Heads Up with Michael Kliger, CEO, Mytheresa

Michael Kliger is the Chief Executive Officer of Mytheresa, where he has helped the luxury online retailer scale its business while maintaining operating profitability at levels ahead of rival e-commerce players. Michael was appointed CEO in 2015 and under his leadership, Mytheresa has become a leader in luxury fashion, trusted by luxury global brands and customers alike for its curated collection, sophisticated operations and exclusive collaborations. Michael led the business through a successful IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in 2021.

Michael has been in the retail and digital sector for over 20 years, with experience at eBay, (as vice president of international eBay Enterprise), as managing director at Accenture and as the partner in charge of German retail at McKinsey & Partner.

He holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management and a Diploma degree from the Berlin University of Technology.

What does good leadership mean to you?

Providing clarity, on the direction an organization should take and giving teams all the support and instilling all the enthusiasm to go this direction.

What is the most important thing you have learnt in your career so far?

There needs to be 100% clarity for everyone on the direction / the objectives you want to achieve but the way you get there must remain fairly flexible to accommodate an ever faster changing environment

How did you get to where you are today? Did you take a strategic, planned approach to your career or has it been more opportunistic?

My career has been opportunistic in the sense that I was often lucky as new opportunities came about for me but I then full heartedly jumped on it. You need to work hard when luck presents you wih an opportunity.

Is there anything you wish you’d known when you started your career? And anything you would tell yourself at an earlier stage in your career?

Well, all the mistakes and learnings I had early in my career hopefully helped me to be a better leader today. But for sure, I did not appreciate in the beginning that in business only results count and that there is unfortunately more and more and emphasis on process instead of outcome.

What changes to your industry do you anticipate over the next two years and are you excited by this?

The digital luxury sector will for sure undergo massive changes as consumers embrace new technology and media, as luxury brands will re-invent themselves again and as the industry will for sure consolidate further.  All of this makes it very exciting for us.

What are your three key priorities in the next 12 months?

Customer Empathy, Operational Excellence and Cost Management.

What type of people do you like to work with and what makes them good leaders?

I like leaders that take decisions, know their stuff, prefer actions over analysis and lead by example.

What fascinates you about your job?

I like it so much as it combines the quite different worlds of luxury fashion, digital technology and large scale operations

As a leader what skills do you continuously work on to keep you at the top of your game?

I strongly believe the best you can do is to stay very close to customers, their feedback, ideas and criticism. This constantly reminds you to remain modest and work hard regardless of how good you believe you already are.

What keeps you awake at night?

The things I do not know. Problems or issues I am aware of I can attack and work on but the things you do not know may take you by big surprise.

What is the best way to switch off in your free time?

Playing with my 5 year old daughter.