“Work and leisure have never been separate for me”
Exclusive personal interview with HBB Managing Director Harald Ortner
What does an ideal Sunday look like for you?
First of all, sleeping in, as far as our dog allows (our son now sleeps longer than we do ;-), then a leisurely breakfast. After breakfast, exercising outside and then a delicious late afternoon meal
Which of your hobbies do only your family and close friends know about?
Hobbies are something you share with family and/or friends. Since I don’t do anything naughty, my hobbies are also known. I used to be very fond of comic books. Not all my friends know that.
What is your dream of happiness?
I am living it.
Which of your dreams have come true that you had at 18?
Family, parenthood, own house with garden, financial independence – all accomplished.
What would you have become if you hadn’t ended up in the real estate industry?
I would have liked to be a teacher, because of all the time off they get.
What advice would you have liked to give your 18-year-old self?
Since I rarely listened to advice when I was 18, better not to give any.
Which detail from your biography would you like to delete?
Actually none, because I have learned from all my mistakes and challenges of the past.
The decisive moment in your career so far was…
… the change from theory to practice. During my studies I had a small but successful market research company called MSE (Market Research and Location Analysis for the Euromarket) was trendsetting in name only until 1993. My concepts were probably not or only insufficiently given credit – because I was still too young for many people. At Rewe, I finally got all the tools necessary to transform these ideas from theory to reality.
What was the best decision in your professional career?
The change to my current company. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been here so long.
What will be your next professional challenge?
Dealing with different crisis and moving the company forward to attract and generate more third party mandates.
Do you consistently work me?
For me, work and leisuretime have never been separate. To be successful, you always have to be online professionally. However, work doesn’t cause me any stress. On the contrary, once I complete a task, it relaxes me.
What was your greatest private success?
My time as dorm president – which was the autonomy of the student dormitory that I lived in. Together with a team of 12 other volunteers was I able to create many benefits for the residents and increase the cash balance of the autonomy to a respectable level.
What is your favorite place in Germany (and why)?
Sylt, because the island offers everything that makes life great. It’s a wonderful place to “unwind” with long walks on the beach, good food and a lot of good fun.
Which city in Germany would you like to visit?
My job entails that I have been able to visit all beautiful cities already.
Your favorite place outside Germany?
France, because I like the French way of life.
Which city abroad would you like to visit?
Beijing, but I’ll put that off for a while.
In which sea did you swim last?
What is your favorite food?
Sauerbraten and dumplings.
Gym or stairs?
Gym, supposed to be good for the whole body. At the moment I’m combining both on the advice of my physiotherapist.
How often do you still write by hand?
Almost every day.
How good are you at small talk?
That’s for my conversation partners to judge – so far none have run away.
Which language would you like to master?
English, because unfortunately I only speak it partially as I was educated humanistically – in Latin and Greek – which unfortunately does not get you very far.
Which work of art has made a strong impression on you lately?
The self-painted picture my son gave me for my birthday.
Who is your favorite artist – and why?
My son – any questions?
What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
During my student days, I drove from Saarbrücken to the Cote d’Azur with two friends at 2 a.m. because of a spontaneous bet for a case of beer. A wonderful trip. Back then we did anything for a case of beer.
When was the last time you did something for the first time?
It’s hard to say, because I’m constantly trying out new things.
What’s in the photo you last took?
A bill that needs to be paid.
Who did you have a good conversation with recently?
I have good conversations all the time. The best ones are with very good friends because you can be open with them.
What movie/series excited you most recently? And why?
Actually, almost all productions by Marvel and Co. I’m thrilled that the comics of 40 years ago can come to life animated.
Which book has inspired you most recently? And why?
“Kühn hat Hunger” by Jan Weiler. Subliminal humor at its best, you simply have to read it. A lot of people are mostly familiar with him from his book “Maria, ihm schmeckt’s nicht.
How do you slow down in your everyday life?
By exercising regularly.
What little things do you enjoy?
Anything that makes me laugh.
What’s on your to-do list privately this year?
Improve my golf handicap; last year I achieved my intermediate goal. This year I want to go under 20.
What have you missed in your life, to your regret?
Nothing that you can’t still catch up on.
What have you always wanted to shout out to the world?
Schnibbeldischnabbeldibup – because that’s when everyone starts thinking about what you mean by it.