Simon Harrsen began his career at CHG-MERIDIAN as a sales trainee. Today, almost four years later, he is Vice President of Sales in Mexico. A home-grown success story.

Mr. Harrsen, from trainee to Vice President of Sales for Mexico in just over four years – you have to tell us how you did it!

Harrsen: (laughs) In one sentence? CHG-MERIDIAN gave me the best possible start! When I started the TRAILS sales trainee program in October 2014, I was given the opportunity to work in parallel as an assistant to the managing director of our industry division. This meant that I was heavily involved in strategic matters for several months while also benefiting from the more systematic introduction to sales offered by the trainee program. But above all, I switched into top gear right from the start, played an active role in business development, and built up my own portfolio. At the beginning of 2016, it was nearly time for me to go on my international assignment. That proved decisive.

Unlike most other trainees, you completed your training outside Europe. How did you end up in Mexico?

Harrsen: Mexico kept coming up in discussions with the sales managers. We had been getting more and more inquiries from German companies that were investing in Mexico and we were – and still are – the only German technology manager with a presence in the country. It sounded like a winning combination to me and so I made my case to be allowed to go to Mexico. When the Board of Management gave the go-ahead, I focused my business development work on Mexico until my departure, contacted any existing German customers that had Mexican subsidiaries, and learned Spanish.

So did Mexico really prove to be a sleeping giant in terms of sales potential?

Harrsen: Yes, absolutely. In my first three months there, we won new projects, including at big-ticket German companies. And the great thing about it was that management didn’t care that these ideas ‘only’ came from a trainee. When I got a lead, I just took the initiative and worked out a plan. If it was good, it was accepted. I think that says a lot about our Company, its culture, and its response to innovation. Shortly afterwards, the Board of Management extended my stay for two more years, and within 24 months we went on to record a tenfold increase in new business with German companies operating in Mexico.

An achievement that automatically earmarked you for the role of Vice President of Sales last year?

Harrsen: (laughs) No, that was by no means a given. Here, too, I took the initiative and fleshed out my business plan for Mexico. I wanted to identify further opportunities for growth as I firmly believe that there is still a lot of potential for transplanting our European business model here. We need to focus on international customers, help them to digitalize their processes, and expand our service portfolio. Our international group gives us a huge advantage here. During the selection process, in which I was competing against other candidates, I presented this overall picture along with my ideas. In the end, the Board of Management decided to put their faith in me.

It sounds as if you were in no hurry to leave Mexico!

Harrsen: That’s right. I’m now committed to staying here for a number of years. I’ve also settled in very well outside of work, and I get on great with my colleagues. This is a huge opportunity for me and for the Company that I don’t want to miss out on! I can’t wait to get started.


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