Philipp Schmidt, Gourmet with a family background in delicatessen, media person, home-grown Bertelsmann corporate plant.
Source of inspiration, loves Paris, delights in the connection between creativity and technology. Encourager, error-forgiver,
inspires trust, formulates innovative marketing recipes. Chief Transformation Officer, Prisma Media, Paris.
I am an optimist. I believe you should always try things first, and give them a chance
This attitude helps me to overcome obstacles, and to try new things, says Philipp Schmidt, who works in Paris for Prisma Media, a French subsidiary of Gruner + Jahr. The Head of Advertising B2B Monetization Department also takes this attitude when it comes to managing his team of 150 people.
I’m not a typical, hierarchy-driven boss; I consider myself part of the team. It’s important to me to create a working environment where people trust each other, where everyone can express their personality and their ideas. All I try to do is give my colleagues some direction.
However, it is not always easy for him to motivate and inspire all colleagues to the same level – especially considering that his team consists of people of all age groups, from twenty to sixty years old.
My job is to find a way that allows both the younger ones – the digital natives – as well as the more experienced team members to cooperate and to get along well with each other. I believe the key to achieving this is finding a shared idea and a common goal. He does admit to having one important characteristic that helps him in this respect:
I think I’m a good socializer. I find it easy to bring different people together
– creative people and technology experts, or people of varying nationalities and from widely differing backgrounds.
Philipp Schmidt, originally from Paderborn in Westphalia, is a truly homegrown Bertelsmann talent: after secondary school, he completed a vocational training and degree program, studying at university while also gaining practical work experience toward his degree at Bertelsmann part-time. He then joined Bertelsmann subsidiary Gruner + Jahr in a trainee program, which took him to Paris.
And today – sixteen-and-a-half years later – I’m still not bored with my job. Quite the contrary! It has always been interesting, something new was happening all the time, and I always had open-minded direct line managers that trusted me and gave me responsibility. So I never had a reason to leave.
Plus, his employer is just as creativity-driven as he is.
Creativity is key – for me as a person, but also when it comes to my working environment. In our industry, everything always starts with an initial idea from which we develop the contents; and relationships then develop from these. And these relationships are vital these days, because they ensure that customers stay loyal to companies, dedicate some of their time to them and trust them with their data. However, courage and a willingness to explore new avenues are just as important:
In our line of work, it’s important to see things from the customer’s point of view; you simply cannot afford to have a silo mentality
In order to constantly find new ways to entertain and inspire people, Bertelsmann and its subsidiaries must be willing to embrace the idea of external partnerships, and of cooperation with other companies, with start-ups and with the people who have the initial ideas. Because that is the only way to create something completely innovative.
However, not only has the 37-year-old’s enthusiasm for his job constantly been rekindled; his equally high enthusiasm for the city he works in and its people has also never dulled.
Paris is an extremely fascinating city with good food and plenty to do. I have met some truly wonderful people here, and meeting up with them helps me to retain my work–life balance – even if my family lives far away in Germany. His parents instilled a passion for haute cuisine into Philipp at a very early age. As a gourmet, he takes particular joy in living in the city by the Seine. The topics of creativity and courage also dominate his spare time.
It makes me happy to create something together as a team, to try out new things. I have many friends who work in other industries, who think about completely different things. I love sitting down with them to talk, to enjoy a good meal and especially the moment when – after long hours of brainstorming and discussion – a good idea is born. So his working life is not strictly divided from his private life.
For me, it’s very important that I find satisfaction in my job, and that I don’t just work to earn money. Work should be a mission that overlaps with some of your personal goals – that’s when it truly satisfies me and makes me happy. And only then will I be capable of inspiring others with my ideas and suggestions.
And what are his personal goals? Where does he see himself in five years’ time?
In Paris or maybe in another exciting capital, because I am an urbanite through and through. In all probability, I will still be with Bertelsmann then, too. After all, I’ve been happy here for the past sixteen-and-a-half years – so why should this change over the next five years?