Sabine is a leader in crowd management but when not doing her day job, she finds time to run an animal sanctuary.

Sabine Funk is managing director of IBIT (International training centre for Crowd and Safety Management) and head of the education and research departments in Bonn, Germany.

She has studied Crowd and Safety Management, BA (Hons) and is one of the leading experts for crowd safety management in Germany.

Sabine Funk is content board member of the YOUROPE Event Safety (YES) Group and focuses especially on the development of international standards.

Having worked in the industry for more than 25 years, with more than 10 years as production manager of one of Germany’s biggest admission free open -air festivals, Sabine has experience in the planning & production of major events in both venues and public spaces.

When she’s not working, she takes care of about 60 animals on her own farm animal sanctuary.

Sabine, welcome to the Leadership interview

How do you start your day?

We run a small farm/animal sanctuary – so first and foremost I have to save our animals from starvation.

About an hour later I like to drink a coffee and look   through my plans and tasks for the day.

What was your first job and what is the worst job you have ever done?

My first job definitely was one of the worst – I was around 16 and worked in a factory during school holidays – it was so boring.

I had to punch metal sheets on a press machine… all day long – for six long weeks. I absolutely hated it.

So maybe – though it was really bad – it turned out to be the most important job because it definitely motivated me to think about my future.

What advice would you give to others about furthering their careers?

I think it is important to try.

There’s no problem in failing – I did it so many times – but only by trying you’ll find out what really is important for you.

And: no stress. My career was not straight forward – not at all. I studied (something completely different), I worked in a bar, I was on tour with bands, run a record label and store … and now I’m a Crowd Safety Management Consultant.

Career wise I could have done better – but in regard to fun and experience it was a great time so far.

Who inspires you and why?

I’m inspired by a lot of people – for I’m always curious about what “interesting” people do – and I always find something inspiring.

Especially interesting for me are people who stand up for what they believe. People who fight for something that is important to them interest me.

Most of them are women – strong women.

For example, Madeleine Albright, the first woman to have become the US Secretary of State, as well as Fiona Oakes, who is a vegan marathon runner. She runs a sanctuary with more than 500 animals – or Marge Simpson!

It took a while to admit – but my mother inspired me – she was so strong (which I did not realize as kid and which I hated as a revolting teenager).

Do you think a talent to lead is nature or nurture?

Without some natural leadership qualities you are lost, I think.

You can always see if someone just “learned” to be a leader – he or she has to concentrate on being a leader – whereas others just are leaders and they behave in quite another confident way.

It’s therefore easier for them being respectful to others and to admit failures – which again, makes them a good leader.

How can a leader fail? Do you have a personal example?

A leader fails by not being respectful to others.

Arrogant leaders are a pest.

There are so many examples especially in this “event” industry:

  • Not listening to what others say
  • Feeling too important
  • Not being straight-forward
  • Lying

There are so many ways a leader can fail.

What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

My greatest strength is that I am able to say no.

I was stuck in too much work for too long – I had to learn to say no and now I find it a really important strength.

Another strength is that I am really enthusiastic about what I do.

My biggest weakness is that I cannot control my facial expression when I think that someone is stupid or is saying stupid things.

No matter how much I try – you can always see what I think.

Another weakness is that I’m sometimes getting angry – really angry – about stupid people, bad people, people who don’t care, politics, cruelty – and I can be really mean when I am angry.

What do you find most challenging about being a leader?

Envy. There are so many envious people.

What are you most proud of?

I’m always proud when I realize that someone has learned something – from me.

I’m really proud of being able to teach and to educate people so that they are able to improve things and make their events safer.

What’s your biggest self- indulgence?

Rescuing animals in need. I realized that I cannot change the world but I can change my own surroundings.

My husband has to stop me all the time – otherwise we would not have 60 but 600 animals.

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