Management and Team

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Ralf Linden

Chief Executive Officer

UNIVERSUM Payment Solution GmbH

“What you want to ignite in others must first burn inside yourself” says a quote associated with St. Augustine and that is precisely how Ralf Linden manages the activities of his team. The dynamic CEO, who values a direct and honest approach, is an efficient type of “doer”, who directs the marketing and sales strategies. While not restricted to his field of expertise, he keeps track of all divisions and influences the strategic development of the UNIVERSUM Group. He supports the development of his team and is appreciated for his professionalism, his sense of humor, and the fact that he stands in front of his employees when facing challenges. In his free time, he loves to cook with passion and precision, cheers Bayern Munich, or is found working-out in a fitness studio.

Axel Janßen

Chief Financial Officer

UNIVERSUM Payment Solution GmbH

To bring strategic visions on the road and exploring the boundaries of what is possible – is the primary role of CFO Axel Janssen. In case of doubt, the diplomatic controller, who is responsible for everything that has to do with numbers at the UNIVERSUM Group, follows his motto “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. He’s been with the company since 2010 and Managing Director since the management buy-out. The tax expert enjoys high esteem among his employees for his social competence, his calmness in stressful situations and his ability to “think around corners”. In his free time, the globetrotter explores foreign cultures or experiments with cooking recipes which he creates on his own.

Gunnar Jöns

Chief Operating Officer

UNIVERSUM Payment Solution GmbH

“The whole is more than just a sum of its parts” is the motto that COO Gunnar Jöns uses to run the product management, process and IT divisions. As an executive officer, he considers cooperation, commitment and personal communication to be the key to overall success. He draws on the experience which he gained in various management roles in major companies and as a consultant. In the past, he has already supported the UNIVERSUM Group with realigning our product, process and project management. Employees and colleagues praise the technically oriented and inquisitive early adopter for his decisiveness, reliability and readiness to listen to other people’s opinions. In his leisure time he enjoys exploring the world with his friends and family, along with cosy evenings in pleasant company.

Christian Kren

Managing Director 

UNIVERSUM Payment Solution GmbH

"The future depends on what you do today." This quote from Mahatma Ghandi is the motto of Christian Kren and runs like a red thread through his life. Because more than once today he has made decisions that were of great importance for tomorrow - for companies as well as for himself. A responsibility that the passionate motorcyclists also gladly assumes in his new task - the merger of UNIVERSUM Group and heidelpay Group. His humorous and always solution-oriented manner makes him a perfect team player and esteemed colleague.

Board of Directors

Petra Linden

Director of Key Account Management

“Man is all the greater, the more he is himself” this quote from Antoine de Saint Excupéry, is probably fit no one better than Petra Linden. The Director of Key Account Management mainly deals with businesses in the E-Commerce, Sport and Fitness as well as financial institutes and insurance companies. The highly skilled bank clerc is a perfectionist, resolute and loves details. She can look back on a long history of sales experience in the field of real estate and financing. But the tough appearance disguises a soft core: her peers appreciate the fact that she is always in a good mood and very reliable. In her free time she coaches people at the fitness studio well.come to develop stamina and physical strength. Matching her motto, DON’T WISH FOR IT – WORK FOR IT, she pushes the participants of her courses beyond their limits – and they surely know what they’ve accomplished when they’re done.

Dr. Michael Semmler

Managing Director


Optimistic and always professional: Leadership by example and expertise, is Dr. Michael Semmler’s way of manageing his staff. The Managing Director is responsible for the UNIVERSUM group’s credit checks, business intelligence, and portfolio reviews. The risk management expert with a Ph.D. in mathematics is appreciated for his expertise, his reliability and his ability to take seemingly insignificant issues seriously. He is with us since 2007 and previously worked in the campaign management for e-commerce, in the portfolio monitoring, and factoring. In addition to his position in the UNIVERSUM Group, he enjoys stimulating discussions with his students during his lectures in Business Informatics at the University of Ingolstadt.

