Get to know Moritz Kettler, a Director of Product Design at Zalando

Meet Moritz, a Director of Product Design at Zalando. Learn what got him interested in starting at Zalando, what keeps him motivated, how he leads and inspires his teams, and what tips he would give to future candidates.

5 min
29 November 2023

Could you please introduce yourself and your role at Zalando?

My name is Moritz Kettler and I am a Director of Product Design within DMC (Design, Marketing, and Content), focused on Inspiration & Engagement. I joined Zalando in January 2022.

I’m responsible for making the Zalando app and web experience more entertaining, fun, and delightful so that every time a user lands in our experience they are met with content and experiences they want to come back to. 

Traditionally we managed to do that just through our assortment, but now customer expectations are much bigger and we have to constantly reassess how we earn the customer’s attention. I’m leading the teams that are pushing us into this new frontier.

Why did you join Zalando? 

I’ve done a lot of work in publishing and building product systems for brands like the BBC and NBC News in my career, and I’ve observed this transition of major retail brands having a lot of the same needs to reach and retain their audiences through content. I saw this in my work with Samsung, Cartier, and the H&M group, leading digital transformation to new customer engagement models through a creative agency context. 

What keeps you motivated?

Trying and learning new things. This is what has ultimately drawn me to product design - it’s a non-static space, and you always need to either innovate or, at a minimum, adapt to the changing expectations of users that are being formed by the multitude of digital interactions that shape their lives.

Staying on top of what the competition is doing (both in and out of category) and also seeing all the innovation that’s happening across teams at Zalando gives me a real energy boost every week.

What do you love about our culture at Zalando? 

I’ve been super impressed how value-driven the organization is and how strongly our founding mindsets are infused in my daily interactions.
Think big act fast - our team recently launched Stories on Zalando, a game changer in how we deliver highly engaging content in social-first formats. Now that we have a new storytelling toolkit, we can do all sorts of experimentation and react to the world around us – like releasing a story on Rhianna’s SuperBowl outfit the day after the event or spinning up new content franchises like The Perfect X that really bring a voice and personality to Zalando’s fashion perspective.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I would say it’s a mix of transformational leadership, vision and growth focused and servant style leadership, team and development focused - which is a constant balancing act that needs frequent recalibration.

Can you talk about how you inspire teams to /create incredible customer experiences? 

Context and storytelling are the biggest tools in my quiver. I think it’s the single most important element in team self-actualization and developing a shared passion for a big customer vision.

We’re one of the three teams that contribute to the C (Content) in DMC - Design Marketing and Content, which gives us a unique position as storytellers to impact how Zalando is perceived by new and existing audiences. From expressing a real perspective on Fashion via Stories on Zalando led by the Content and Programming team, to the copy that guides the user experience led by Content Design, to the tactics we use to communicate all the innovations we’re bringing into the fashion store led by product marketing.

What differentiates your team and makes them special?

I think it’s a mix of a pioneering attitude, creativity, and a willingness to learn and evolve that makes the team super special. We’re a team of runners, writers, cyclers, cheese aficionados, part-time wine merchants, and moonlighting singers. Sometimes we go bowling, and I’m very obviously the worst. More often we sing Karaoke and no one notices how bad I am.

It's also a diverse team with a 58% female to male ratio and our team currently has 12 different nationalities and 4% are German.

What are the top 3 attributes you look for in candidates when hiring?  

I don’t want to belabour the obvious attributes - craft, user-centric design thinking, and communication…those are always in the forefront. 

The top 3 less obvious attributes I always try to dig into are:

  • Adaptability - context switching
  • Prototyping - thinking in steps and journeys
  • Zooming - balancing strategic and tactical perspectives

The talent market is fiercely competitive, how can candidates differentiate themselves? 

I think candor and honest introspection are some of the most important but underrated qualities in an interview process. Perfect is not relatable, and the most memorable interviews I’ve had with prospective candidates are the ones where someone shared a really thoughtful insight around a wall they hit in their previous role. That’s the stuff that sticks with you. Perfection is imminently forgettable.

For interviews, if you can give only one piece of advice to candidates to show Zalando their capability, what is it? 

Demonstrate your learning mindset. There are three basic questions that should come up in an interview:

  • What have you done previously?
  • Why did you do it (that way)?
  • What did you learn from it?

Too often, I only get really clear answers to the first two. But what I find the most interesting, and valuable, is the answer to the third question.

Product Design is a practice of learning, otherwise you’re just copying or repeating mistakes—so focus on that aspect of your previous experiences.

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