Role Switch: From Purchasing to Sales


A return from professional to beginner inside your company: Keno Ahlrichs has successfully made a cross-functional move at tesa.

Keno Ahlrichs assures that he feels ‘at home’ at the adhesive specialist tesa, which is partly due to his work as a Key Account Manager within the Automotive business unit. Through a so-called cross-functional move, the 36-year-old switched from purchaser to seller. “I wanted to get closer to our products and customers. Fortunately, at tesa we have a culture that encourages such moves,” says Ahlrichs. He previously worked in strategic purchasing for seven years – two as a coordinator for technical systems at his current employer tesa, five at Lufthansa Technik. At the beginning of 2017, he left his job at the Norderstedt Headquarter to take over a mobile position in sales. After all, his superiors had assured him over the years that he’s a great purchaser but could certainly also be very successful in sales.

Keno Ahlrichs has been working at tesa SE since 2014: Initially in strategic purchasing, and since 2017 in operational sales as a Key Account Manager for Automotive. The 36-year-old business graduate lives in Osnabrück and from there supports tesa customers in the automotive supply industry in the regions of South Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Hesse. After joining tesa, he launched the initiative ‘tesa Young Connection’. It offers new employees many opportunities to network inside and outside tesa during their first three years at the company.

Keno Ahlrichs

Great dynamics in the automotive sector

Ahlrichs’ new ‘home base’ as a sales representative is his birthplace Osnabrück, where he also began studying business administration in 2004. As a Key Account Manager, he takes care of customer service and acquisition at suppliers to the automotive industry, always on the go in Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Hesse. “There is a great dynamic in the automotive industry. We strive to react very quickly and agile to customer requests, with new product ideas or holistic application concepts.” To find the best solutions for customers, Ahlrichs regularly associates with his tesa colleagues from Research & Development, the BU Automotive, and the production plants.

1000 and more adhesive products and system solutions are offered by tesa in the automotive sector. Customers may choose among different product formats, particularly adhesive rolls or customized adhesive die-cut parts.

A career boost



“As a non-specialist, you must be eager for fresh knowledge. Without this willingness to understand the customers and the technical matter, nothing works,” emphasizes Ahlrichs and admits that he initially underestimated the technical gap: “I thought I had already possessed 80 percent of prior knowledge and would have to acquire only 20 percent new knowledge – however, it was the other way round.” But that’s what motivated him even more, thus, the sidestep in the corporate hierarchy offered him a career boost instead of a career bump. “Enjoying the task has priority over hierarchy,” says the successful sales representative with conviction.

Enjoying the task has priority over hierarchy.
Keno Ahlrichs

Key Account Manager Automotive

Don’t be afraid to once again be a beginner

From good experience, Ahlrichs advises anyone who wants to try out something similar in a new field: “Speak to supervisors and the HR department in good time, look for offers that match your own strengths and be patient.” It could also be helpful to talk already in advance to colleagues from the desired area and look over their shoulders. Ahlrichs’ most important message: “Don’t be afraid to once again be a beginner!” He continues to do so and is already flirting with new tasks at tesa. “A job abroad is a prime career target, thus, in the medium term I’m also open to other areas.” An international move in the globally branched group would also suit Keno Ahlrichs’ hobbies, sports, travel, and cooking.

Faces and Stories

tesa offers not only vertical but also horizontal career paths. Who are the employees that have successfully moved forward on alternative paths? What motivated them? What tips do they have for others? These and other questions will be answered in an article series on tesa.insights. In loose sequence, we’ll portray protagonists from the diverse job world at tesa. General information about tesa as an employer: