Walter Knoll is gearing up for the future, as Mara Benz, the daughter of CEO Markus Benz, steps into a pivotal role within the management team of this deeply- rooted family-owned company. As the chief information officer (CIO), Mara Benz will be responsible for all matters related to the company’s systems and processes Markus Benz, who has steered the fortunes of Walter Knoll AG & Co. KG since 1993, is enthusiastic about the company’s succession as his daughter, Mara Benz (30), takes on this significant responsibility. Mara, who pursued business administration studies in London and St. Gallen, obtaining a Master’s in Strategy and International Management in 2020, has garnered experience as a Strategy Consultant at Oliver Wyman in Zurich. Her professional career includes stints and internships at various luxury brands such as Porsche, Bulgari, LOEWE, and Louis Vuitton.
Could you briefly share your plans with us?
Historically, our products and production have been heavily physical, where a sofa is simply a sofa. I’m considering where our future products and processes will lie on the spectrum between physical and virtual. What often propel me to move forward are: what the modern furniture brand of the future will look like; how people live and work amidst artificial intelligence and immersive spaces like the Metaverse; implications that we will have for our furniture, and how we will engage with our customers.
What does the changing of the guard at Walter Knoll mean for you?
The changing of the guard signifies working with my father to gain the in-depth knowledge from his experience in managing the company for 30 years. It also involves collaboratively exploring various topics, leveraging my expertise from past work experiences, and creating a shared vision for the future of Walter Knoll.
What have you learnt from your father in successfully managing the company?
Follow your passion, just like he did throughout his thirty years dedication to Walter Knoll. My father has been the driving force for the company’s remarkable development and outstanding products. His leadership role model has not only shaped my perspective since we began working together but has also been a source of inspiration during my formative years, observing my father’s commitment to the company.