Editor’s Note: In mid-2021, Aptos shifted to a territory-based organizational structure to provide more flexibility and cohesion within each territory we serve. We now have general managers in place across the Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific. This Q&A series introduces readers to each of our regional business leaders. In this post, we spotlight Thilo Freund, general manager EMEA.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself. What three words best describe you?
That’s easy. I have a friend called “Ali.” He wakes up with me every morning and he accompanies me throughout the day. Ali stands for authenticity, loyalty and integrity. I am a firm believer in “Say what you think, do what you say and be what you do.” I try to follow that in my private life as much as in my business life.
Q: When did you join Aptos and what are your responsibilities?
Pretty recently, on August 3. As the general manager for EMEA, I am the first salesperson and I am the first customer care person, part of a great team in Europe. My objective is to help our customers make their customers happy.
Q: What interested you in joining Aptos?
The people, the strategy and being allowed to be part of a new chapter in Aptos’ story are what drew me to the company. I have been in software most of my life, primarily working for American software companies.
For the past 15 years, I’ve focused on retail. Before I joined, my perception of Aptos was that it is an organization that allows people to make meaningful contributions in an environment where colleagues have a strong measure of freedom and an admirable work ethic. And you know what? It is just like that working at Aptos.
Q: What is your favorite part of your role?
My favorite part of the role is meeting new customers and colleagues, as each person you meet allows you to share experiences and grow. With an opportunity to hear fresh perspectives and learn something new every day, this allows an individual to constantly evolve – which, for me, is a key purpose of life.
Q: How do you like to spend your personal time?
I like sports, so I play football and enjoy running and hiking. I crossed the Alps by hiking, walking from Germany to Italy, just before joining Aptos. Also, when COVID-19 regulations allow, I love going to the theater with my wife. We actually used to go pretty regularly before the pandemic. I also like reading and eating.
Q: Can you tell us a fun or interesting fact about you?
An interesting fact about me is that, while I was born in Germany, the first three years of my life, I lived in Atlanta. Aptos is headquartered in Atlanta, which is quite a coincidence.
Q: You are advancing Aptos’ growth strategy in EMEA. Can you tell us why the region is strategic to Aptos and why you’re excited about leading the team in this initiative?
The region is strategic to Aptos because EMEA represents a central piece of the global economy, with almost every multinational retailer being represented here. Also, given the diversity of the region, EMEA is certainly a font of new ideas and innovation; these are critical inputs into the overall strategy and direction of Aptos. Like the retail industry it serves, Aptos is entering into an extremely dynamic era. Being part of that, and helping shape the future of retail technology in Europe, is extremely exciting.
Q: How do you think that retailing in EMEA will transform as a result of COVID-19?
COVID-19 has accelerated a number of ongoing trends. We can observe the growth of e-commerce, while brick-and-mortar stores become more specialized. Retailers are working to achieve more integration of all touchpoints and in general of all processes within the organization, starting from planning and supplying, all the way to customer contacts and delivery.
Q: Do you see Aptos playing a role in retailers’ transformations?
We are certainly playing a role, thanks to the history and experience we have in retail. We are a very dynamic global tech organization; we understand the customer and we are able to address a number of the challenges that the changes in the retail industry evoke.
Q: What are your goals for FY22, which started on October 1?
My goals are to build upon and grow the great team we have in place; revitalize our relationships with customers, shifting from the reactive state we’ve been in helping them to manage through the crisis to a more strategic, forward-looking focus on innovation and differentiation; and win new customers in Europe.
Q: How do you see Aptos evolving in the next three to five years, and how do you see yourself helping to lead that change in EMEA?
Aptos will continue to evolve by playing a more consultative role with our customers. Our employees live and breathe retail. We want to harness their expertise to the full advantage of our customers. I see Aptos becoming the No. 1 partner retailers go to for advice at a strategic level and for perspective on what retail will look like in the future. I think that building structured processes to achieve this, with clear performance indicators, is where I can be part of this evolution in EMEA.
Q: What does Aptos’ motto, “Every customer. Every colleague. Every day.” mean to you?
I like this motto a lot. It means we must never forget who we are here to serve (our focus is the customer) and that we can only be successful if we work as one team. We have to be passionate about the entire environment that we interact in on a daily basis. I love working with customers and colleagues and the feeling of being part of a great team.
If you enjoyed this Q&A and would like to continue the conversation with Thilo, connect with him on LinkedIn.