The 2018 financial year has proved a success for Hubert Burda Media. With consolidated external turnover of €2.664 billion, the company has repeated the previous year’s result.
Dark red velvet covers, lush wood panels and a spacious feel. You might be picturing a cosy lounge, but we are, in fact, in the Plymouth Voyager (92 series) owned by Lisa Brack, editor-in-chief of Chip.de. “This is my Holy Cow – I inherited her from my dad”, says Lisa, manoeuvring the huge car out of a tiny parking space in Munich’s Au district.
“I always wanted to be a pilot”
As part of our “Want to join me?” interview series, I accompanied Lisa on her way to work. The BurdaForward headquarters, home to the Chip editorial team, is just a 13-minute drive from her house.
“Actually, I always wanted to be a pilot”, she says, turning on her indicator. Today – after following an unusual career path – she finds herself at the helm of Germany’s largest online tech medium. After working as a banker, she applied for a managerial position with the Bravo Screenfun reader service. The editor-in-chief was won over by her sample work – which reflected her interest in entertainment electronics and gaming – and immediately offered her an editing job: “I trained on the job. I’m very good at learning the ropes.” She then worked as a manager in the mobile phone department of Xonio.com: “I was stood in a pharmacy when they called to offer me the job. I negotiated my salary with Uwe Baltner, then editor-in-chief, standing by the shampoo”, she remembers, bursting out laughing.
But how did she come to be so fascinated by technology and innovation?
“I have two older sisters, and when I was born, my father probably thought ‘another girl! I guess I’ll just have to teach HER all the boys’ stuff’. I had a C64, an Amiga, a Mega Drive and, of course, my beloved Dreamcast.”
Lisa Brack, editor-in-chief at Chip.de
Her father also left her an old Vespa, and from spring to autumn she can be seen flouting all of Munich’s traffic laws. Mobility is important to Lisa, and she is constantly on the move. She keeps a horse in the south of Munich and goes for frequent rides. “This evening I’m driving a hydrogen-powered test car. I find e-mobility and sustainable energy sources absolutely fascinating”, she says.
Throughout her journalistic career, she has followed the digital technology revolution, helping readers to grasp these concepts. She has confidence in the future of the tech industry. Self-promotion on social media platforms will at some point decline, while digital innovations will become even more integral to our everyday lives. Voice recognition, robotics, automation, artificial intelligence and sustainability will play a major role in the years to come.
The tiresome question
The time has come to address that tiresome question: “What is it like to be a woman in an industry seemingly dominated by men?” Lisa immediately recalls a situation from a few years back: “I went to a press event for a new mobile phone. After the presentation, a man approached me. He’d mistaken me for one of the waiting staff and wanted to order some food. At the evening meal, the new device was passed from one journalist to the next. When my turn came, they ignored me. The device was simply passed to the next man. They assumed I was there as decoration and not as a tech journalist. However, gender has never played a role in any of my editorial teams.”
Lisa herself is perfect proof that women can make it to the top in tech journalism. “My father always encouraged me to assert myself as a woman. He imbued me and my sisters with this self-image, and it has accompanied me throughout my life”, she says with pride.
Arriving at BurdaForward, Lisa’s “Holy Cow” has earned a rest. At 26, the car isn’t as young as it used to be: “I don’t use her to travel long distances and she’s still in good condition. She’s never let me down at an inspection, and I’m very grateful for that – even if she is pretty thirsty.” I can’t help but smile as Lisa speaks about her car. She treats it as though it has a soul – and she definitely sees it as female.