Meet Max W. ...

Year of Birth:

Current Position:

Business Development, Penguin Random House New York
Degree Program: Fall 2014 Master of Arts in Cultural & Creative Industries
University: King's College London
Previous Internships: HASPA AG, Filtrona Porous Technologies LSE, Startup experience, NDR Norddeutscher Rundfunk, KPMG AG, arvato AG, Random House Inc.

Corporate Strategy, Business Development, Media Management, Sales, Corporate Social Responsibility

Student Challenger since Summer 2012 to September 2014.

Describe your educational background. Where did / do you study, what degrees did / will you receive? 
Originally raised in Hamburg, I started to study Business Administration in Fall 2009 at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. I will graduate in Spring 2013 and I am looking forward to sign up for a master’s program at the end of the upcoming year. Currently, I am enrolled at American University in Washington D.C. as an exchange student for the fall term of 2012.

Describe your career history. What have been your professional experiences? 
Describing my career history is probably a little bit confusing for any reader, because it is everything but a straight way. After high school many kids want to explore the world and want to be part of adventures, and I wanted this too. The internship at Filtrona Porous Technology LSE Ningbo/ China was my own adventure and the experience within the marketing and sales department formed my wish to go on with business. My next chapter was completing civil service at Diakonisches Werk e.V. . I spent 9 months as a civilian service provider within ambulant elderly care, where I was responsible for the hygienic care of 15 disabled and elderly people. While this was probably not a professional experience regarding the business world, it was one of the most influential things for me so far because I entered a totally new reality within society through this job. I learned that life is limited, but great and that you have to take opportunities and make a change, because others, who probably want to do so, do not have the chance. During the following years, I looked into different fields within the business world to find my devotion and “opportunity.” After being in intern at a Spanish startup, the business department of the broadcaster NDR, and after gaining insight into the business development of arvato and the finance advisory department of KPMG, I still figure my devotion is in media management.

What attracted you to Bertelsmann and your internships? What is / was your favorite aspect about your job?
To be honest, the most impressive thing about Bertelsmann to me was not the huge corporate structure and the diversity over so many business fields, but rather Bertelsmann convinced me by its people. I was never so impressed by employees of any kind of company. The people who I met from Bertelsmann were impressive regarding experience, education, characters and life stories. I was attracted by amazing teams with extraordinary people and I wanted to learn from these people about how they form the company and how they do business. If I write now about my favorite aspect about the job, that I was even able to really work with these people who I wanted to work with, it might be too much “people stuff.” No seriously, for every intern at Bertelsmann there exists a great opportunity and chance that it is really about learning on the job. Thus, my favorite aspect was that interns get a lot of responsibility and are able to explore the company while still thinking by themselves.

What has been your most challenging / rewarding / exciting task or project thus far? 
One of the most challenging projects in my life so far came from an idea we had with some friends to organize a tennis camp in 2008, which included a sleepover at the local tennis club. The task: How do you make 55 kids sleep in tents, where half of them want to “party” and the other half is homesick? Besides that project, which actually could not be served with a solution, I think that my intern project at arvato was also really challenging. We were a team of two interns implementing a social collaboration tool within a certain part of the organization. We had 8 weeks to find a programmer, to execute the program, and to communicate it to the company. For us it was a real challenge, especially within the structures of a 5 billion euros company.

What qualities do you feel are necessary to be a successful employee at Bertelsmann?
I think there are two fundamental qualities important for being in a certain way successful at Bertelsmann. First, you need to be open-minded. Bertelsmann is a big family and family needs to be treated with the required openness. People expect you to be communicative. Second, and probably even more important than the first one, you need to be inquisitive and attentive. Bertelsmann has so many opportunities and challenges for employees and even interns. If you are inquisitive and attentive, you will find great opportunities.

What was / is a typical day during your internship like?
As other student challengers have explained it, there is no day like another, thus “typical days” actually rarely exist. However, “typical days” use to start at 9 in the morning. As an intern, we had three projects running parallel. Until 11 we were tended to the new content, which means mails, meetings and phone calls. After that we updated the status of the projects or prepared for a feedback meeting with our supervisors and executive managers, depending on the day’s tasks and project. In the afternoon, we presented the status and were even able to suggest certain decision options to the management as interns. In the meetings you often reach a decision, followed by the adjustment of the milestone plan. As stated before, people are going to advise you and give you the chance to learn, however at Bertelsmann, and in my case at arvato, you as an intern carry the responsibility itself that the project is as well executed! You will have this responsibility during every “typical day” and it’s a great chance to learn.

What are your professional goals? Any others ;-) ? 
My professional goals are actually not just to reach a certain position in a corporate entity; rather I want to have a job that creates a real and fundamental value for society. Media management will play a role in my future, because the speed and the size of scope fascinate me. I want to make a certain change. There is nothing good, unless it is not done.

Another goal: I really like cooking, the only problem is it does not taste yet. I would like to change that.

If you had one word to describe Bertelsmann – what would it be?