Friday, 10. January 2014

Why digital media

When you ask normally an MBA student what career he wants to pursue upon completion of his program the standard answer is consultant, investment banker or private equities. So, why Digital Media for me then?

When you ask normally an MBA student what career he wants to pursue upon completion of his program the standard answer is consultant, investment banker or private equities. Of course this depends a little bit also on the school he is doing his MBA but this three professions are to a large extend the typical career path after the b-school. Nevertheless, there are also many general managers, some kind of analysts, entrepreneurs or marketers coming normally out of an MBA. However, digital media professions like digital marketing or e-commerce you might (so far) not hear so often unless you are maybe in Stanford. So, why did I choose this career path as the way forward after my MBA? Well, let me try to explain to you.


For me, always having worked somewhere in the IT field I always had a fascination about technology. Technology has driven progress to a large extend in the last couple of decades. Computers, databases, servers, pc’s, notebooks and mobile phones have influenced our everyday life more and more. Hardly any transaction, process or interaction B2C or B2B that does not involve technology. Hence, I was always fascinated about the potential that technology still bears and the possibility to facilitate somehow somebodies live. The professions in the IT field have changed over time. In the beginning there were only scientist able to handle the bulky and complex mainframe computers. People needed to know complex programming languages and almost needed to express what they wanted in bits and bytes. Over time things became easier when more advanced programming languages allowed more people to interact with computers. It was the time when everybody was being trained to program or enter data into the computers. If you had the faintest idea about a computer and were thinking somehow structured you were already a viable candidate to become a well paid programmer. There was so much demand for people in the field that people working in the IT field could allow them almost everything. People were working in shorts and flip-flops, having long hair or no hair, having flexible working hours and were able to smoke in the office. Also, everybody could basically program the way he wanted and if somewhen a program needed to be altered it meant normally that the code was thrown away and re-done from scratch. Nowadays, the IT profession have become very standardized almost a commodity. In my opinion creativity has disappeared quite a bit as more and more standard components have made its way into the companies. The only way to express its creativity was through some kind of GUI gimmicks that nobody really needed. GUIs were blinking and moving in all kind of colors and forms. If you need today software you can outsource it to India, Poland, Russia, Bangladesh or other countries that have specialized themselves in all kind of programming skills. I don’t want to talk about the advantages or disadvantages of outsourcing and how the interaction between the individuals has become more and more standardized and modeled but at least for me the creative aspect has been somewhat lost along the way. 


Like the majority of students I could not clearly express at the beginning of the program what my concrete career goals were. The MBA is a school like any other school where people learn new things, learn from each other and learn about themselves. It is a very interesting process. I knew that I wanted to change something in my career and bring in more creativity in my professional life. I also knew that I wanted to work on something more tangible. Working in a bank or insurance means that the end product is most of the time something abstract. It is maybe a paragraph in a contract, an additional service or a simply a fee. Working in an international environment was also a driver to pursue an MBA. However, from our professors we have learned about the Bermuda triangle of job search. The triangle consists of the following axix: a different job, a different industry and a different country. As a career changer you might be lost in this Bermuda triangle if you would like to change all three factors at once. I knew that I was happy to change at least two factors. 


The digital media is currently undergoing dramatic changes. It was always a dynamic field but nowadays with the convergence of media and the trends towards mobility the paradigm of advertising, selling and branding is changing. Everything becomes social, everything becomes mobile, everything becomes interactive and everything becomes personalized. Even the most traditional industries and companies are learning that they need to become more active when interacting with their clients or suppliers. It is not enough anymore to be simply present in the web. The interaction needs to be flawless, adaptive, consistent, engaging and visually appealing. For me it is extremely fascinating to see how communication is changing, how services are becoming digital and how additional value is created for the individual through new media channels and tools. You might think that Facebook is simply a waste of time, that Twitter are just useless 140 characters or that Instagram and Pinterest are only a hype for the millenniums. For me it is more. No matter whether you believe in those tools and see an underlying potential or not I am convinced that they will impact our living more and faster than you think. Everything is moving digital and the border between the traditional world and the digital world has becomes more and more blurry. I would like to be part of this world as this is an extremely challenging and dynamic environment where we are only scratching on the surface of the real potential. 


Okay, in the dot-com hype a decade ago people were also talking similar that everything is moving towards digital and at the end everything turned out to be a bubble. Only a few companies have survived the dot-com crisis and have meanwhile gained the importance they were supposed to reach. However, I think that meanwhile we have learned more about the importance of sustainable and waterproof business models. I am saying this despite the recent utopic market valuation of companies like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and others. I think that the developed world is ready to reap of the benefits of the digitalization. Bandwidth is nowadays mostly not a real problem anymore and people are using services on their mobile, tablets, tv’s, notebooks and cloud without even thinking about it anymore. I would like to be part of this revolution as it combines not only my interest with my skills and know-how but also my passion. Using new tools, learning about new global trends, listening to digital media evangelist is not work but fun. Isn’t it great to have fun when working? Since my chances to become a professional football player are I think over and becoming a lifeguard on a Hawaiian beach is neither an option I think this is the only way how I can combine my interest and passion with my professional life. Having a passionate and committed workforce is a huge asset for a company. 
Right now I am in discussion with a couple of companies, which are offering positions in the areas that I am aspiring for. After my holidays in South America I’ll return back home and try to finish the ongoing recruitment processes. I am looking forward to have the opportunity to work in this field no matter what options will lead to an actual job offer. At the moment all the positions I am currently in an active hiring process are interesting. Believe it or not it is not that easy to relax in my holidays, as I am constantly thinking about all the different options and where my career will lead. As the jobs are also in different cities and countries it will not only impact me where I will work but also where I will live. I am convinced that all the possible options will result in a positive ROI of my MBA investment for me. 


To be perfectly prepared for the challenges in my professional life ahead I am investing further in my education either by reading and attending online tutorials but also by doing a certification in Digital Media Marketing at NYU and an ongoing application process for an additional Master of Science program at Northwestern University. Isn’t it great if even spending a weekend studying or learning at the beach becomes something you actually enjoy. I am very glad having found something that I am sincerely passionate about. Now I need only to find the best possible career path that matches my interest, knowledge, experience and skills perfectly. Exciting times ahead.