Americans in Berlin: Kimberly Bohle
Name: Kimberly Bohle
City of origin: Los Angeles/ CA
Position: Senior Headhunter
Kimberly Bohle has been in Berlin for 24 years, experiencing and influencing the development of the city as Europe’s startup capital.
How did you get to Berlin and what was it like then?
I came in 1993. I was fascinated by the idea of a city with a wall around it, with communism on one side and capitalism on the other. When the wall fell, I felt so emotionally moved, I had to move to Berlin! Berlin acted like a village back then and we still do a little bit. People were very open to introducing me to other people and they helped me find opportunities.
What do you do for work?
I am heading up Cogs Berlin. As the European Hub of a global digital recruitment agency and consultancy, we support creative agencies, brands, startups and tech companies find talent across varied disciplines (i.e. creative, tech, marketing).
What do you feel has contributed most to Berlin's evolution towads Europe's startup hub?
Berlin has always had a light side and a darker underside. Where the dark and the light meet each other are grounds for growth. Berlin´s earth is simply ripe for innovation. It is a booming, thriving international city now, but it wasn’t always that way. You wouldn’t have been able to survive without speaking German 20 years ago. People can do it now, easily.
“Berlin’s competitive edge: it’s a melting pot for creativity.”
What is unique about the Berlin job market?
It’s amazing how much room for international talent there is here. Companies are hiring creative directors, designers and developers from all over the world. That certainly mirrors what you see out on the streets here. You have the digital strategist who teaches yoga on the side or the photographer who has a PhD in Biochemistry. It’s an “anything goes” city. Because Berlin gives you space to be creative.
Mercedes, Google, Samsung. Why do you think so many companies are investing in Berlin?
Berlin’s competitive edge: it’s a melting pot for creativity. It’s a new, exciting culture; a digital innovation culture. More investment flowed into Berlin for startups than London last year. People are recognizing it worldwide. And, the cost of living is still reasonable!
What types of talent are needed in Berlin the most right now?
The biggest gap is for user experience (UX) people: anyone who has a user research background with a bit of design, content and strategy. Also, data science is going to get really big.
“My advice for people moving to Berlin: find your village, create your village!”
How do you see Berlin in comparison to other places for women or minorities?
There’s a lot of acceptance, especially in innovation industries and startups. There’s lots of opportunity for women to move up into senior roles; I see them in management in almost every creative agency I know. And, I think that there’s absolutely no prejudice or judgement made for people of color or sexual orientations.
What’s your advice for people moving here?
It’s important to get connected as soon as possible. Find your village, create your village! If it’s the startup world, then go to meet-ups. Tell people what you do, what you want to do and what you’re interested in. There’s always somebody who will say: “Oh, I think you should meet that person.” It’s a snowball effect. Networking actually works in Berlin.
As they say, “it takes a village to raise a child”. What’s it like being a mother in Berlin?
My son is growing up in a very safe environment. The kids take the subway on their own and there’s a slew of well reputed international schools. As a woman, I also feel very safe here, walking alone at night or to my car. And, I love that there’s so much green around Berlin. There are three major parks around where I live in the middle of the city. Also, Berliners are very conscious about the environment. One third of the population rides bikes, one third takes public transportation and the last third drives cars. And, there seems to be an organic market on every corner. All in all, Berlin makes raising a family a lot easier.
Photos & Text: blogfabrik/Paul Rikeit & Jacob Schickler