Heads Up with Nicolay Merkt, Chief Customer Officer, GALERIA Karstadt Kaufhof

Nicolay Merkt is a highly experienced E-Commerce and Marketing Executive with a strength in profitable scaling B2C-business models. Currently, he serves as the Chief Customer Officer at the largest German department store chain GALERIA Karstadt Kaufhof. With over 16 years of experience, Nicolay has been actively involved in driving companies through the process of digital change and building high-performance teams.
He has held key positions in companies such as Deutsche Post DHL, Peek & Cloppenburg and Fashion ID, where he contributed to proven digital efforts and results.

He holds a degree in Law from the University of Cologne, where he completed his studies in Legal Sciences.


What does good leadership mean to you?
For me, good leadership means turning those affected into those involved and that no employee ever quits because of me.

What is the most important thing you have learned in your career so far?
Letting go, i.e. not wanting to do everything yourself, but delegating, trusting and just monitoring the results.

How did you get to where you are today? Did you approach your career in a strategic and planned way or was it more opportunistic?
Completely opportunistic. I started as a lawyer and became Chief Customer Officer of the largest German department store. It was definitely never planned that way.

Is there anything you wish you had known at the beginning of your career? And is there anything you would tell yourself at an earlier stage in your career?
I should have been more self-confident about work-life balance much earlier. For example, I didn’t take parental leave for either of my sons because my superiors at the time put pressure on me not to take parental leave. At that time, however, I (wrongly) did not have the self-confidence to take parental leave anyway.

What changes in your industry do you expect to see in the next two years and are you excited about them?
I think AI will massively change all industries in the next one to two years and I’m looking forward to it because I’m sure people will end up using it wisely.

What are your top three priorities for the next 12 months?
Understanding AI and learning relevant prompts, putting the customer even more at the centre of what I do and finally identifying a balanced and sustainable ratio of home office and team presence.

What fascinates you about your work?
Many of the tools, the processes, the job profiles and tasks that I deal with on a daily basis didn’t exist 20 years ago when I started and I love this continuous change.

As a leader, what skills are you constantly working on to stay on top of your game?
None in particular, but I try to improve in all dimensions of leadership.

What is your next big goal?
Finishing the New York Marathon

What is the best way for you to switch off in your free time?
When I travel, when I do sports and when I’m with my family.