Crossing borders with coffee dates

05.11.2020, Luxembourg/Germany, RTL Group

Backstage opened the doors of the RTL Virtual Café for the first time on 1 October. More than 30 of you popped into the RTL Virtual Café to meet other colleagues and executives over a heart-warming cup of coffee. With this initiative we also gave Backstage readers a chance to meet 11 executives from the Group, who kindly agreed to participate.

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With the RTL Virtual Café, Backstage aimed to facilitate exchange across countries, functions and hierarchies across RTL Group. And it achieved even more – connecting people from different countries and positions, enabling you to share experience, learn from each other, and also inspiring you to start similar initiatives at local level! 

Elmar Heggen, COO and Deputy CEO of RTL Group, and Björn Bauer, CFO of RTL Group, dropped into the RTL Virtual Café. Elmar says: “I genuinely enjoyed the experience provided by the RTL Virtual Café. I like the fact that it allows you to meet and get to know someone you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have a coffee with if it hadn’t been for this initiative. The atmosphere was very casual and relaxed, which enabled light and pleasant conversation.” Björn adds: “It was a great pleasure for me to support the RTL Virtual Café initiative and I enjoyed my conversation with Joao, from Luxembourg, very much. Not only did it give me some additional insights into his work at Financial Transaction Systems, but I also had the chance to get to know him better on a personal level. Despite the limitations we are currently facing due to Covid-19 and some of us not having regular touch points, this is a nice way to bring people together.”

Elmar Heggen and Björn Bauer enjoying their virtual coffee meetings

From Fremantle, Samantha Glynne, SVP Global Branded Entertainment, comments on her own coffee date with Julia Bol from RTL Nederland: “It was so inspiring talking to someone from a different part of the RTL business. We shared the pains and the gains of working during a pandemic, both coming from different perspectives but having similar issues. I very much hope to have a coffee with Julia in real life one of these days – we both agreed RTL had made an excellent match!” 

Marlies de Boer, Head of Strategy at RTL Nederland, and Sandrine Gobbesso, General Manager of TV at RTL Belgium, also enjoyed the experience. Marlies said: “Definitely something I would recommend doing more often as a Group! It inspired our young RTL Nederland team, so we might also do this at a local level.” Sandrine recalls: “The 30 minutes I spent with Marine were rich and frank. Unsurprisingly, we are dealing with a lot of the same issues and it was very interesting to hear her point of view and exchange specific information. There is no doubt that this exchange created a bond that I hope we will maintain. I would like to thank Orélie, from our Communications team, and RTL Group for making this possible.”

At Smartclip, both co-CEOs Oliver Vesper and Thomas Servatius also took part in the initiative. Thomas Servatius says: “The virtual coffee date was a very positive experience for me, both on a personal and professional level. We both connected over a cup of coffee and had the chance to discuss new ways of working together – we even discovered that this conversation may lead to a close collaboration between Smartclip and Divimove!”

Other feedback included: 

  • “It was really nice to talk about terribly interesting things related to our jobs, how Covid-19 has changed our daily work and how will it be in the near future. It was a lot of fun!”
    – Oihane Irureta, Atresmedia
  • “Just wanted to let you know that I really liked this initiative. Samantha and I had a great virtual coffee. Always a blast to meet up with international colleagues and share experiences! Thank you for the opportunity”
    – Julia Bol, RTL Nederland
  • “It was very nice to get to know a new person from another country and to talk about work and more"
    – Tamara Van der Vos, Divimove
  • “I had such a lovely ‘café’ meeting!  What a lovely experience and connection to have made thanks to this wonderful idea!”
    – Carrie Hirsch, Fremantle
  • “I wanted to thank you very much for launching the RTL Virtual Café initiative. It was really nice to get to meet someone working for the Group but in a completely different field and from another continent. It went really well and we decided to keep in touch”
    – Alexandra De Fournas Labrosse, M6 
  • “Thank you for the opportunity to be involved in the RTL Virtual Café experience. We met for the first time last Friday and had an enjoyable chat about work, the effects of Covid (inevitable I think!) and leisure time”
    – Sue Fisher, Fremantle
Check out the pictures from the first edition of the RTL Virtual Café below:

A big thank you to all the colleagues and executives who took part and made the RTL Virtual Café possible! The doors of the Café are now closed, but given the positive feedback and success of this initiative, we will open them up again in future. In these unprecedented times, maintaining and creating social connections is probably more crucial than ever before. RTL Group has more than 16,000 employees who work in very different settings, places and businesses or, conversely, in very similar positions. By giving you the opportunity to chat and meet the people behind the numbers, we also want to encourage tighter bonds and closer collaboration within the Group.

Watch this space on Backstage to register for the next edition of the RTL Virtual Café!

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