10 Questions for Dirk Poschenrieder
In our format “Oberwasser,” we take the time to engage with decision-makers and specialists in the communication industry, gaining thought-provokinginsights. Oberwasser provides substantial insights into the business and the industry from those who know it best, such as Dirk Poschenrieder.
- Name: Dirk Poschenrieder
- Job / Company: Managing Director Havas Life
- My Corona skill (things I learned during Corona): Remote pitches can be fun but can never replace live presentations.
- On which platform were you most active during the lockdown, and what content did you consume on it?
One of my favorite channels is Twitter, despite the often exhausting “negative communication” surrounding Corona. That’s one reason why I stayed away from Facebook. Another appreciated channel during this time was Instagram – nice pictures, no conspiracy theories, no negative posts. Life can be so simple.
- How do you manage to stay professionally and personally connected despite the distance?
Although we’ve been back in the office since mid-May, we avoid business trips as much as possible. International flights for internal network meetings are still prohibited. My last flight was in late February, and I’m concerned about my miles with Miles & More.
- Since Corona, no day has been the same, and decisions made yesterday may not matter today. How do you motivate yourself daily?
But isn’t that always the case in our job and particularly as a leader? You make decisions at a certain point in time, to the best of your knowledge. Things might change quickly, requiring new decisions or revisiting old ones. I don’t see significant differences from the “normal business routine.” The “advantage” that came from Corona, if you want to call it that, is that nobody has experience with this type of crisis. There’s no right or wrong. Sometimes you have to trust your gut, listen to what the experts say, and evaluate it for yourself.
- How will the Corona crisis influence your work environment long term?
- You’re probably referring to home office, right? We already had it before, so no significant change for us. What I hope for is that clients also realize not every meeting needs to be in person, and many things can be solved through video calls. In our business, there are often unnecessary travels, like a flight from Düsseldorf to Munich for a one-hour meeting. That’s no longer necessary, and it’s good for the environment and climate.
- Do you think Germany needed Corona to advance digital transformation?
- No! “Needed” is certainly the wrong term. Zoom meetings are not a genuine digital transformation. If anything good came out of this mess, it’s the realization of how far behind Germany is in digitalization. I’ll just mention the topic of school. In my daughter’s school in NRW (she’s in the upper grades), there was NO (digital) teaching during the lockdown. And I mean truly no teaching. If a teacher did get in touch, assignments were sent via email as pictures taken from textbooks. Explanations? Assistance? None! Perhaps the “digital transformation” in schools will be accelerated now, and a more focused approach will be taken? I hope so, but the situation in 2020 is genuinely alarming.
- Who is your “hidden champion” in the Corona crisis?
Good question. In my opinion “hidden champions” are all the companies that manage to come out of the crisis reasonably unscathed and secure jobs for their employees, whether it’s a pizzeria, advertising agency, or painting business. Nothing is more burdensome for people than losing their jobs during a crisis and having to search for new ones.
- Is Corona still a dominant topic for you, or are issues like #blacklivesmatters, Trump, or the next vacation more important?
Of course, other topics are slowly taking center stage again, but I believe Corona will accompany us for a very, very long time. Sometimes more intensely, sometimes less. It’s nice that other issues are slowly gaining importance again. Meeting with family and friends, my nephew’s enrollment, and whether Werder Bremen will have a better season than last year (a very personal topic for me).
- Do you think Corona has made you and all of us more critical?
I’m not referring to myself, but I sometimes feel that people have not become more critical in terms of “discourse” but rather more sensitive and sometimes even more aggressive. Corona has focused a magnifying glass on our society, and part of it follows the advice of politics and science, while a (fortunately small) part does not. Communicating with each other has become tougher, especially on platforms like Facebook. That’s one of the reasons why I’m hardly active there anymore. It’s just too exhausting and personally adds no value. Maybe it’s time to delete the account, but I haven’t made a final decision on that yet.
- Do you believe brands/companies should react to these issues now, or is it better to ignore them?
Good question. I’m a bit undecided. The reaction should be a fit for the brand and be authentic. If, during the lockdown phase, I see the umpteenth commercial from an automaker applauding healthcare workers, it doesn’t feel genuine and just becomes annoying. Purpose for the sake of purpose has never been meaningful and a good guide. But I really believe that consumers would like to see/hear something different again.
- Your tip to stay afloat during Corona
Going for a walk with my dog (she can finally walk without a leash, and I’m proud of it!) or simply hopping on the Harley without a phone and destination and driving around. It gives me confidence! And also helps me relax and unwind.