In the spotlight

Alexa 
von Bismarck

“Often in Germany, the work culture can be very hierarchical, and seniority is everything, but Adyen isn’t like that,” says Alexa von Bismarck, Adyen’s Country Manager - Germany. “We’re all equally valued, which makes us more of a team. We are all empowered to make an impact.”

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In a few short years, Alexa von Bismarck has gone from one-woman show to managing two dozen employees as head of Adyen’s Berlin office. Next up: a personal milestone, as she prepares to welcome her first child.

Alexa first joined Adyen in 2013 as an Account Manager in Berlin, although she visits Amsterdam often and says she loves the “special energy” of the headquarters. In Berlin, Alexa was technically the first person working at Adyen’s local office — somewhat of a “one-woman show” for her first six months with the company. The Berlin team has since expanded to more than 20 employees and is still growing. “It’s been quite an amazing ride, now that I think about it,” she says.

Having been promoted to Country Manager – Germany on May 1, 2018, Alexa works to drive strategy, while maximizing individual strengths and focusing on open communication. She and the team are preparing German customers for growth and consulting them in their payments strategy as key drivers of success. The journey to this stage in her career has been filled with challenges, successes and constant learning.

“My first job was for an old school investment fund, where I felt that as a junior and the only female in the team, I would have wanted to have more of an impactful role,” Alexa recalls. “While I did learn some key lessons, I should have realized sooner that it wasn’t right for me.”

Alexa’s next big milestone is quickly approaching: she’s eight months pregnant with her first child and will shortly be heading on maternity leave. Though she admits the timing may never be perfectly aligned with the demands of work, she says that with a strong support network and the right attitude within a company, anything is possible.

“Adyen has been so amazing and I’m so grateful,” Alexa says. “It’s a very modern company this way, and they support us through the normal happenings of life. It’s not promoted or made a big deal of externally, it’s just normal.”

Keep reading and get to know more about Alexa.

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What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Meeting friends at the office — who happen to be colleagues, too. We’re doing great stuff together, and there’s a genuine joy of coming to work. Luckily my commute is only 15 minutes door to door, because I like to sleep as long as I can … especially now that I’m pregnant.

How would you describe your day job to a child?

We make sure our customers can earn money and don’t have to worry about how they get it. Together with a team of colleagues, we also make sure our Adyen customers enjoy and have fun working with us. We solve problems and build relationships.

How did it come about that you oversee the Adyen office in Germany? 

The German market has always been big for Adyen, and at one point the organization realized it needed someone on the ground here. That role was originally overseen by Volker Steinle, but now that he’s just left to move to our U.S. office, I was asked to step into the vacant position. The team is now 20 people, and we have a great vibe and amazing energy. It’s been incredible to see the growth of this market, while surrounded by such smart people and learning from great leaders (a special thanks to Volker, Sam Halse and Tim van Diest).

What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?

There’s no such thing as a typical day! One day, for example, I could be brainstorming with our Sales team over what is needed to efficiently onboard our next big merchant, while the next day we could be working together on defining new features to grow more business for existing merchants with our work streams. On another day, I might be busy interviewing new candidates for open positions. But no matter the day, it’s always interesting. 

What three words would you use to describe Adyen? “Fast. Cool. Empowering.” 

Where do you see potential for additional gains in your market?

Here in Berlin, we’re considering a greater focus on social responsibility. It’s not a change, per se, but an additional opportunity.

Do you think you chose this role, or the role chose you?

Both. It was a surprise when I was offered this job — it’s a big challenge, and I needed to grow into it, but I wasn’t afraid to take it on. It’s a great opportunity.

“I didn’t plan for this, because I don’t have a career plan and no ‘check boxes’ to tick. I enjoy what I’m doing and I’m learning all the time.”

What is your biggest achievement to date — personal or professional?

Running a marathon and earning my private pilot’s license are both at the top of my list, but my biggest achievement is that I’m happy where I am — right here, right now. I feel like I’m in the right place.

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“When I’m looking for advice on the job, we have many amazing people at Adyen who are role models to me. When speaking to people I always think, ‘This is something cool they’ve done, how can I learn from them? I’m always looking for a sparring partner.”

What’s your most memorable “facepalm” moment?

When I’d just left university, I had an interview at a German airline company. They asked why I wanted to go for the traineeship and not become a commercial pilot. I said, “Some pilots can be on auto-pilot, and that’s not the right job for me.” They didn’t realize I was joking — and obviously I didn’t get a second interview.

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?

I’m actually not a big fan of the concept of single mentors. There are so many people in different parts of your life who are so inspiring and whose wisdom — or way of doing things — I can learn from.

If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?

A heart surgeon, because of the impact they have, and the responsibility and skills required – and the technically challenging side of it. Or a film director, shooting the next hyped Netflix series.

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