Interview
20/09/2023

10 questions for... Emily Lai

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For the interview series "10 Questions for...", we spoke with Emily Lai today. She is the Strategic Finance Manager at Burda International in Munich. In the interview, Emily shares how she buys companies instead of clothes, how she juggles with finances, and what her tricks are for more effective work.

Our publisher's favourite question: What are you working on at the moment?  

One of my current tasks is the post-merger integration of Extra Online Media. In May, we acquired the Czech online media company, which has a strong digital portfolio in the People (extra.cz), Food (toprecepty.cz) & Woman and Lifestyle (lifee.cz) sectors. Our online presence in the Czech Republic has been significantly strengthened by this acquisition. We are unifying the structures and processes of both companies (Burda International CZ and Extra Online Media) in the post-merger integration. I also support the finance work stream here, which includes tasks such as integrating the reporting structures of the acquired company with ours and preparing everything on the systems side so that the figures can be run in our business intelligence tool.

When did you join Burda and what did you do before?  

I joined Burda in 2019 and participated in the management trainee programme. Prior to that, I completed my Master's in management and technology at the Technical University of Munich.

What fascinates you about your job?

So far, I have had the opportunity to take on many different projects and responsibilities in an international environment. For example, I set up the financial reporting for Cocolita (Polish beauty e-commerce), built investment decks, looked for suitable acquisition opportunities together with the Czech team and supervised the MORE trainee project in social commerce. I am constantly learning, being challenged, and supported in my work. I have fantastic colleagues.

What skills do you need for your job?

I think the most important skills are: analytical thinking, quick comprehension, intercultural competence and assertiveness.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

My biggest challenge so far has been figuring out what I want to do after my Master's degree. I have a lot of interests, so it was difficult to make a decision. I found out about the Management Trainee Programme at a career fair at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). It was the perfect way for me to start my career because I was able to work on many different projects. One exciting project, for example, was to improve the usability of the EFahrer.com website and create briefings for the UX team.

What are the most important tools that you use to work more effectively?

I don't have a tool, but I do have a method that has helped me work effectively so far: I break down big tasks into smaller to-dos and write down my priorities for the day every morning. I use Outlook every day to set reminders for myself. This helps me keep track of when I need to complete certain tasks and makes sure I don't miss any deadlines.

Which book has broadened your horizons?

The book "Factfulness" by Hans Rosling. I think in times of fake news and information overload, we should be aware of how important it is to form our own opinions based on numbers, data and facts.

What is your next big goal?

I have many smaller goals, like taking a surfing course for the first time. But one big goal this year is charity work: A few weeks ago, I was able to visit a charity and was very impressed by their work and purpose. I want to be more active and get involved with this over the next few months.

Work-life balance: What is the best way for you to switch off in your free time?

I can switch off very well when I go boxing. I also like to draw in my free time. At the moment, I'm learning to draw on the iPad.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

I'm looking forward to the exciting projects I have coming up and my holiday in Milan.

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More images & downloads

When people enter Emily’s office, they can’t see her straight away because she’s hidden by the monitors. That’s why she put the smiling sloth people on her desk to greet people with a smile © HBM

The smiling sloth sits on Emily’s desk and greets people with a smile © HBM

Next to the “Fearless Girl” statue in front of the New York Stock Exchange in New York © HBM

With my Burda colleagues Frederik, Maja, Dennis (from left to right) © HBM

A photo from a holiday in Sapa (Vietnam) © HBM

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