Burda Procurement

#AskTheBoss: Roman Miserre


If a company invites you for an interview, then you’ve cleared the first hurdle in the application process. So how do you prepare? And what makes your future boss tick? The #AskTheBoss series answers these questions while providing an insight into different departments.

Today we talk to Roman Miserre, Managing Director at Burda Procurement GmbH.

Energy prices are soaring, magazine paper is growing scarce, your key supplier has been striking for months in Finland and the war in Ukraine has exacerbated supply chain issues. How is Burda Procurement dealing with these challenges? 

To be totally honest, I have never experienced anything like this in all my time as a manager or purchaser. At times the situation seems to grow worse by the hour. At Burda Procurement, we have always seen ourselves as a company that offers our clients competitive advantages – sometimes by securing greater savings, sometimes by improving security of supply. In times like these, procurement managers end up acting more like crisis managers. 

You’ve been with Burda for 20 years – what makes your job so interesting?

The fact that “my job” has kept pace with my curiosity and personal development over the years. I have worked at many of our companies in roles such as legal adviser, HR manager, CFO and managing director. Right now I am the managing director of Burda Procurement GmbH, Hubert Burda Media’s purchasing arm. I have also taken one long and one short sabbatical between these jobs. So if you’re looking for someone credible to tell you how Burda enables people to follow unconventional career paths by giving them responsibility and freedom, then you can – no, you have to – call me. I think Burda itself is what makes the job so interesting. If we hadn’t evolved so consistently and thoroughly over the last 20 years, there wouldn’t have been so many fascinating jobs for me along the way.

Burda Procurement is known for its learning culture. What exactly makes it so special? 

To be successful and enjoy our work for another 20 years, we will need particular skills – for example, how good am I at data-driven storytelling and actively moderating change and relationships, how quickly do I adopt new knowledge, how consistently do I use added value and customer relationships as the starting point of my actions… You don’t learn these things by going to a fancy seminar once every two years, so we organise internal training sessions every two weeks and additional multi-day training twice a year. Just the other day, we held a session on negotiation with a situation that seemed impossible to resolve (spoiler: we found a solution). We organise all these training sessions ourselves. Most of us are coaches for specific topics and help to drive the team as a whole. We embark on this journey of learning together by cultivating a very open culture of feedback that demands a lot of us all.

What do you look for in an application? 

The philosophy of “hire for the mindset, train the skills” has always worked well for me. Why? Well, I can change a person’s skills, but I can’t change their mindset. But most applications I see only tell me about a person’s professional skills, not what makes them tick, or how hungry they are. So I use the left side of my brain to assess the qualifications listed, and the right side to search their CV for patterns that tell me about their courage, curiosity and sense of responsibility. Oh, and this might be old-fashioned – my team laugh about it – but spelling mistakes put me off. Some situations require absolute concentration, and proofreading your CV is one of them. 

The Burda Procurement recruitment process includes a four-hour assessment centre. How does that work? 

It’s similar to the ACs run by consultancy companies. We use various simulated situations to determine how analytical a person is, how well they communicate and whether they have this slightly paranoid desire for constant growth both as an individual and as a team.

What’s the best way for a candidate to win you over in their final interview? 

There’s no “killer skill”. A person has many facets. But authenticity, confident humour and a certain sense of inner order do help.

What qualities would your dream candidate have? 

They should feel something ignite inside them when they look at our Culture Deck. We spent a long time putting it together and think of it as our team’s guiding light. If you don’t feel this spark, then you’d probably be better off knocking on someone else’s door. We take the last paragraph pretty seriously: “The Procurement by Burda team won’t be right for everyone. Some people prefer to work for a company that offers its employees fixed process guidelines, clear hierarchies and leniency, even in the face of average performance. Our culture is for people who value their colleagues’ excellent achievements as a way of fulfilling their own ambitious goals.” 

What’s your top tip for career starters? 

Don’t be unnerved by the many options that will be presented to you, particularly at first. Seek out an environment that will allow you to discover what comes easily and what gets you into a flow that will leave you exhausted yet satisfied at the end of the working week. Where these two factors intersect, you will find your potential for professional success and happiness. It might sound like a melodramatic platitude, but that’s how it goes. And I really believe it’s true. 

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Roman Miserre, Managing Director at Burda Procurement GmbH, (c) HBM

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