Viccarbe Talks – Sara Armbruster: President and CEO of Steelcase Inc.

Viccarbe Talks – Sara Armbruster: President and CEO of Steelcase Inc.

15 September, 2023

Today, we start ‘Viccarbe Talks’, a new chapter of interviews guided by Victor Carrasco, Founder of Viccarbe, who has the pleasure of introducing us to interesting personalities such as our first guest: Sara Armbruster, President and CEO of Steelcase Inc.

Armbruster holds over 20 years of experience in corporate strategy and business innovation. Since joining Steelcase in 2007, she has held international leadership roles in several of the company’s business units, driving growth and innovation through strategic and results-driven leadership.

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Hi Sara, it seems like only yesterday when Steelcase suggested, over dinner in New York, to start a close collaboration with the Group. Of this more than 16 years ago, which have cemented the fruitful relationship between Viccarbe and Steelcase. As the first female president and tenth CEO in the company’s history, your challenges are exciting, and we feel tremendously fortunate to have your talent leading and taking the company to an even more ambitious level.

I would like you to let us know how Steelcase, for more than 100 years, has led the office industry with such significant proposals for improving our daily lives.

There are many things that have contributed to Steelcase’s success. One of them is our focus on learning. The Group and its people have always been committed to experimenting, learning, and adapting. The company has had to navigate enormous change in how people work – and in the world – throughout its 111-year history, and our learning mindset has been a huge asset.

With the excess of information that surrounds us, with a short-term social tendency, how do you differentiate what is urgent from what is relevant to remain leader?

In my experience, it is often clear which tasks are important to achieving long-term goals, and which tasks are urgent (but not relevant to long-term goals). What is harder for many people, me included, is prioritizing time to do the important work before the urgent work. Organizing your day or week so that you advance the important work before doing the urgent work is one technique that can help amplify your energy and effectiveness.

As you know Viccarbe has grown a lot these past years thanks to exporting its Mediterranean concept in a unique way, promoting collaboration and optimism. What do you think makes Viccarbe special?

Things that make Viccarbe special include your incredible clarity for what Viccarbe stands for – contemporary living, comfortable living, simplicity, touched by the sun – your innovation speed that enables beautiful ideas to reach the market quickly, and the talented and dedicated people who call Viccarbe home.

Any advice that you can share with us on how to make the right decisions in your day to day?

One thing I’ll offer is that decision-making is a skill that each of us can practice. If you make a choice that was difficult to reach, take 10 minutes to write down what the issue was, what options you considered, and how you landed on your decision. Save that piece of paper and pull it out six months later. Reflecting on what your thinking was after making the choice, once time has gone by and you know the outcome, is a great way to understand your thinking patterns and gives you insights that can be used in future decision-making.

I have always thought that the solution to all evils lies in reading. What book could you recommend us?

Since we have been talking about differentiating the urgent from the important and decision-making, I’ll suggest Four Thousand Weeks: Time and How to Use It by Oliver Burkeman. And for fun, a few of my favorite novels from the past few years are The Dutch House by Ann Patchett and The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson.