Meet Simon...

Year of Birth: 1992
Degree Program: Double-Bachelor in Economics and International Affairs
University: University of St. Gallen
Previous Internships: Goldman Sachs (Investment Banking), Bertelsmann (Corporate M&A), McKinsey & Company
Interests: Skiing, Opera, Politics

Student Challenger since 2016.

Describe your educational background. Where did/do you study, what degrees did/will you receive?
I started going to university while still being a high school student, as I received a special admission to study economics in 11th grade.  After I had attended the courses of a renowned Professor at the Johannes-Gutenberg-University Mainz I was sure that I wanted to pursue a degree focused on economics and business. I decided to pursue a double-degree in economics and international affairs at the University of St. Gallen, which allowed me to fulfill this goal while developing a holistic profile, as the University also offered courses in arts, philosophy and history. During my bachelor studies, I spent a semester at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. From the very first days I was mesmerized by this city, as its skyline dwarfs the one of New York City. After graduating from my degree in international affairs last September I am currently writing my second bachelor thesis for my degree in economics. In autumn I will most probably begin to study in a master program. 

Describe your career history. What have been your professional experiences?
During my third year at the University of St. Gallen I worked for the London-based start-up Gradminds for several months. I cooperated closely with the founder and developed a market-entry strategy for Germany and pitched our e-lancing services to clients in the corporate finance and consulting sector. In the summer of 2015 I began my gap-year with an internship in Goldman Sachs’ investment banking division. In their Frankfurt office I worked on a variety of M&A deals as well as an IPO. It was an exceptional experience to be involved in the advisory of high-caliber clients from a plethora of industries. Subsequently I started the Gap-Year Program with my internship in Bertelsmann’s corporate M&A division and will intern with McKinsey & Company in Berlin, starting in April.

What attracted you to Bertelsmann and your internships? What is/was your favorite aspect about your job?
First of all, I think Bertelsmann is in an exceptional strategic position within its sector. While there are only very few industries that have changed as much as TMT and especially publishing, many firms have still not started to restructure and reinvent their business activities. Bertelsmann’s efforts to break into new industries and to push for digitalization and modernization across its portfolio make it in exception to this paralysis of many peers. Furthermore, I felt very strongly that the role of the M&A department and the exceptional team working there would be an outstanding opportunity to both broaden my knowledge of corporate finance by learning about the perspective of a strategic buyer and seller and to simultaneously deepen it by having the chance to take on more responsibility in financial modelling and M&A process management. Working together with the members of the M&A team proved to be extremely interesting and personally enriching and was my favorite aspect about coming to the office each day.

What has been your most challenging/rewarding/exciting task or project thus far?    
My projects and tasks at Gradmins, Goldman Sachs and Bertelsmann have had such diverse characteristics that it is impossible to select a single one. At Gradminds the hardest challenge was to organize myself and my approach to a task as tough as acquiring a first German client while working extremely independently. At Goldman Sachs the pressure to perform well every single day while managing various projects with tight deadlines was very high. In my internship with Bertelsmann I found it very rewarding to be faced with a good mix of support, responsibility and urgency when coming into the office each day.

What qualities do you feel are necessary to be a successful employee at Bertelsmann?
Working at Bertelsmann, in general and maybe especially in the M&A team, means working with a variety of teams and functions across the Bertelsmann family. Doing so requires one to be open to different perspectives and to consider a variety of solutions instead of pushing for a single path forward.

What was/is a typical day during your internship like?
Due to the character of M&A projects – especially their tendency to confront you with many surprises – it is difficult to describe a typical day. One of my projects was a potential buy-side for a joint-venture of two companies of the Bertelsmann family. Over the course of my internship I was involved in the various phases of the transaction ranging from an initial valuation over an extensive due diligence to detailed financial modelling and the drafting of offer documents.

What are your professional goals? Any others?
In the next years I want to gain professional experience in a driven and challenging environment that allows me to understand how to manage processes and how to develop a structured approach to a variety of problems. While there are sectors and industries that I am especially interested in, I do not want to narrow my focus on any one of them, yet.

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