Nicole Steppat

Director of Legal & Human Resources

As Director of Legal and Human Resources, Nicole Steppat heads the legal and human resources departments of the UNIVERSUM Group. The specialist lawyer for commercial and corporate law lives up to her motto "Always fair to the goal" in her daily human resources work, in conducting legal disputes, but also in dealing with her own team. Their employees appreciate their helpfulness, their humorous openness in personal contact and their interest in new professional challenges.
After studying law at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Nicole Steppat worked for several international law firms for several years. The sports lover prefers to spend her free time jogging, yoga or on horseback.


Rainer Hessler

Head of Business Process Engineering

“Only who is a good colleague to himself, can also be a good colleague for others. This motto has accompanied Rainer Heßler throughout his entire career. He’s been active in various functions in the UNIVERSUM Group Receivables Management for over 30 years and is responsible for the operational processes in the area of debt collection since January 2016 as head of business process engineering together with his colleague Paraskevi Migkou. With his highly motivated team, he ensures a flexible process flow and always finds the right way to address debitors. His colleagues value his empathy and his willingness to share experiences with others. To compensate for hard working, the enhiker, cyclists and canoeist enjoys the beauty of nature on extensive tours.

Paraskevi Migkou

Head of Administration

“Together we are strong” – this slogan best describes the way Paraskevi Migkou works. As head of the administration, she leads the Debit Collection Department of the UNIVERSUM Group together with her colleague Rainer Heßler and the other team leaders. A receivables management specialist with our company since 1995, she can look back on many years of experience in debit collection. Although she has the most difficult name to prononunce in the entire UNIVERSUM Group, she is appreciated by her colleagues and subordinates equally for her assertiveness, her competence, her commitment and her humor. In her spare time, she enjoys a good conversation with friends over a glass of red wine and fresh home cooked food – and loves to indulge in extensive shopping raids to reward herself for her hard work.

Sales Manager

Christian Lengstorff

Senior Sales Manager

“Understand your customer’s needs, then you will find the right solution!” This is the customer-focused approach that Christian Lengstorff adopts in order to be a successful Senior Sales Manager. A native from the German city of Bremen, he is thoroughly acquainted with accounts receivable management in e-commerce, the energy sector, banking and the publishing industry. As a team player, he always tries to think outside of the box in his efforts to find the best solution for everyone. Colleagues praise the former Senior Key Account Manager from Axactor for his calm and friendly manner and his original ideas. To relax he wakeboards, plays tennis, fine tunes his piano playing, and is considering buying another motorbike in order to enjoy exploring the nearby Odenwald mountain range in style.

Wolfgang Henn

Senior Sales Manager

"Whoever does what he can already do always remains what he already is": This attitude of Senior Sales Manager Wolfgang Henn is the basis of the decision to dare something new after many years in the fitness industry and to hire something new at the UNIVERSUM Group. Since February 2018, the cheerful nature of the Rhineland has enriched the sales team with his uncomplicated manner, his open ear for problems and many gifts from the Cologne carnival. Through many years of experience in leading positions in the fitness market, he knows the industry and the problems of unpaid membership fees inside out. The passionate cyclist and skier spends his free time with sports in all its facets, visits to concerts and musicals, books and extensive trips to Italy.


Lena Zimmermann

Executive Assistant

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken" by Oscar Wilde is the motto of Lena Zimmermann. She is a real expert in planning and organization. Without her overview, almost nothing works. The assistance of CEO, Ralf Linden, enriches the team with her helpfulness and humorous charisma. From her previous position as a travel and event manager, she has the necessary experience in this area. This is also where her hobby of travelling to foreign countries and cities in her free time comes from. But she can also be seen passionately, cheering and shaking the head alternately in the stadium at her heart soccer club, Eintracht Frankfurt. During convivial evenings with friends she collects the necessary strength for her balanced nature.

