Dr. Hannes Gmelin

Bereichsleiter Arvato AG Gütersloh, Germany


QX: Hannes, you have been a music tutor in Hamburg for a long time. How did you shift your mind from teaching into business and consulting and what is the main difference between working for the government compared to working for a company on the free market?

Hannes: The main difference between the two areas teaching/public and consulting/free market are the people I have met in the respective areas. Without any judgement, colleagues in the two worlds have been very different in my experience. I think this is less a question of values but more a matter of attitude and I simply fit better to the latter.

QX: Today you are responsible for more than 6000 employees. How did you achieve such a high impact/influence within the company and what would be the main advice for younger QX seniorities?

My fifty cents for younger QX seniorities is to strive for a network of colleagues and relationships where you can both feel ease and are pushed to the next level at the same time. I have always benefitted from superiors and mentors who supported me at all levels – and with whom I had strong working relationships (and helped them to achieve their goals, of course). Although probably not every day can be fun, I am convinced that I would not have been able to invest the amount of energy necessary for a traditional career without generally liking what I do (a lot).

QX: Throughout your different career stations, did you recognize specific kinds of challenges or threats you had to face. Would you share them with our members?

For me, a particular kind of challenge has always been the need to choose between the vast array of options. Consulting thus seemed a natural choice but with that, a lot of other decisions were made, such as restricting private life to the week-ends or accepting a degrading level of physical fitness … As a result, I regularly carve out the time to take inventory of my current status and reflect on my level of content.

QX: You were a student of Sorbonne, one of the most famous Universities worldwide. We are curious, if there is a special atmosphere for music students in Paris, how would you describe it?

I would agree that there is a special atmosphere. In my experience, however, it is more driven by the city than this university. The Sorbonne is a public university with funding problems such as any regular German university. That leads to the students in the first and second year having to commute a long way to the outskirts every day because of space limitations in the city center, for example … But being in my third year at the time led to myself really matching the cliché: enjoying the dream of living and working around Place St. Michel with lots of free time – and lots of opportunities every evening to benefit from the amazing city, be it only walking around at night time.

QX: Working as a strategy consultant and director for Bertelsmann is very different from your past. Do you ever fear to miss out on something from your previous life of music and teaching?

Not at all. On the contrary, I am very happy that I have not made music and teaching my profession. To have a very dear leisure time activity such as music is a great complement to job and family life.

QX: What is your vanity?

My vanity is to sometimes really do nothing at all – and enjoying it.