Maria Einhorn, a true Berlin native, studied visual communication at the Bauhaus University in Weimar. In 2016, the design graduate joined Strichpunkt as Senior Project Manager and has recently been promoted to Director Project Design. Sounds unusual? It does. But makes total sense: Maria is strongly content-driven and has been consistently applying her passion for good content, communication and project management since her studies. But not only her background, but also her incredibly open and positive nature make her the perfect interface between design & content, client ideas & implementation. Maria is a mother of three children and persistently questions learned mechanisms and role models - both privately and professionally. Driven by curiosity and optimism, at Strichpunkt she is responsible for the financial communication of Andritz, the Zalando sustainability report, employer branding and transformation projects, among others. In the interview, you will learn what makes good content, what Maria fights for tirelessly and what courage means to her.
SP: You have a degree in design, but slowly developed into a project manager with a focus on consulting - do you sometimes miss being active in design yourself?
Maria: In the beginning it was hard to resist the reflex to simply join in. But in the meantime I can say: no - because just because I don't do graphic design doesn't mean I'm not creative and that I don't create things. In a typical project, two sides often collide in the beginning: most clients often think of a finished product when they commission us. The designers - of whom we have incredibly good ones at Strichpunkt - always want to use all their skills and potential for the job. I see myself as an interface here: I studied visual communication and, in addition to design, have always had a strong focus on the mechanisms of communication. That's why I can't help but step in, mediate both sides and develop the projects both in terms of content and structure. This is what I am passionate about. Especially in a client relationship of several years, it's great to see what we achieve as a team.
SP: How do you perceive the development of financial and sustainability communication in recent years?
Maria: Both areas have existed for a long time apart from the public eye: Companies reported on fixed dates - depending on their obligations - and the results were only read by a very small target group. In recent years, however, there has been some movement in this area: Sustainable corporate governance has become a must. Companies that do not report transparently on their efforts and progress towards sustainability in value creation and supply chains, on their CO2 balance, working conditions, etc., are now clearly left behind. And not only in the financial market, but also in the B2C sector, more and more attention is being paid to sustainable corporate governance. This is of course very effective and the strategies of companies are being adapted accordingly. So financial and sustainability communication currently has the job of being able to announce actual changes of course, sometimes with major effects. Therefore, new exciting formats are being developed that reach a lot of people throughout the year.
SP: And what do you say to someone who thinks that corporate communications is boring?
Maria: Corporate communication is often dismissed as window dressing, inferior per se and externally determined. But: No matter whether investor, NGO, customer or employee - everyone critically assesses a company on the basis of its communication. A company must therefore think carefully about what it communicates. Transparency and honesty are absolutely essential - otherwise things can quickly backfire in our interconnected world of communication. However, it is simply not possible not to communicate: information on transformations and strategy adjustments to meet challenges such as digitalisation and climate change are demanded by the public. Good communication not only reports facts to the outside world, but also enters into dialogue. It helps companies to align themselves and make an impact - what's boring about that?
SP: What defines good content for you?
Maria: Recognising good content is easy: you stay tuned, you feel picked up and you gain knowledge. However, I know from practical experience that creating good content is not that easy. The biggest hurdle is the perspective: the starting point should be the recipients, not the senders. On the one hand, this requires a well-founded analysis of the target groups, but on the other hand it requires the courage to reduce and focus, but also to go on for a while and to emotionalise. Good storytelling is a real challenge, especially for companies that often have many stakeholders to consider. Many details, explanations and communication channels only make sense if they are viewed from within the company structures. But when it succeeds, very positive and inspiring content is created.
SP: You are incredibly energetic, positive and optimistic - where do you find inspiration, what motivates you?
Maria: On the one hand, I'm just like that - enthusiasm and energy have fortunately always been part of my personality. On the other hand, I am also very curious and gaining knowledge motivates me enormously. So I often just ask and as soon as I understand reasons and goals, I am fascinated and on board. Since I see through myself in that regard, I make use of this mechanism and can motivate myself quickly and sustainably. Another plus point is that when you make an effort to really understand something, a change of perspective is easy and paths appear that might otherwise remain closed. This increases the success rate enormously; you stay flexible and optimistic. On top of that, I don't shy away from conflicts in the matter at hand and I like to fight with a lot of energy for issues that I am convinced of. Equal rights and the compatibility of family and work, for example, are issues that I constantly stand up for and try to bring forward. As a mother of three daughters, I not only have our current social reality in mind, but also draw a lot of energy from an idea of the future that I wish for our children.
SP: What does courage mean to you personally?
Maria: I think that often it is not really courage that we need to go forward. Rather, fear and reservations hold us back. Sounds like an often-heard saying, but it actually works very well for me. Because not doing something only to hastily prove fears right is often just a great pity and keeps us from valuable new experiences and encounters. It also doesn't build up the confidence that you can cope with new situations, that you are flexible and that under certain circumstances you can do much more than you would have thought. So for me, courage is to look closely, to confront your own fears and to admit that, even with super careful planning and detailed consideration, not everything usually turns out the way you think anyway. And then to make a decision - and no matter what it is, to stand by it.
SP: What experience has brought you further in life?
Maria: To close the circle of questions: Professionally, the experience was important for me that my studies were only a starting point - even though I thought it was great and was committed to it, my CV developed differently and I am very happy to cover aspects in what I do now that I once thought I had excluded through my choice of studies.
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