In our latest Inside Redbox, we talk to Kerstin Mueller, a Senior Project Manager based in London about life, work, photography…and table football.
What was life like before Redbox?
I grew up in Germany and after school studied Art and English. In 2003 I planned to go to London for three months as part of my degree course and I loved London so much that I just stayed. I was 20 at the time and here I am, 17 years later!
When I moved to London, I landed a job in a record shop. That was my adolescent dream, living my best life as if I was a protagonist in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity novel. After a couple of years I felt like I needed to go back to University and got a BA and MA in media and communications.
After uni, I was lucky enough to get a full scholarship for a PhD, which was a fantastic experience. I got to spend my time writing about my favourite TV show: The Wire. My research focused on urban space, the post-industrial city and social and racial inequalities as explored in popular film and television. It was fascinating. As part of the PhD I was teaching, and it was that experience that made me realise I craved something more practical, more hands-on. I put the PhD on hold and was offered a job at Redbox - they were looking for a German speaker to manage one of its clients.
This is actually my second stint at Redbox. I’ve been at Redbox for almost six years in total but took a three-year hiatus in between to extend my knowledge in other digital areas.
It has been a fantastic experience working with Redbox – they’ve always supported me and encouraged me to grow. And I like the culture and the fact that we have a truly global team. That’s why I wanted to return after my break.
Looking back, I believe my academic background offered me great, transferable skills. It taught me how to analyse complex requirements and documents, analytical thinking, the ability to research and absorb information. It has really helped me in my career path.
What is your role now and how did it come about?
I’m a Senior Project Manager at Redbox. I love the fact that you are involved in every aspect of the project from initial discovery to delivery. I like the holistic aspect to project management - it gives you the opportunity to work with internal teams, but also be client facing. I like the challenge of pragmatic and efficient project delivery, building client relationships and being an empathic team manager.
I’m juggling multiple projects at the same time - it’s fast-paced and very hands-on, which suits me. No day is ever the same, which keeps me on my toes.
What are the opportunities and challenges for Redbox right now?
It has been a really challenging year for everyone, but Covid has also created many opportunities, especially in ecommerce. Ecommerce, if anything, has become more important than ever, as people are at home more and shop online more. While some people have been hard hit by Covid financially, the flip side is that a good portion of people have been able to save money by not commuting to work or travelling abroad, and that money is often going to online retail. It's also interesting to see how new, perhaps older demographics are embracing online shopping more.
From online food supplies, to education tools, to independent bookshop sales going through the roof, the effect of Covid on ecommerce is unprecedented. Shopping behaviour is likely to change forever and this will present many opportunities for brands and retailers.
There is a real drive now for brands prioritising their online experience of fear of becoming obsolete on the high street. That’s one of the key takeaways from the last year.
It has also changed our relationships with clients. We’ve had to start new projects remotely and while it has been a challenge, I see it as a chance to do things differently and find new ways to connect.
Are there any work or life achievements that you are proud of?
I was really proud to be invited to the Queen’s Garden Party and visit Buckingham Palace on a few occasions as part of a previous job role.
At Redbox, one of my biggest achievements was the launch of the Screwfix Germany website in Germany, which was my first Redbox project. Screwfix didn’t exist in Germany at the time. But to see Screwfix open one of its stores in my hometown Koblenz and explain to my family that we built the website and POS for it was a great feeling, as they could finally understand what I was doing as a career.
What are your motivations in life - both inside and outside of work?
One of my biggest passions is photography. I adore street and documentary photography, which links my interests for art and urban space perfectly, and I spend most of my free time shooting or on my photography course. You can follow me on Instagram @hail2thestreet!
A selection of Kerstin's photography work
I also love travelling and I especially have a soft spot for Japan, Korea and Taiwan and have lots of friends there from uni. I’ve also started learning Korean - there’s a logic to the Hangul alphabet that’s fascinating and it’s kept me busy in lockdown.
I have also recently started a Redbox Book Club with another Redbox colleague, Natalie Janssis. We were talking about books all the time and then we put the idea out there and got a number of people interested in joining the club. It’s due to start in a few weeks. I love reading and I’m looking forward to getting everyone involved.
Lastly, I love table football! If you ask anyone at work, they’ll tell you that I am highly competitive at games. I used to go to a place in Shoreditch with lots of tables about four times a week. I’m also a big fan of ‘real’ football and a big Gooner, and quite addicted to the Redbox Fantasy Football League.
What does the future hold?
I feel Covid has changed things so much, it’s made me focus on the here and now. I probably would have given you a different answer a year ago, but for now I try to take each day as it comes. During the pandemic, I moved to Germany to be close to my family – they’re really important to me and I wanted to be near them. Let’s see what will be next.
For Redbox, there are lots of new opportunities with ecommerce. It’s an exciting time to be at Redbox and in the industry in general.
Where would you be if you had not followed this path?
I would probably still be in academia if I hadn’t moved into digital. But I don’t ever look back and think ‘what if?’ I am happy with the unconventional path I took and don’t regret anything. If I was young again and could choose one other thing, I might have pursued a career in photography.
Motto in Life?
Appreciate the little things and be kind. It sounds trite but it’s the closest I have to a motto.
Any advice you’d like to pass on?
Failure gets a bad reputation, but I think it’s one of the greatest blessings in disguise because there’s always a takeaway or a lesson to be learned. You shouldn’t be afraid to fail. There’s a quote I like by Samuel Beckett that says: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” I think it really encapsulates how I feel.