Marie Meyer-Marktl | Foto: Andrea Zehetner

It is my vision that people wake up bright-eyed on Monday mornings and think happy thoughts about work

Marie Meyer-Marktl studied Business Administration at the University of Klagenfurt. She started her career in controlling, then became pricing manager and finally CFO of a high-turnover international company. Today she is self-employed and supports people as a coach in finding a fulfilling and successful working life. Visitors to the connect job & career fair were also treated to her expertise – her career speed coaching sessions and the impulse lecture were very well attended.In the interview, Marie Meyer-Marktl gives insights into her career change journey, talks about how her time as a student and the international experiences contributed to this decision, and reveals how students and graduates can find their dream job.

Marie Meyer-Marktl, after completing your degree in Business Administration, you started in the traditional field of controlling and, with a lot of drive and ambition, steadily expanded your area of responsibility until you eventually became the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a large company. How did this come about and what motivated you in the world of facts and figures?
As a junior controller, I initially made a lot of mistakes. The company in Vienna was very patient and acknowledged my development potential as a young professional. After some time, however, we jointly realised that my strengths did not lie in reporting. I became a business partner in controlling and was able to very successfully develop new areas with managers and colleagues and support them in projects. An internal career development programme then enabled me to take the next career step. I moved to Berlin and was allowed to work on an international project as pricing manager. It was an exciting, turbulent and intense time. I was particularly proud to have mastered an internal audit well, thanks to my controlling expertise. Working with colleagues from Switzerland, France, China and India was also very rewarding. I was equally impressed by life in the big city of Berlin – the city is bubbling over with internationality and innovative spirit. In 2016, I was offered the position of CFO for the northern region, based in Hamburg. I accepted the challenge. I appreciated the cooperation in the team and the supportive approach of my supervisor, but increasingly realised that I was not in the right place in terms of content. I felt like an artist who is only allowed to choose two colours from a colour palette. All the others were off-limits.

This led to a professional shift in mindset. What was decisive for your personal change process?
Even during my time in Berlin, but more so in Hamburg, I was already interested in the topic of professional orientation. I went in search of my “why” and my “purpose”. During my time as a student, I dealt with the topic intensively at the corporate level. During my business degree, I learned a lot about the fact that companies need a reason for existence and a vision. During my time in Germany, I realised that this idea is also very important for me as an individual. My search for meaning became steadily more intense and so I ended up in Ethiopia in 2016, where I worked on a project as an English teacher. In 2017, I started my training as a coach, which took me over a year. In 2019, I finally took the plunge into self-employment. Today, I support people in finding a fulfilling and successful working life. I accompany the change process with individual coaching sessions.

Did your international experience contribute to your change process?
Yes, definitely! I lived in many different countries as a student and in a professional context and travelled a lot. Through these international experiences, I not only got to know other countries and people better, but also myself. There were many experiences that inspired and shaped me a lot. In Ethiopia, for example, I talked with my adult students about time and its meaning. They absolutely could not identify with my view that “time is money”. Rather,  “time is family and friends” was their most important statement. My supervisor also made me think with his advice that “at the end of the day, you need to be happy, nothing else”.

What motivates you in your role as a coach?
Clarity, knowledge and courage are the three core ingredients for a professional change – this is where I accompany and empower my clients. The diversity makes this task so exciting. I work with people from different age groups in a wide range of life situations. Accordingly, I design my coaching sessions individually – there are no prefabricated video courses. When my clients experience change and find a job that feels good, it makes me happy and proud. This kind of sense of achievement motivates me a lot.

Did your studies also prepare you for these activities as a coach?
Yes, definitely. There are incredibly layered parallels between strategic business management and a fulfilling and successful working life. Strategic controlling in particular provides plenty of inspiration for my professional work as a coach for individuals. The experiences I had abroad during my studies were also very beneficial.

What tips can you give students and graduates to help them find a fulfilling working life?
In my keynote speech at the connect job and career fair, I was able to share the following three guiding principles with the visitors:

  • Talk is gold, silence is silver. Talk about your wishes and plans. Everyone should know about it, because with the support of other people you will achieve your goals faster and better.
  • Take time to reflect: The end of the year is a good time to reflect on the past. What did you particularly like? What have you learned?
  • Think about how you envisage your ideal working life. Write a wish list to Santa Claus. Only when you know what you want and what is important to you can you start looking for the right job and the right company.

It is my vision that people wake up bright-eyed on Monday mornings and think happy thoughts about work. There is still a lot to do!

A few words with Marie Meyer-Marktl

A happy moment at the University of Klagenfurt was… when I was able to get to know many different entrepreneurs in an entrepreneurship course, all of whom were passionate about their businesses. And I associate the university parties with fun times. I loved dancing till late into the night 😉

From my student years, I’m still accompanied by… my best friend Christin.

Who inspired you? Every encounter with people is inspiring. Simon Sinek, John Strelecky and Stephan Covey have had a great influence on me.

If I were to study again, I would… give philosophy a try.

My university experience in 4 words: varied – exciting – familiar – international (USA with joint study, trip to China, internshipin Mainz, mentoring of foreign students)

An unforgettable experience during my time as a student was… my time abroad in the USA and mentoring 4 Japanese students in Klagenfurt. Those were really exciting times!

When I think of the University of Klagenfurt, I immediately think of.. a family atmosphere and togetherness, you are not just a number here.