This week we head to Germany to meet Matthias Ehrlich, president of the German trade association of the digital industry. Matthias will be speaking at this year’s d3con in March; the first and largest German RTA industry event since 2011, which attracts more than 1000 participants from the leading agencies, publishers and service providers of the real time advertising industry.

Job title and company:

President of the German Trade Association of the Digital Industry (Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft (BVDW) e.V.)

In one sentence, how would you describe what the company does?

The BVDW is the central advocacy for companies that operate digital business models and are active in the field of digital value creation. It has made its business to illustrate efficiency and benefits of digital offers – contents, services and technologies – and thus to support and promote their use in the overall economy, society and administration. In constant dialogue with politicians, the public and other national and international stakeholders BVDW supports results-oriented, practically and effectively the dynamic development of the digital industry in Germany.

What are the company’s unique selling points?

BVDW is the only fully dedicated nationwide association of the digital economy in Germany. With member companies from all segments of the Internet industry the BVDW is positioned interdisciplinary and thus has a holistic view on the issues of the digital economy. The BVDW is a competent partner for current issues and developments in the digital industry in Germany and provides important guidance to one of the key fields of the future of the German economy.

Within the last six months/year, what stands out as the company’s major milestones?

Out of Germany we have positioned important and proven principles as the pseudonymous data processing and self-regulation of the online advertising industry in the negotiations on the European Data Protection Regulation. This is an important contribution to a practical approach to harmonise a strong and effective data protection with the economy’s need to use data for future-proofing its businesses. Furthermore by establishing the DDOW in Germany we have successfully implemented self-regulation in the area of online behavioural advertising round here and across the EU, giving users full transparency and control of data collection and data use, combined with an easy to practice opt-out.

Duration in current role:

Almost two years after belonging to the trade association’s executive committee for six years.

Where are you based?

With BVDW in Duesseldorf and Berlin, with my own company in Munich.

Previous performance marketing-related companies you have worked at:

United Internet AG – Europe’s leading internet specialist (WEB.DE, GMX, United Internet Media, United Internet Dialog).

What are your main job responsibilities?

Besides the overviewing responsibilies of a leader of the board on one hand promoting und procuring sector strategic and political opinion making and opinion articulation as well as advocacy for the various industry segments in the digital economy in Germany on national (Berlin) und European Level (Brussels), on the other hand shaping the trade asscociation’s further progression according to developments and political and economical demands of digital economy; both tasks in close collaboration with the vice presidents, my colleagues in the executive committee of the BVDW.

Take us through what you get up to on a typical working Monday:

My Mondays are – as surely for many of us – typical “kick-off for the week” days. First of all I rearrange my schedules and my to-dos in asana and todo pro. The political reportis concerning the digital economy from Berlin and Brussels show potential incidents for the week. Afterwards preparing diverse status meetings on current projects and topics in both BVDW and my companies. The regular BVDW steering committee call is also taking place on Mondays. And as I try to be present in Munich on Mondays as often as possible, it is also the day to meet friends, partners and others for business lunch – always an inspiring kick-off of my working week.

What top three websites can you be found browsing during your lunch hour?

Lunch hour is for communication only. I always meet someone either from inside or someone from other companies, press or investors.

What are your top three tips for someone looking to get their hands on a job like yours?

  1. Do not run for money, it usually will find those who really push hard and concentrate on their ambitious goals.
  2. Be yourself, not only think different, but dare to be different although you may not get applause first hand. Stay authentic and burn for what you’re doing! You are in a special time – starters are for new things.
  3. And today’s digital business is one thing above all – disruptive –, what an excellent playground for those who really fight. So, fight if you really want to succeed and survive with ambitious goals.

Career-wise, where do you see yourself in three years’ time?

Being president of the BVDW is not an aim in itself. You are elected, if you have proven your way throughout your businesses and your career. Besides building up my own businesses, my goals concerning my volunteer engagement and the honour of being President of BVDW, is to successfully lead the change process with the BVDW in an extending and itself refining digital business in Germany. If we succeed in providing a positive political, economical and social framework for implementing an independent, strong, globally competitive and sustainable digital industry in this country we shall have done a good job. Until then it’s still a long way to go, and I would like to help shape the future of our young and dynamic industry with creativity and power. Moreover, I am an entrepreneur for nearly two years now, active in strategic consulting, project and investment business. Both responsibilities are an excellent job fitting.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?

I hate to install or construct something on my own in my private life, I prefer to completely rely on others – experts for sure – like my wife.