Account Manager

Christiane Peter

Head of Key Account Management

Responsible for onboarding, contract management, partner and commission billing, and quality management: it’s difficult to sum up all Christiane Peter’s diverse tasks in one word. The Head of Key Account Management also takes on complex challenges and always says that “doing it better is better then knowing it better”. Her colleagues praise her both for this as well as for her reliable working methods, her humour and her relaxed attitude. Prior to joining the UNIVERSUM Group she worked in an executive capacity as process management, service management and debtor management expert at various e-commerce companies. A real team player, she uses her leisure time for sports, furthering her education, and travelling – preferably to somewhere sunny with a beach.

Joerg Feldmann

Expert CRM & Debt Collection

Serving customers, answering questions and solving problems is what describes the duties of Expert CRM & Debt Collection, Jörg Feldmann. Adhering to his motto “Fortes fotuna iuvat” – fortune favours the brave – he masters every challenge that comes up in the everyday contact with customers. The native “Rhinelander”, who studied business management in Frankfurt am Main, knows the debt collections management of the UNIVERSUM Group from A to Z. Both customers and colleagues appreciate him for his humorous, open character, his modesty and his expertise. He spends his free time with hiking or collective cooking evenings, celebrating the Asian cuisine.

Sören Trautmann

Senior Relationship Manager

“Live and let live” – this mindset helps Sören Trautmann to achieve a win-win situation with which all sides can live well even in complex situations. The Senior Relationship Manager has been with the company – less a year’s sabbatical – since 2011. After his studies in business administration, he gained experience as a financial consultant with a private bank as well as with a factoring company and now is amongst other tasks, responsible for the partner management at the UNIVERSUM Group. His colleagues appreciate him for his reliability, down-to-earthness as well as for his sense of justice and the ability to never lose the customer’s concern out of sight. In his freetime, the passionate hobby chef is either found in his kitchen or on a mountainbike or skiing in the great outdoors.

Katharina Benning

Senior Account Manager

Katharina Benning brings more than 40 years of professional experience to the UNIVERSUM Group Team.  She has already made an impact working for Neckermann with her expertise in credit checks and servicing. As Senior Account Manager, the idea that a job is impossible is completely alien to her. Billing processes and drafting agreements are no challenge for her – the native of the German city of Hesse simply researches any missing information if in any doubt.

A talented cook, she provides evidence of her creativity and perseverance when baking her upside-down cakes and other exotic creations. Colleagues also look forward to her home-made salmon roulades at team breakfasts. The onboarding expert, who is valued for her sense of balance and who also always remains calm in a crisis, likes to relax in the evenings with a good book.

Lena Kraus

Key Account Manager

As a trained bank clerk, Lena is the ideal addition to our team as Key Account Manager. With her ambitious and open nature, she has a positive attitude towards new things and challenges. She also owes her rapid understanding of the various areas to her curiosity. As Key Account Manager she looks after our customers in e-commerce and takes care of their affairs and wishes in detail. "Don't regret anything in life - except for what you didn't do," says Lena very aptly. She prefers to experience the adventures that come with her travels to foreign countries. She moves sporty to the rhythm of the music at the show dance, while she can also leave five in the circle of her friends and family at cosy evenings.

Alfred Kessler

Customer Relationship Manager

“You have to look long enough at the impossible until it becomes an easy matter”,is a slogan associated with the Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein and an aphorism Alfred Kessler has valued since 1988 when he started working for the UNIVERSUM Group. As senior of the team, who was responsible in the 1990s for the development of tailor made collections software and in the meantime founded two subsidiaries as joint Managing Director, Kessler still remained attached to the company even after reaching the age of retirement in 2014. As a charming customer relationship manager, he takes care of his customers with great passion and can often solve problems before they even occur. His colleagues value his helpfulness, his reliability and his self-assertion. He enjoys his free time riding his racing bicycle in his close neighborhood, skiing in the Alps and diving off the Brazilian coast.

