Interview
19/09/2022

Ask the boss: Christian Teichmann

If a company invites you for an interview, then you have already overcome the first hurdle in the application process. How can you prepare for the interview? The #AskTheBoss series provides insights into different departments. This time, we talked to Christian Teichmann, CEO at BurdaPrincipal Investments (BPI), the growth capital arm of Hubert Burda Media.

You've been with Burda since 2015 – what makes your job so exciting?

The variety of people, our diverse, international team and the variety of markets and topics. That's a lot of fun and drives me every day. We see different new business models on a daily basis and many of them are completely ahead of their time. And that’s exactly what is so exciting about the job: We have the opportunity to deal a lot with the future. Another aspect is of course the fact that we are active internationally, with offices in Singapore, London, Berlin, and Munich.

How does the international exchange between the units work and can employees also change their location for a while to gain new insights?

We actively promote international exchange at BPI: colleagues from Singapore have already been to Munich, colleagues from London have been to Berlin, Munich colleagues have spent time in London and Singapore. Everyone benefits from this exchange, and it gives our younger colleagues much better insights into the different markets we operate in. International experience is not a hiring criterion for us, but if you don't want to work internationally, but only in your local market, you're in the wrong place.

What does the application process look like?

We conduct many interviews, typically six. In the beginning, a younger colleague from the same peer level talks to the candidate. This is followed by a case study: the candidates can choose a company themselves and present why they think it would be a good investment for BPI. This is less about the company itself and more about the candidate's approach. We want to see whether they have a feeling for a well-performing business model and whether they can think their way into the topic. In the next step, candidates have to take an Excel test, followed by further interviews with colleagues from the senior level. And finally, there is another meeting with me and possibly also with Martin Weiss.

From the cover letter to the interview: Can you provide us with some tips on how to convince you?

The cover letter is rather less decisive, it's the interviews that have to convince us. We want the candidates to enjoy dealing with new topics and that they can empathise with consumers from different countries as well as with new business models. During the interview, the investment process is also a topic, of course, and we clarify to a certain extent whether there is a feeling for the approach.

Is there a question you always ask during job interviews?

I always ask this question: what are your plans for the next five years and where do you want to be in five years? It is important that we have a common understanding of what we want to achieve at BPI over the years. People should not only join for one year and then leave for another opportunity. We invest a lot of time in their development and training. For this reason, it is crucial that we have the same understanding and define the job as a platform which is our basis for working together for the next three to five years.

What kind of development and training opportunities do you offer your staff?

On the one hand, colleagues at higher levels naturally contribute a lot of their time for development when they work together with younger colleagues on a daily basis. In addition, we have a very systematic way of development based on the role profiles of each level: for each position, there is a precise role description, based on which we decide on any opportunities to further develop. This is part of the annual review process. Depending on the topic, we may also work with a coach. In addition to the formal annual reviews, there is also a more informal six-month review and other informal catch-ups where we discuss the progress. With this approach, we work on developing everyone to the next level.

What should your ideal job candidates bring to the table?

In the recruiting process, we make sure that our younger colleagues are curious. It’s the mindset of "curiosity" which is crucial, not so much the previous experience. In our team, we all have very different backgrounds and that is also important for the venture capital business. But what’s essential is a feeling for numbers and scale. Without that, it will be difficult.

What makes BPI an attractive employer for applicants? What else does BPI offer that other employers don't?

We offer an exciting task, a very international job in a small team which helps you learn a lot and further develop. I believe that we are a very permeable platform: Everyone can develop their skills across all hierarchical levels. That is also important to us because apart from traditional capital, people are the biggest asset for our business. As discussed in the beginning, the opportunities to get to know another country, another city and another office are also a special asset of BPI. And what also sets us apart is our team culture, which is described on our website: A culture that combines a lot of IQ with EQ (emotional intelligence). Empathy and emotional intelligence play an important role and I think this is something that we perhaps live more than others in the field. This is certainly also shaped by the corporate and entrepreneurial culture at Burda, which we have strongly integrated here at BPI.

What tips would you give to young professionals?

Be curious from the beginning. When you're young, you're easily tempted to do job-hopping and to switch from one job to another because you think the other one is a bit better. I think it's important to take your time in the beginning and use the platform offered to develop yourself. Then you can always look further. Young people should have a certain amount of patience – with themselves, their employer, and their colleagues.

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