Real Hedoines | Interviews With Hedoines | Anke Drewicke
Marketing Director of Peloton Interactive Germany talks confidence and taking on challenges – Anke Drewicke
Always up for a challenge – we talk to Anke Drewicke about starting a brand new role and building a team from scratch – all during a pandemic
Living through a global pandemic has been a challenge – that’s something we can all probably agree on. But it has also been an incredible lesson in adaptability, and how we exercise has been a huge part of that. Finding the motivation, community and tools to exercise effectively at home isn’t easy – but Peloton have it down to an art. And while already established in America, it was very much a start up business that Anke Drewicke, the Marketing Director, joined at Peloton Interactive Germany.
Mother of two and builder of a team that is now 7 people strong, we’re keen to find out how she navigated the challenges of the past year or so and what keeps her so very positive.
Tell us a bit about your career and how you came to your role at Peloton?
I have a marketing background and I started at Jung Von Matt (an advertising agency) in Germany where I stayed for nearly 7 years before I switched to the client side. I went over to Vodafone and worked as their campaign manager for 9 years. In the meantime I became a mother to two children but when I was returning to work after my second child, I took the role at Peloton. I’ve been there for about 18 months and it still feels new but also so much has happened that it feels like it's been a long time, too!
What attracted you to the role?
I love innovation and the challenge that it gives you, so that’s a major part of what attracted me to this role. But also all of the people that I met at Peloton were lovely and smiley (laughs). That makes a difference. I started in September 2019 and we already launched in Germany in November. People didn’t really know Peloton at that point so it was this risk and challenge that excited me.
I love innovation and the challenge that it gives you.
So how big was the team at that point?
Me, myself and I for marketing! (laughs) It was a proper startup experience and, in retrospect, I often wonder how I did it. My husband and I had to switch roles really. It was my first full-time role after a number of years of working part-time around the children and we were in lockdown so he had to take on more of the childcare.
We now have 10 people in Marketing & PR. It’s great to have built the team myself – it’s a different feeling. It was really nice meeting them in person for the first time after lockdown, too, as all of the recruiting and then working together was done remotely so it was like meeting your family for the first time (laughs). When you recruit remotely, you never know if the dynamic is going to work but it actually does so I’m really happy about that.
How would you describe the team culture?
In my career, I’ve mostly worked with German-based teams but at Peloton, it’s much more diverse. It’s much more collaborative than other places I’ve worked and I really had to learn to be more open to that.
The other thing is that during lockdown there was much more of a communication parity. Normally there are different teams sitting in different offices so there are different dynamics going on. But lockdown meant that we could all only communicate online which changed those dynamics for the better I think.
We’re a huge company on the one hand (in the US) but we’re also a startup in Germany. I already miss the beginning when it was only a handful of people and you only needed to speak to one person to make a decision rather than big meetings to make any decisions. What really helps with making decisions quickly, though, is the connection you have with people right from the beginning, so that's a real positive when you’ve been there from the start. You know who you can rely on.
You determine your culture from the beginning and in that first year which is a great thing to be part of. There are members of the team that are actually friends of mine now which is really lovely. You should never lose that.
You determine your culture from the beginning and in that first year which is a great thing to be part of.
Where other businesses may have suffered, Peloton became a bit of a pandemic obsession – having started your role at the beginning of the pandemic, what has it been like to work on such a brand?
It’s really exciting but it can be overwhelming. When it came to delivery, we had challenges like we’d never seen before. It meant our first year wasn’t a ‘normal’ one. So my reference points are different. Usually, you use the first year for testing, structure, process etc. But it hasn’t been a normal year so it was hard to create those reference points and we’re trying to create those now really.
Also, the company doubled in size in the past year which meant quite a culture shift. We have to keep reminding ourselves of where we’re coming from and what our USP and goals are. But it’s harder to do that, the bigger you get.
What, in your opinion, makes a brand successful?
I think it’s about quality. We put our members first and are very inclusive, and then we make sure we have a really good product. Peloton is a combination of hardware, content, community and features and each of those elements have to work really well for it to remain successful. Everything has to be the best quality as, even if one element isn’t, it would fall apart.
If you have a clear meaning and a clear ‘why’ then you don’t have to add anything to that.
What makes your community loyal to Peloton?
High quality and functionality. I’m quite confident that we are in a good place against emerging competitors because of this. I know how much effort goes into every element – from the instructors to the music. That’s something I think is really hard to copy.
I think the community will follow you if you provide the quality they can trust in. We had a community event recently and people came from all over the world and the energy in the room was just incredible – I couldn’t believe it. Everyone talked about the instructors as their heroes and that’s because we deliver on the quality.
The community give each other tips etc and support one another – there’s a feeling of belonging even though you’re on your bike at home on your own. You cry and you sweat together (laughs). I wasn’t into spinning before but it’s really effective and efficient and this sense of community is really special.
I see you have a Peloton (of course!), so what is your routine with it?
I change it a bit because the routine with family changes so often. My kids start school and kindergarten early in the morning so if I’m lucky I can do an early morning class, or I’ll try to fit one into my working day somehow but that’s harder. It’s harder to tear yourself away from your desk (ha!). And later at night is pretty good too as I can actually do it with the kids around. I do 45 or 60-minute sessions. I’m 6ft so I need longer classes – the 15 or 20 minute sessions don’t really cut it for me but they’re great for people who want a quick workout.
Have you always been into fitness?
Fitness has always helped me during challenging times. For example when my first child was born, all of a sudden I was at home with a child all the time with a lack of sleep and all the other things that a baby brings, and it was really overwhelming. But getting to fitness classes that I could take my baby to was really helpful. It helped me get back to life and get back into my body. I think fitness has always been as much about my mental state as my physical state. I need to exercise regularly to let steam off and to feel good.
How do you unwind?
Fitness and also being with my family – focusing on my children. I also have friends who are artists and sitting and speaking to them and talking about things completely different to my job really helps me. It’s those moments and those when I’m on my bike where ideas start flowing.
What do you think makes you a real Hedoine?
I would say I’m quite conscious of myself and very resilient. I know what I’m good at and what I’m not. I’m quite direct and confident to be myself every day which I think is really important. It makes me a much happier person and so I always want to have fun. I don’t spend my time doing things that don’t make me happy.
You can keep up with Anke Drewicke on LinkedIn or Instagram. While you’re here, share this article with someone who you think it might inspire or sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know when the next Real Hedoine lands on the blog.