When Florian Kahlert's teenage daughter started driving, he took her to the Skip Barber Racing School. She learned to stay focused, react quickly and anticipate the unexpected. These best practices for driving also apply to running a research company. Florian, our new managing director, will use them to meet today's challenges while simultaneously looking toward the future.
Florian became GfK MRI's managing director in August. Previously, he had been managing director of Digital Market Intelligence (DMI) and SVP Business Insight at Knowledge Networks — now part of GfK. Before that, he was vice president of Product and Operations at Dimestore (acquired by Knowledge Networks).
Learn more about Florian in this Q&A:
Q. How would you use Twitter to describe your first month at GfK MRI?
A. I don't use Twitter, but if I did here's what you would see:
Excited about the new job #gfkmri great people bright future — we are just getting started.
Q. You've met with some of our clients in recent weeks. What did you discuss?
I’m having very different conversations with agencies, publishers and advertisers, but a common thread runs throughout. Clients want to know that we will "future proof" GfK MRI for them. As their situations and challenges change, they want to know that we’ll change with them. They want us to develop new products and explore new ways to leverage the data they need to reach their consumers in this increasingly cross media and digital world.
At the same time, they want to know that we'll continue to provide the reliable currency that they’ve come to trust for more than 30 years.
Q. You bring extensive experience and rich insights to our clients and staff — which of your accomplishments makes you the most proud?
A. For the past 20 years, I've been part of companies and developments that could be described as disruptive to the industries where they occurred; but eventually, they propelled those industries and helped them stay relevant in a changing environment.
This recently happened at Dimestore. We realized that the market was ready for a new, cost effective way of gathering and providing insights. Many in it were unhappy with both the timing and the cost of some existing solutions. We proposed short-form, in-content surveys with real-time, user-level data delivery to aid campaign optimization. Initially, we were belittled by some incumbents and researchers, only to find that within a few months they started to emulate our solution. That felt really good.
Q. What about GfK MRI most attracted you to this position?
A. It's an awesome brand that delivers real value. Clients really trust us, and they understand and appreciate what we do for them. That combined with the challenge of stewarding this asset into a new landscape with so many unknowns and changes — and being sure that we stay relevant to our clients for the next 30 years — makes GfK MRI very interesting.
Q. Why is GfK in North America an exciting place to work?
A. We have the combined resources of the fourth largest research company worldwide — one that is successful in both syndicated solutions and custom research. And we’re in a region where we’re not yet as well known under the GfK brand name. Being part of a group that's bridging this mismatch to give clients the tools they need today — and creating new tools for the future — is a great challenge, and it's a lot of fun.
Q. What are your favorite magazines, TV programs, movies?
A. I read The New Yorker and NY Magazine every week; I also read Der Spiegel, a German news magazine. I watch Homeland, Newsroom, Justified, and, of course, The Daily Show. My movie tastes are pretty broad, but one of my all-time favorites is Pulp Fiction. It is violent, but it’s incredibly well written, and you find new things every time you watch it.
Q. What was the best book you read this summer?
A. I have two favorites, Argo and The Power of Habit.
Q. What apps do you most often use on your smartphone and your tablet?
A. I use my tablets and smartphones for utilitarian purposes. I like The New York Times and The New Yorker apps on tablets, and I use my smartphone mostly for email, texting, getting directions, and finding restaurants — rarely for calls. I always look up places on Yelp before making a reservation.