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Gütersloh, 20/06/2011

Happy Birthday, Liz Mohn!

The woman who leads Bertelsmann has reason to celebrate

Liz Mohn in front of a portrait of her late husband
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Liz Mohn in front of a portrait of her late husband
Fotografer: Veit Mette

In the best of health, Liz Mohn recently celebrated her 70th birthday in the company of her family and closest friends. Following the death of her husband, Reinhard Mohn, in October 2009, she is now responsible for Bertelsmann AG, the media group that employs more than 100,000 people in over 50 countries around the world. As CEO of the Bertelsmann Verwaltungsgesellschaft, she ensures the continuity and ongoing development of the company’s corporate culture. In addition, she is a member of the Bertelsmann AG Supervisory Board and vice-chair of the Executive Board at the Bertelsmann Stiftung, a nonprofit foundation. 

“My husband Reinhard bequeathed to me considerable responsibility within the Bertelsmann organization, which I am more than happy to continue taking on,” she said, looking back on her birthday on June 21. “Bertelsmann AG has more than 100,000 employees in more than 50 countries. Financially it has been very successful and is well positioned to face the future. The Bertelsmann Stiftung assumes social responsibility by carrying out projects and initiatives that have been very well received both in Germany and beyond. None of that would have been possible without the extensive support I’ve received from my family and the outstanding performance by Bertelsmann AG and Bertelsmann Stiftung management, not to mention the contributions of all of our employees around the globe. I would therefore like to take the opportunity now to extend to them my heartfelt thanks. Our employees can look to the future with confidence, since Bertelsmann will continue to focus on the critical success factors of continuity, sustainable growth and creativity.”    

In a new book called “Schlüsselmomente” (Key Moments), scheduled for publication by C. Bertelsmann in September, she is providing an in-depth look at the things she has experienced while leading a dedicated life. In the book, she discusses what motivates her and outlines her professional development during her time at Bertelsmann. In the foreword, she identifies a few key factors that have kept her going, including her curiosity and desire to learn. As she writes in the book, she has discovered that overcoming challenging situations requires more than just logical thought, in the same way that emotional responses alone are not enough for making responsible decisions. As a result, she suggests using both: intellect and intuition. 

At the Bertelsmann Stiftung she is responsible for numerous initiatives that focus on the topics of corporate leadership and corporate culture. She also directs the NEUE STIMMEN International Singing Competition. In addition, she oversees projects dedicated to music education in preschools and schools, as well as the foundation’s International Cultural Dialogue series. The latter serves to promote exchange -- with partners in Japan, China and India, among other locations -- in order to build networks among the globe’s cultures and increase international  understanding.

She is also responsible for the foundation’s activities in the area of work-life balance. Working with the German Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, for example, she launched the Alliance for the Family, which brings together stakeholders from the political and business spheres. Other projects are designed to update the occupational health policies in use in businesses today. 

In 1993, she was also the one who established the German Stroke Foundation. The organization offers counseling and assistance for people with stroke and their families, while also supporting ongoing professional training in related medical fields. Its national campaigns increase awareness of this insidious condition among Germany’s medical practitioners and the public.

In 2005, she founded the Liz Mohn Foundation for Culture and Music. With its help, she promotes a number of organizations, including the International Opera Studio at Berlin’s Staatsoper opera house, the Gütersloh Boys’ Choir and the Cultural Integration Through Music initiative.

She has received numerous awards for her efforts. In 1999, for example, she became the first female member from Germany of the Club of Rome. In 2008, she was the first woman to receive the Atlantik-Brücke’s Vernon A. Walters Award, and in 2010 she received Germany’s Great Cross of Merit. In 2010 she also received the Global Economy Prize from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, the Golden Victoria Award from VDZ, the umbrella organization of Germany’s magazine publishers, and the Scopus Award from the University of Jerusalem.

About the Bertelsmann StiftunG
The Bertelsmann Stiftung is dedicated to serving the common good. It executes projects in its four core areas of education, business and social affairs, health, and international relations, and strives to promote peaceful coexistence among the world's diverse cultures. Through the example of its civic engagement, it wants to encourage others to support their own communities as well. Founded in 1977 as a registered charity, the Bertelsmann Stiftung is majority shareholder of Bertelsmann AG. Structured as a private operating foundation, it is politically non-partisan and works independently of Bertelsmann AG. The Bertelsmann Stiftung currently employs 316 people and has a budget of approximately €60 million.

About Bertelsmann AG
Bertelsmann is an international media company encompassing television (RTL Group), book publishing (Random House), magazine publishing (Gruner + Jahr), media services (Arvato), and media clubs (Direct Group) in more than 50 countries. Bertelsmann’s claim is to inspire people around the world with first-class media and communications offerings --  entertainment, information and services  --  and occupy leading positions in its respective markets. The foundation of Bertelsmann's success is a corporate culture based on partnership, entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and corporate responsibility. The company strives to bring creative new ideas to market and create value.

About Bertelsmann Verwaltungsgesellschaft (BVG)
BVG is managed by a steering committee that consists of three members of the family Mohn and three elected non-family members. BVG’s mandate is to uphold the interests of the Bertelsmann Stiftung foundation and the Mohn family as Bertelsmann AG shareholders, and to safeguard the continuity of the company’s management and its distinctive corporate culture.

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