Oliva Wörndl, Head of Sponsoring and Development at the Bavarian State Opera in conversation with Hanna Hellenbroich-Schrader, HR Manager actori GmbH
Hanna: Hello Olivia, nice to have you with me for this interview today.
Olivia: Hello Hanna, it's a pleasure.
Hanna: At the end of 2017 you started at actori as an intern in the sponsoring department of the Bavarian State Opera - only two months later you were a sponsoring associate. As if that wasn't enough since September 2021 you have been heading the department with 4 employees. A rapid rise, how did you perceive it?
Olivia: My first day at work was truly a "baptism of fire". It was the day of the stage dinner - which is one of the most important events for us in the entire season. On that day, I was therefore able to experience immediately and in a very condensed way what our work is all about. Nevertheless, there were always new challenges after that, which I always accepted with great pleasure. You never get bored, and you never stop learning. Team leadership was probably the biggest step in my career so far, but with the support of my colleagues I was able to quickly grow into this task.
Hanna: What made you decide to come to actori and work for our marketing department instead of consulting?
Olivia: I have always been passionate about culture. After my studies in economics, I was looking for a way to combine my background in economics with my passion for culture. That's when I came across actori. The fact that the work involves not only an exciting environment but also a great team and many nice colleagues makes the marketing department one of the best jobs for me.
Hanna: Let's talk a bit about your work in sponsoring, the biggest challenge, and the biggest personal milestone?
Olivia: Every day we act as a link between the sponsoring partner and the cultural institution - there are sometimes conflicts of interest that must be resolved with a lot of tact. However, our main task is to inspire new potential sponsors. The product "opera" and the Bavarian State Opera itself can be marketed very well due to its high reputation in the worldwide cultural landscape. However, creativity is needed when designing sponsorship packages to reflect the individual needs of the partners.
Hanna: How should we imagine the cooperation with the colleagues in the consultancy in Munich and the client, the opera? As an interface, you certainly must be flexible in both directions - and how could you describe that?
Olivia: We work in the premises of the Bavarian State Opera and are therefore lucky to be part of the opera team, so to speak. At the same time, we stay informed about the work of actori consulting through regular jour fix and workshop formats. These formats are very helpful as they give us the opportunity to develop new ideas that we can then bring into the work for the opera. An additional advantage is that we then have the Christmas party and the summer party twice.
Hanna: The team success in the BSO speaks for itself, what do you think makes you successful?
Olivia: It's probably a combination of enthusiasm for opera, passion, and a great team spirit. We support each other in all situations and at the same time communicate openly and honestly. This is how we have managed to develop actual friendships among ourselves that go beyond office hours.
Hanna: Counselling and marketing have a different approach; how do you perceive that and where do you see similarities and differences?
Olivia: The biggest difference is probably that we experience music and culture live and in action every day. And the customer contact is also different: we work for the customer at the customer's place, i.e. we are in contact with the customer all day long. But that also makes our work particularly exciting! Working on site also involves a lot of personal responsibility. During the first meeting with a potential sponsor, I decide on the spot which fundraising strategy will work best, and in the case of large partnerships, I consult above all with the opera's artistic director, who makes the final decision about sponsorship. With consulting behind us, we have learned how to work in a structured and efficient way, especially in project management. In addition, our team includes colleagues with different professional backgrounds and fields of interest - this brings together very different know-how from which the opera and we can benefit.
Hanna: Dear Olivia, thank you very much, it was very exciting to get a glimpse behind the scenes of marketing at the Bavarian State Opera - a personal question at the end: The many events - also in the evening - are certainly very demanding in total. The job is certainly not a 9am-5pm job. Office during the day and in the evening, that's when the pressure really starts to build. How do you recharge your personal batteries? Where do you get the breaks, you need?
Olivia: I get the best rest at the top of a mountain - the glamour and pageantry of the opera world falls away completely, and I enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.
Hanna: Thank you very much for the insight into a versatile professional environment!
Olivia: You're welcome!