I grew up in a large family in a small village in the South of Germany. It’s lovely there, but I knew early on that I had to get out. I was punk, I was goth, I was shy, I was weird, I dropped out of high school. Working in a pants factory got old really fast, so I went on a popular German game show, made some money and ran away to London - note on the pillow, early morning train, that kind of departure.

With no qualifications, no connections and dodgy English my career prospects were limited. I worked in fast food joints and cafeterias for a couple of years, then decided to step up my game by learning typing and shorthand. I was a secretary for an additional few years, which gave me the confidence to think about continuing my education. I took evening classes for a year and did my A-levels (SATs). I did pretty well, and got accepted by Oxford University, where I studied psychology and philosophy. 

And then BBH London offered me the only trainee planner spot for the year. Which takes us to the beginning of my official résumé.

It’s a bit of an unusual bio, I’ll admit, but I thought it’s worth including. I’ve learned a lot in those poverty years, the years of doing menial jobs, where I was just another foreigner.

  • Empathy - if you're forever on the outside you're forced to figure out how the rest of the world thinks and feels

  • Fearlessness - realizing that the only way to create change is to make big bets

  • Humility - respecting people from every walk of life, because they could be me, and I could be them

  • Gratitude - even when things are bad, it's not scrubbing toilets for three dollars an hour

  • Optimism - dreaming big has yet to let me down

  • Resourcefulness - good with spit and duct tape