QX: After working for J. P.Morgan, Lehman Brothers and Blackstone you are negotiating later stage M&A deals for Axel Springer. What were your top three drivers for this career step?
Zoé: Above all, I wanted to join a company in real need for change and contribute to forging and executing a clear strategy. I believe that only where there is absolute necessity to change there is true room for new ideas, a willingness to consequently rework the strategy and a clear commitment to the execution of the latter. Axel Springer being in that position has the capital and more importantly the structures in place to continue having a strong deal flow of high-growth investments. Second, I wanted to immerse in the digital space, work with great management teams and a diverse set of business models. Axel Springer’s digital investment portfolio is international and very diverse ranging from classifieds, to content portals, performance marketing, TV and radio and even mobile apps. Finally, having spent more than eight years abroad in Shanghai, London, Madrid, Paris and New York, I wanted to return to Berlin, where I am originally from, and rediscover this amazing city.
QX: At our LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE 2014 in Melsungen you will share “Leading in Digital” with a like-minded audience. Why are you doing that and what would be the perfect outcome for you?
Zoé: I will speak about leadership in digital because I am personally fascinated by the transition the publishing industry is in. Europe’s largest publisher, Axel Springer,has choosen a radical route towards digitization which I aim to make more transparent to the audience. It has been and continues to be a rocky road, with many successes and quite a couple of controversial decisions. For me, the perfect outcome would be people sharing their ideas for Axel Springer or wanting to work with us, may it be journalists, entrepreneurs or investors.
QX: Every time we meet you, you are excited about your QX-Quality-Time-Group in Berlin?
Zoé: That’s absolutely right! I think it’s really a mix of two things. One is the density of “QX awesomeness” being really high: we are a group of six and I feel like every one of us embodies the QX mentality of striving for excellence while being open-minded and very passionate. Hence, the six of us had an immediate and very unique connection which makes every get-together a lot of fun. The second factor is diversity: we all come from extremely diverse backgrounds with very different profiles, jobs and interests. That makes every meeting an opportunity to learn something new and truly broaden the horizon.
QX: We know that you are passionate about travelling, art, fashion and food. Tell us more about “Zoé in private”.
Zoé: Travelling is my biggest source of inspiration -- I love getting to know cultures from within and take the best of it home with me. May it be the language after spending half a year in Shanghai, the savoir-vivre from my years in Paris, the open-mindedness from my time in New York or the spiritualness from India where I travelled to earlier this year. When I am not travelling I like to enjoy Berlin to the fullest: strolling through Mitte’s galleries and boutiques, going to concerts and hosting dinners for family and friends.
QX: Thank you Zoé for taking the time to do this interview. Finally, we would like to know - What is your personal vanity?
Zoé: You may or may not be surprised… shopping, especially for bags and shoes!