5 Lessons for Stepping Out of Your Career Comfort Zone

June 7, 2021
Stephanie Hubner
Regional Manager
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Stephanie Hubner has been an employee of GetYourGuide for eight and a half years. She started her journey here as a destination manager in Berlin, then to Sydney as a regional manager for Australia & New Zealand, then back to the German capital as regional manager covering the Berlin and Amsterdam offices.

In 2020, Stephanie was given the opportunity to lead both the Berlin Sales and Content teams — in the middle of the pandemic. She shares why she accepted the challenge, her top five learnings, and why stepping out of her comfort zone was a life-changing experience.  


Due to extraordinary circumstances in 2020, I worked as the regional manager for the Sales teams in Berlin and Amsterdam while also serving as the interim Content Management team lead. I was suddenly managing 21 direct reports — up from the 11 I was managing before, across two completely different functions in our Supply department.

I found myself in this position as the pandemic had suddenly hit, which resulted in a hiring freeze, whilst at the same time, the previous Content Management manager left the company. These six months occurred in a period of uncertainty in the world and the company. Not to mention, this meant I was suddenly leading two teams that functioned completely differently.

The other path, terrifying — think overgrown, dark, scary path with spiders — terrifying. I had never worked in the content world before.

Sales was all about growing our product portfolio, negotiating strategic deals, and overcoming the many hurdles COVID-19 was throwing at our suppliers and us. Content Management was all about ensuring that we had the best quality products on our shelves whilst also supporting the many strategic initiatives throughout the company.

COVID-19 greatly impacted both of these teams and their tasks.

In the summer of 2020, when rules had been briefly relaxed in Berlin, I was sitting with the Content Management team having a glass of wine at a terrace bar. A team member asked me, "Why on earth would you ever say yes to this?" She was referring to taking on two teams during a pandemic.

In all honesty, I had to pause and even question myself. However, the answer became clear and became even more apparent during and after the interim period finished.


When my manager, Mathis Boldt, VP Global Sales & Supply, first asked me if I would be open to stepping up and supporting Content Management while still fulfilling my role as regional manager, I remember coming away from the call in shock. I remember immediately seeing two distinct paths ahead. One would be remaining on the regional manager path, helping my Sales team succeed throughout the months of Kurzarbeit (short-time work) and working from home. A challenging yet familiar thought.

The other path, terrifying — think overgrown, dark, scary path with spiders — terrifying. I had never worked in the content world before. I did not know the team very well, and it was incredibly daunting, especially thinking of how I would handle managing two teams at once, all via Zoom.

So, naturally, I said yes.

This was an opportunity to step far outside my comfort zone — into another realm, learn a hell of a lot, support a team in need, and possibly not fail.

I took the view that asking for advice does not mean you are incapable. It means you care enough that you want to level up your skills and understanding to that next level — fast.

Looking back, the days and weeks managing both teams were highly challenging yet highly rewarding. In one day, I would have between five to six sales-related meetings and five to six content-related meetings.

Days would consist of one-on-ones supply strategy alignments, attraction pitches, objective and key result (OKR) discussions, content resource restructuring, product inventory check-ins, and process updates. There were meetings with teams from all over the company, from Catalog to Product to Localization to Category Management to Supply Tools.

To add to this, due to COVID-19, we had reduced our freelancer base in our Content team. This meant the work that 40 freelancers had previously done was incorporated into the work of 10 team members, all working on reduced hours. It was wild.

That being said, I learned more than ever before during that period, and I am so grateful for the opportunity and for the new relationships I made along the way.

Working in a different part of the company opens you up to so many ways of viewing things, doing things, and thinking about things. I was hardcore thrown into the deep end and forced to find new ways to work and think while simultaneously implementing change.

My five key learnings during this time which I would love to pass on:

1. Over-communicate to remove assumptions, be transparent, and be vulnerable.

In the first weeks of taking on the Content Management team, I felt like some team members were holding back. As the interim manager, I quickly realized that one could assume that I would only give a small part of my time and energy to their team. So, why should they invest their energy back in me? Makes sense. I quickly removed those assumptions and made it explicit that I would be leaning in and giving 100% to both teams. The interim title didn't matter. Things changed after that.

Within my sales team, I had received feedback on a previous project to be more transparent and vulnerable. I endeavored this time to include the team in my journey of managing two teams as much as possible.

I was honest about the wins, challenges, and learnings I experienced throughout the entire time. This created a lot of empathy and understanding within the team, and as a result, we even grew closer.

2. Don't try and be anyone but yourself

When I joined the Content team, I promised to be unapologetically myself from the start. I knew that I was no content expert, and I shouldn't go into the team trying to be one. That would not be genuine, and the team would feel it. Instead, I made sure to deliver on all aspects I knew I could provide the most value.

At the time, this was all about being a great leader and guiding the team through many changes. It was about listening, being supportive, empathetic, removing blockers, and managing workload. The team members were the content experts, and my job was to let them shine while trying to stay true to my authentic self and strengths.

3. Surround yourself with great people

From the start, I made sure to approach this opportunity with a learning mindset. I left my ego at the door and sought the opinions and advice of various great leaders within the company. Mathis, my manager, gave me all the trust in the world to manage my time between both teams; however, he was always available to offer support when I asked.

From the start, I had a very open and honest dialogue with Patrick Mueller, director of Supply, which meant we could run fast from day one. I also had regular check-ins with Julia Randow, Director of APAC, and Luigi D'Angelo, previously head of in-destination marketing, who gave me alternative perspectives on handling and maneuvering through situations.

I took the view that asking for advice does not mean you are incapable. It means you care enough that you want to level up your skills and understanding to that next level — fast.

4. It is a skill to be able to work and think really fast. Own it.

One of the most overwhelming parts of working across two teams was the speed at which I had to learn to think and make decisions. Having back-to-back meetings the entire day meant having to constantly think on my feet and compartmentalize the previous discussion as I jumped into the next. I learned to utilize my time in the best way to cater to this. Some things I did:

  • Took detailed notes in every meeting
  • Left all follow-ups and admin-related tasks until the end of the day (as they just take time and clutter the mind).
  • Wrote to-dos morning and night as not to forget anything and time blocked religiously.

This meant my working day was set up for success to purely focus on strategic matters with 0 admin work slowing me down or building up.

5. Double down on your health

I never understood until last year that prioritizing my health was key to success in my job. I always knew it was necessary but never saw it as critical. In the past, when work would get busy, my running routine would get thrown out the window, I would eat worse, and I would end up feeling more lethargic.

I learned last year that unless I put myself first and continued to exercise and eat healthy, even when I felt tired, it would not be possible to maintain the level of output required. Exercise gives energy. It does not take it. It also gives mental clarity and strength. These things are essential when you have 20 things on your to-do list ahead of you in the day.

It’s been six months since this journey started, and reflecting on this time is a gratifying experience. I would urge anyone who is given the opportunity to jump (or be thrown) in the deep end to take it. There is nothing quite like being stretched outside your comfort zone to show you what you are capable of.

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