Meet Florian...

Year of Birth: 1990
Degree Program: Master of Arts in Banking & Finance
University: University of St. Gallen
Previous Internships: Bertelsmann (Corporate M&A), Bridgepoint (Private Equity), Citigroup (Investment Banking), Save the Children (Microfinance), Commerzbank (Corporate Finance Advisory)
Interests: Traveling, Cooking & Food, Martial Arts

Student Challenger since February 2016.

Describe your educational background. Where did/do you study, what degrees did/will you receive?
After I graduated from school, I wanted to gain some practical experience and enrolled in a trainee program with Commerzbank which combined academic and on-the-job education. After finishing my first degree I wanted to enjoy further academic education and, therefore, I decided to do a bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of St. Gallen. During my bachelor studies, I spent a semester abroad at National Taiwan University in Taipei. It was a great experience to spend five months in a completely different environment with students from all over the world. At the moment, I am enrolled in the Master in Banking & Finance at the University of St. Gallen. I will graduate in summer 2017 – but before that, I will spend some more time abroad during an exchange term at Seoul National University in Korea.

Describe your career history. What have been your professional experiences?
As mentioned before, I started with a trainee program at Commerzbank which offered the opportunity to discover the banking world from different angles. Before I started studying in St. Gallen, I wanted to explore another part of the world and decided to go to Vietnam. I worked with an international NGO on microfinance projects all over the country. While I loved the experience, I found out that investment banking as a fast-paced industry matches my interest very well and offers great opportunities for personal and professional development. Hence, I did a summer internship with Citigroup’s M&A team in Frankfurt. I really enjoyed the experience as I had the chance to work on a company-transforming acquisition in the automotive industry. Afterwards, I did another internship in the financial industry. During my time with Bridgepoint, I learned how a private equity investor thinks and looks at a transaction. I liked to take a deep dive into new industries and to analyze the drivers of profitability and business success. After I gained quite some experience in the financial industry, I felt like it was about time to view the world of business from a different perspective. Therefore, I decided to intern with Bertelsmann. More about this experience at a later stage… My next step will lead me back to the financial industry as I will be a summer analyst with Perella Weinberg Partners in their London office.

What attracted you to Bertelsmann and your internships? What is/was your favorite aspect about your job?
First of all, I wanted to see something else than the financial industry. While I really liked dealing with M&A, I wanted to broaden my horizon. The internship with Bertelsmann offered me the opportunity to look at the transaction process not only from a financial perspective but also from a strategic angle. Moreover, I think the media industry is very exciting due to the on-going digitization that completely changes Bertelsmann’s business model and offers potential for growth. Last but not least, the people from Bertelsmann’s M&A department convinced me that it is a great opportunity to work with them. I felt like I would perfectly fit into the team. In retrospect, I must say that I had an amazing time at Bertelsmann. I learnt a lot from the team and they really helped me to extend my knowledge.

What has been your most challenging/rewarding/exciting task or project thus far?    
I am lucky to say that each of my internships so far has offered some very challenging tasks that helped me to further develop my skills. While I worked for a NGO in Vietnam, I was given the chance to travel to remote villages to interview entrepreneurs that received funding from the microfinance program I was working for. It was amazing to see how those people dealt with the challenges of life. On the other hand, I enjoyed to work for corporations such as Citigroup or Bertelsmann and to think about M&A transactions as they are an important part of a company’s strategy toolbox. It has been a great experience to work as a part of a highly motivated team that is willing to work hard in order to achieve a common goal.

What qualities do you feel are necessary to be a successful employee at Bertelsmann?
As Bertelsmann is an employer that actively encourages an entrepreneurial mindset, it is very important to be willing to take on responsibility. People are open to listen to your ideas and are happy to share their knowledge with you. If you are willing to perform, you will be given the opportunity to show your skills.

What was/is a typical day during your internship like?
Given that the work in M&A is project-based, no day was like the other. One of my projects was a potential buy-side transaction for a subsidiary in Spain. Being an active part of the deal team was a great experience as I had the chance to work with both Bertelsmann’s local team and the sell-side advisor in Spain. I worked on several aspects of the transaction from process organization, due diligence over financial modeling. Moreover, I worked on another project with a German subsidiary where I helped to develop some transaction-related documents. Therefore, I had the chance to interact with the subsidiary’s management team in order to get access to relevant information. I loved that I was given responsibility from day one and I could implement my own thoughts and discuss my ideas openly with other team members.

What are your professional goals? Any others?
My goal is to work in a challenging and international environment that offers the possibility for continuous learning. Moreover, I want to work with highly motivated and skilled people who are willing to work hard in order to achieve their goals. More specifically, I like to deal with issues at the interface between finance and strategy and, hence, want to start my career in a related field.

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