“But Flo… why KPMG?” My university friends had all the reason in the world to ask me this question. 5.5 years of business admin studies with a special focus on marketing. Why, on earth, finance? Why KPMG? The answer is simple. In terms of career, all my life I have taken weird decisions.
It all began in Weidach, my humble village in Northern Bavaria in Germany. 1,813 souls, four bars, two churches and an outdated football pitch. In my youth it still smelled like cattle and my two Socialist teacher parents loved to hang out in all those four bars. I walked to my school alone and after school I played football or built tree houses. No Insta, no TikTok, just freedom.
My professional path was predestined. Either socialist teacher or insurance guy. HUK Coburg is one of the leading German insurance providers and one of the top employers in my home town Coburg where I went to high school only 6 km away from Weidach.
I never wanted to become a teacher and neither did I want to end up calculating the risk of people’s lives. I wanted to become… J.R. Ewing.
Do you remember J.R. from Dallas, the series? He was and is my hero. I remember those Tuesday evenings. 9:45 pm. I was only nine years old, but my mom let me sit on her lap. Thanks to Dallas, at nine years of age I already knew two things. One, I don’t want to become Bobby. Two, I will be an entrepreneur.
July 1993, high school was over. My parents thought, Teacher or insurance! I applied for business administration studies in Bamberg, Bavaria. My parents thought, What a weird decision! (What they didn’t know… I was going to become J.R. – with or without their support!)
March 1996. Almost two years in the business admin race, a burning thought grew bigger in my head: I need another language. In business, English is standard. I thought, If I want to stick out, I need something cooler. I told my mom about my plan. She was extremely happy. “Great, then you will learn French, that is fantastic!” I took out an atlas and showed her a world map. “Look, mom, look at the world. What language would you want to learn today?” To cut it, I told her that I was going to study Spanish. She thought, What a weird decision!
This is how I ended up in Barcelona. 11 months of exchange “studies” as an Erasmus student. Well, calling it studies would be a euphemism. I replaced my classrooms with bars and beaches. But that year in Spain opened the path to a whole new life.
January 2000. I sign the contract for my first job. KPMG, the finance guys. “But Flo… Why?” I don’t know. I know it is a weird decision. But at that stage of my life I have a new vision: I will become the CEO of Siemens, the engineering group. An internship in Boca Raton, FL, and my diploma thesis at their headquarters in Munich made me park my J.R. Ewing dream for a while. I thought, If I want to become the CEO of a blue chip company, I need solid knowledge of corporate finance.
The weirdest decision came in October 2006. Sick of all the bad news and media coverage about my beloved Europe, I decided to launch an initiative to bring Europeans together and create a European spirit together. In October 2008, I left KPMG. That was not weird, that was an economical suicide. A few months later, I reach into my pocket and all I have left are 1.27€.
I had to take another weird decision: professional public speaking.
Today, I live in Barcelona. I am an international speaker, trainer and author. I train and speak in three languages. And the biggest benefit for me is my corporate background at one of the best advisory firms in the world. Maybe I am not J.R. Ewing, but I’m self-employed, I’m considered a success in what I’m doing and I certainly have his same mean laugh.
I learned that decisions, after all, can never be weird. On the contrary, the weirder they seem at first sight, the more benefit they carry in the long run.
For all that, dare to take weird decisions in life, my friend, dare to take weird decisions.
Keep making those great (weird) decisions!