America, starting off in Santiago de Chile.

What do you value most about other people?
I’m a fan of down-to-earth, grounded and highly intellectual people who express their thoughts in a clear-cut and precise manner and communicate them succinctly using figurative language. In contrast, I don’t like unstructured and Denglish formulations.
What three things could you never do without?
Since the question refers to things, and I really like doing sports: my mountain bike, sail boat and skis.

If you could do someone else’s job for a day, what would that be?
I initially wanted to become a professional tennis player. So I would like to swap lives with Roger Federer for a day and dive into his life.

Gerd Kerkhoff prefers taking a literal approach to his “Nimm-2” sweets – he’s addicted to them, so they’re his go-to comfort food.

Author: Claudia Tödtmann
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