Unconventional is the New Normal - Creative Industry in Change
The bio of Markus Vogelbacher, founder and Managing Director of INTERNATIONAL FILM PARTNERS (IFP) reads as if it offers enough material for at least one blockbuster: Car mechanic, journalist, producer, editor, entrepreneur, Member of the Executive Board of a corporate group, founder, corporate finance structurer, M&A consultant, holds an MBA in General Management and is a producer as well as a lecturer. In this interview, we are talking with him about the topics that we are always curios about − leadership, transformation and the people behind the story.
Talenthelden-Talk: Markus Vogelbacher
Talenthelden: Markus, you say of yourself that your CV is unconventional, would you also describe yourself or your working and leadership style in your current positions as unconventional?
Markus: No, I don’t think my style is unconventional according to current criteria. However, early on I was a fan of positive reinforcement, fair feedback in both directions and individual responsibility in the team. But for that you also need a team that supports that and not everyone can be developed to this point. At the moment, we are very well positioned − due to Covid in a smaller team – and also well gender-balanced again.
Talenthelden: In your job as founder and Managing Director of IFP, you accompany and empower others in special challenges − from business development to M&A. What are the biggest challenges the creative/film production industry is/are currently facing?
Markus: Our clients are usually companies in the creative industries, i.e. production companies, service providers, but also developers, programmers and agencies. My clients are usually excellent in what they offer on the market with high expertise in the core process. Just like my own CV, my clients’ stories are often based on concrete opportunities. We come into play when a challenge keeps the decision-maker from the day-to-day business of making money. This can be a big issue, like business succession, i.e. selling the business. Often, however, it is the annoying things that you could do yourself as an entrepreneur if you had the time. Classically, this concerns topics of business development, i.e. the systematic or operative creation of new market opportunities. For example, we found subsidiaries, introduce digital solutions or take the team with us into a new direction of the respective company.
Globalisation, Digitalisation, Shortage of Skills, Policy Changes & Market Segmentation
Talenthelden: What do you think it takes to master the challenges of your industry? What are the key ingredients for long-term sustainable success, which is more than “just surviving”?
Markus: Change of perspective! As a decision-maker, you are often stuck in a bubble, sometimes quite lonely, without real feedback. We offer platforms to create exchange and get a view from the outside. That is my personal main task with the client: To question strategies, to identify breaks in logic and then – that’s probably the real job – to provide solutions. Often, it’s also about the desired standard of value, i.e. the reference or benchmark. To the question “Was film XY a successful film?” the investor, the director, the viewer and the critic will each have their own answer, which very often do not coincide. The evaluation of intangible values, but also strategies and ideas, with the help of established procedures is our speciality. The most interesting perspective has to be sorted and ultimately evaluated. As business economists, our task is to create efficiency.
Talenthelden: According to a Deloitte-Studie, the creative industries are predicted (in the longer term) to play a role as an engine for economic growth − growth of 40% by 2030, more than 8 million additional jobs in the 9 economies studied. How should “players” position themselves today to still be there tomorrow or do events like pandemic, war and super-fast technological developments show that it is more about agility rather than thinking/planning ahead?
Markus: It is true that the media industry as a whole is playing an increasingly important role and that audiovisual communication is indispensable in virtually all areas of life and business. Would Ukraine have received this support without the media presence? Are elections influenced by social media or whole regimes overthrown? How do I reach my employees in large companies who not only work at different locations but also increasingly from home? AV media is the only way to generate emotional communication and influence decisions.
Talenthelden: When you look into the future of your industry, what do you see? Where is the journey heading? Only Millennials who earn millions with TikToks and YouTube?
Markus: Personally, I don’t see any market fragmentation through influencers. It’s an interesting side effect, but macro-economically it hardly plays a role for creative industries. Technologies are further democratising the market in Western countries. From a global perspective, however, we have to distinguish whether we are talking about market-based or authoritarian framework conditions. About half of humanity does not follow western moral standards, including large democracies like India. Just because processes become faster does not mean time saving. Just because products become easier to access does not change markets. The truth is usually much more complex. In my view, the individual is becoming more central. In the end, advertising for skilled workers does not mean just anyone. A company wants to reach a clientele with clear characteristics and skills. Market offers are not geared to desirable solutions, but to needs backed by purchasing power. The desire for fair and sustainable behaviour is gaining global acceptance. So the question will be how to break down the UN’s 17 sustainability goals to the individual. In my opinion, those who can reconcile these goals will have the best chances of success in the competition.
Meaning of life gains in importance
Talenthelden: Is there anything else you would like to say but we haven’t asked yet?
Markus: The meaning of life, why do I do something, is gaining importance. Possessions are subordinated to benefits. Unfortunately, not all of the world follows Western thinking about standards and justice. And unfortunately, there are usually no easy answers to unresolved questions. If one accepts every day as a challenge, a certain gamification effect is created. With this, I personally try to put my meaning in life into action every day and enjoy small successes without paying too much attention to the inevitable failure. Productive realism instead of optimistic idealism.
Talenthelden: Welche Erfahrungen hast du in deinem persönlichen Arbeitsalltag gemacht? Vor, während und nach Corona? Welche physische Arbeitsumgebung hat auf dein Wohlbefinden welchen Einfluss?
Ann Sophie: Spannende Frage. Tatsächlich habe ich es mir zuhause wirklich gemütlich gemacht, in meinem ganz persönlichen „Office Jungle“. Dort fällt es mir leicht, mich zu konzentrieren und ich schätze es nun, da ich wieder teilweise im Büro arbeite, sehr wert, dass ich zuhause komplett visuell und akustisch ungestört arbeiten kann. Auch die kleinen Pausen zwischendrin und ab und zu ein kurzes Schläfchen nach dem Mittagessen tun mir sehr gut. Ganz ohne moralischen Support lief es aber auch nicht gut, daher habe ich gemeinsam mit anderen Doktorandinnen eine Zoom Gruppe, die gemeinsam 8:30 Uhr mit dem Arbeiten startet. Zudem möchte ich betonen, dass ich in einer privilegierten Situation arbeiten darf. Viele haben weder die Abgetrenntheit noch die Ruhephasen in ihrer Heimarbeitssituation und müssen deutlich mehr Rollen gleichzeitig meistern.
10 Rapid Fire Questions
- When you think of “digitalisation”, you first think of … fax machines in German administrations.
- When you think of “transformation”, you first think of … positive energy, because change means stability.
- When you think of “network”, you first think of … access to a view of myself from the outside.
- Vinyl or Spotify? Piano
- Drama or science fiction? Action and Romantic Comedies
- Tea or coffee? Depends. Black coffee in the morning, tea at lunchtime.
- Favourite travel destination? Italy
- Last Google search: Nurseries in Munich
- What are you watching right now? NTV
- Film everyone should have seen? Weißbier im Blut