Product Management

Thomas Weigang

Head of Product Management

“Only traveling is life, like on the other side life is traveling” – that relaxed attitude gives Thomas Weigang even in stressful moments a calm mind. The Head of Product Management previously worked for Commerzbank AG and for VÖB-ZVD Processing GmbH, one of the leading technical network service providers in the field of cashless payment in Germany, where he was deep diving into the knowledge base of eCommerce and retail business. The payment expert is using his experience in product management and his understanding of IT processes to adapt innovations and to develop tools for the successful cooperation for internal and external business. His colleagues appreciate his structured approach and the fact of being used as “guinea pigs” for his culinary creations. In his free time Thomas Weigang loves to travel, lives his nerdy side playing with new technical gadgets or is enjoying his spare time.

Katrin Steidl

Senior Product Manager

Katrin Steidl has been working for the UNIVERSUM Group since January 2016. The Senior Product Manager feels home in the fields of corporate risk management, e-commerce and receivables management and owes her expertise to her previous professional stations: after studying business law, she was active for Bürgel in Hamburg for 10 years. Her technical expertise, her helpfulness and her ability to superbly plan make her a haven of peace, which is appreciated by the entire team. Her motto, “Success depends on hanging on and being confident, while others have already given up”, shows that she is patient and determined. If time allows it, the mother of two children spends time swimming or running, to clear her mind.

Kai Sommerfeld

Business Consultant

“Progress, not perfection” – this motto describes the pragmatic and target-oriented working method of Kai Sommerfeld. As a Business Consultant, he leads cross-functional IT projects, provides the interface between IT and the operational business units and is responsible for the onboarding of new customers. Customer satisfaction is also at the centre of the e-commerce professional’s work.

Prior to joining the UNIVERSUM Group he gained 15 years of experience in web development, in fulfilment and multi-channel areas, including with an “Amazon food & drink” pilot customer. Colleagues praise the hobby musician for his broad expert knowledge, his can-do mentality and his humour. In his leisure time he enjoys most of all taking care of the flora and fauna in his garden, including his dog and three cats.

Marketing Manager

Catharina Reteaca

Head of Marketing

“Everything is going to be fine in the end. If it’s not fine it’s not the end.” this quote by Oscar Wilde is indicative for Catharina Reteaca’s optimistic attitude to life. Since January 2016 she is responsible for events, creativity, the coordination of external service providers and for the support of our sales team at the UNIVERSUM Group. In previous professional stations the Head of Marketing was able to collect experience in the website management as well as in creating social media profiles. Her good humor and positive attitude bring a fresh wind to the office. In her leisure time, the passionate athlete visits the fitness studio for strength training and spends extensive nights watching movies. The hobby chef’s home cooking and homemade cakes are much appreciated amongst her colleagues.

Alexander Oberbillig

Senior Online Marketing Manager

The self-chosen motto "Try everthing once. Except Incest and Folk Dance" describes two characteristics of Alexander. On the one hand, the Senior Online Marketing Manager is eager to try new technologies and always keeps an eye on all the important KPIs. With enough coffee supplies he is constantly working to optimize the UNIVERSUM Group’s digital touchpoints. On the other hand, he can laugh about himself and scores points with colleagues for his willingness to make risky bets while at the same time being totally clueless. Before joining the UNIVERSUM Group, he spent 5 years as a Marketing Manager for a well-known direct bank. In his free time, the amateur-cook-assistant risks his neck as a goalkeeper.

Joachim Hässler

Online Marketing Manager

If Joachim Hässler had a life motto, it would be "a life without a subjunctive". He means what he says. And when he laughs, it was funny. His various positions in sales and marketing have made him a language enthusiast. This characteristic, unusual for a Middle Franconian, expresses itself in the love of words, even individual letters, especially when they appear digitally. If he does not care about the website and the creation of further contents of the UNIVERSUM Group, he buys sneakers, books and even more books online. Whether social media, public relations, newsletters or specialist articles, Joachim Hässler moves like a fish in water in the digital world. In contrast to real life, where the online marketing manager lacks the webs to become a successful triathlete. He is especially happy at work when coffee and humour have the same colour: black.

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