Interview
15/02/2022

10 questions for… Stefanie Menzel

In our “10 questions for…” series, we interview employees from all over the company so that Burda - and their colleagues - can get to know them even better. Today, we talk to Stefanie Menzel, project manager at Burda Create! Stefanie reveals what she loves about her job and what tracing sheets and customs have to do with it all.

What are you working on right now?

As a project manager at Burda Create!, I look after special projects such as events, conferences and workshops. As a personal assistant to Henning Röper, CEO of Burda Create!, I am responsible for organising his everyday life, travel and appointments. My door is always open and I’m always happy to support and advise my colleagues. I also look after the global licensing partners for our Burda Style sewing and fashion magazines, which are now available in 17 languages. I cover everything from the order processes for our tracing sheets to reporting, invoicing and customs.

When did you join our company and what did you do before?

I’ve been working here since March 2013 and started as an assistant to the editors at Burda Style under the leadership of Dagmar Bily. I’d previously worked in this area and this role at other magazine publishers in Munich and came to Burda via personal recommendations. “Burda Moden” was a part of my childhood. My mum and grandma had drawers bursting with single patterns. And I wore unique pieces that they had created. I got my first children’s sewing machine when I was 10, and even now I like to sit at my machine and turn my ideas into material. It’s an honour to work for a magazine that’s been on the market since 1950 and was managed by our publisher’s mother. The film “Aenne Burda – Economic Wonder Woman (Aenne Burda – Die Wirtschaftswunderfrau)” is a great reminder of just how unusual that was.

What skills does your job require?

A passion for a specific topic. Ambition, talent and openness. I've always loved organising things – I’m a perfectionist who loves detail. The end result is what drives me. But you also need a knack for logistics and clear thinking. I’m always open to constructive criticism and ideas from managers and colleagues. Things can always be (even) better. I’ve learned a lot in recent years and expanded my expertise and area of responsibility, and I enjoy contributing my knowledge and experience.

Is there a project of which you’re especially proud?

I’m proud of how my career has developed. I left school at 16 with no vocational training, started working straight away as a clerk at a magazine publisher, and now I’m sitting here as a project manager. If you stick at it and make the right decisions for you, then you’ll keep moving forward. A few years ago, I completed a distance learning course in my spare time and earned a degree in management assistance. We’ve had (and have) so many great projects at Burda Create! that it’s hard to know where to begin. The biggest thing I’ve done was to manage a major renovation and relocation project with architects and tradespeople. It demanded a lot of me but it was such a joy. And in 2019, before the pandemic, I organised a two-day international licensing conference which brought together 12 countries and colleagues from around the world. There was also the time when, inspired by an in-house workshop, my wonderful colleagues and I launched the company-wide “Stammtisch for Assistants” in Munich – hopefully, once the pandemic is over, we’ll be able to run in-person events again.

What’s your next big goal?

I think that’s yet to come. Most recently, it was the renovation and relocation to our new offices. We even managed to hold a little office warming party – socially distanced, of course.

How has the pandemic changed your job and private life?

The early stages of the pandemic were extremely challenging. It was difficult to juggle home working, the office, my household, leisure and family with looking after a kindergarten-age child, sometimes by myself. And that was combined with all the restrictions and disruption to our normal routine. But there were enjoyable moments that we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise and that we can now appreciate. Spending my lunch break helping my daughter practise on her bicycle and shopping at the weekly market. A slightly more relaxed start to the day because I didn’t need to leave the house. Luckily, we can be flexible in our working hours, which allows us to spread some tasks over the day and evening. And we've realised that long meetings aren’t necessary for every discussion and decision and that it may be possible to slightly reduce the deluge of emails.

What advice have you found helpful throughout your life?

Believe in yourself. You are strong. Look ahead. Breathe. You can do it. Trust yourself.

Any tips for career starters?

Ask lots of questions. Take notes and be open to new things. Get to know colleagues from other areas and use your contacts. Plans may be disrupted and set you back, but you can always keep going and find new paths.

How do you switch off outside work?

Putting my feet up on my terrace lounger, looking out at the landscape, discussing the day with my husband and painting pictures with my daughter. Cooking, exercising and walking with friends and family soon help to clear my mind.

What are you most looking forward to in 2022?

Being spontaneous (!) and going wherever I like without hesitation, masks, worries or restrictions. Travelling whenever and wherever I like. Dancing my heart out in a club and seeing all the smiling faces at the theatre – without any sort of covering! I’m really looking to that!

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