QX: From Shanghai to Gütersloh and now Bergamo nearby Milan. Since 1st of April you took responsibility for arvato Italy. What is so special about working and living in the country of “Dolce Vita”?
Stefan: You mean besides beautiful nature and lakes in northern Italy, delicious food, wine and the extraordinary lifestyle of Milan? After successfully building up a print service business with more than 130 million Euro revenue for Arvato in Germany, it felt like the right time for me to start a new challenge. Having enjoyed many international experiences during my university period, including several thrilling months working in China, I was looking for a new intercultural experience that could also further my entrepreneurial interests. Arvato´ offer in Italy was the perfect match for me. The firms reputation and 120 skilled Italian employees are enabling me to combine my passion for doing business in a “start-up atmosphere” with the power of a global company. Furthermore, I could adapt my experiences from the print and retail marketing industry to the growing market of E-Commerce. I am excited about the possibilities for e-commerce as it begins to develop in Italy.
QX: When you review the first months: What was most surprising to you?
Stefan: It was a great step for me becoming Managing Director of Arvato Italy. I took responsiblity for all business decisions. Every day I enjoy the width of my topics – from Legal, HR, Operations or Finance to Strategy, Sales and Customer Management issues.
Looking back at the first weeks, there were many surprises – both positive and negative ones. First of all, I was very happy to receive such a warm welcome by such a young and motivated team. They are extremely willing to develop the company and themselves. For those people who like a challenge, this is a fantastic opportunity. The services we offer to Italian clients are of such good standard that we are excited to win over potential new clients. Right now, we are looking for additional young talents that will be working very closely with me. One of the biggest challenges we are facing so far, has been the strict Italian labor law. It´s rigid laws are not always easy to understand from a business perspective. At the same time, my personal experience regarding the cultural exchange increases by every meeting with the union leaders. Additionally, I really appreciate the personal way the Italians do business. I was very surprised how much they appreciate that I am improving my Italian every day, and how hard they try to find a perfect mixture between my Italian, and their English.
QX: What comes to your mind if you think about QX?
Stefan: My QX-experience goes back almost 10 years. The most important thing I have learned at QXs is that work never has to stop if fun coexists. Both are possible - even at the same time! We are always in a relaxed and positive surrounding which makes QX the perfect place for (business)acquaintances to become best friends. The QX-Event in Munich the Oktoberfest and in Frankfurt for X-Mass-QX are my favorite events ;-)
QX: How important is independency and scope for design for you?
Stefan: Both are very important to me. As I explained before, this is one of the reasons why I chose Italy. This position gives me the creative freedom to seamlessly develop and implement a new strategy for the Italian market, with my team. Finding new businesses and customers are the greatest motivation and reward for me. I decided to stay with Arvato and Bertelsmann, because freedom for entrepreneurship comes along with responsibility for employees, resulting in a global company network. For me, this is a great combination.
QX: Considering your private life: What would you not pass on in no case?
Stefan: Family and friends are very important for me. I would never give up seeing them or talking to them regularly for any money or professional reward. At the same time, I am happy that my partner Johanna never hesitated a second to join me in moving to Italy. I love my job, but I work to have a nice living, and not the other way around.
QX: What is your vanity?
Stefan: I love to be in good shape and therefore I do sports as regular as possible.