Amanda Gläser-Bligh lives near the Lietzensee, in one of the most beautiful and desirable corners of Berlin. A free parking space here is like hitting the jackpot, which is why I'm a little late for our early morning appointment. I whiz along the so-called antique mile on the Suarezstrasse, where around thirty antique shops are lined up, which is unique in Germany.
Shortly afterwards we sit across from each other in a light-flooded apartment in an old-style building. Amanda and her daughter Vivien have just finished breakfast, and I get a typical American filter coffee. Her husband Hendrik works as an electrical engineer in the automotive industry and is already on his way into the office. Born in America, Amanda works in E.ON SE's social media team, where she always attracts attention with her creative, often very funny ideas and projects. She looks after the international channels of the group and is truly passionate about social media.
While Vivien is packing her backpack for school, we sit by the window and chat before we start the day together and leave the house.
Amanda shares how she grew up in Connecticut, a smaller state between New York and Massachusetts. When she was around 10 years old, she thought it was great to explore things in nature, dig up stones or observe animals. That led to studying geology in Maine a few years later. A compulsory part of the degree is the choice of a foreign language and Amanda chose German. Although Amanda couldn't find a job as a geologist and worked in an investment bank after completing her bachelor's degree, her connection to her favorite professor of German remained. The group traveled to Germany, where Amanda met Hendrik. Mutual visits sparked love, they got married and Amanda has lived in Germany since 2005, first in the Ruhr area, and since 2014 in Berlin.
Social Media as a passion
The Berlin part of E.ON's social media / digital team has been working mainly in home office for months due to Corona, but we’re meeting today in the office on the Friedrichstrasse. We set off, accompany Amanda's daughter to school together and then split up shortly afterwards, because Amanda wants to take her bike, and I get into my car. We both drive over the wide-open Kaiserdamm towards Mitte, then I pass the beautiful Victory Tower, drive by Unter den Linden and find myself in front of our office building directly at the Friedrichstrasse station. By the time I've parked the car, I'll meet Amanda in front of the entrance.
The beautiful, late autumn weather enables a meeting on the terrace, where the team discusses some measures for the next few days. The social media team has won a number of prestigious prizes for its creative activities in recent years, including the “Digital Oscar”, the German Prize for Online Communication (DPOK) in the “Innovation of the Year” category. Otherwise, highly professional animal videos, influencer formats on Instagram and a crime thriller chatbot on Facebook have recently been produced. Amanda is proud of the trio of different personalities in the team, that are not afraid to constantly tackle new things. She herself appreciates unusual ideas, has appeared as a forest fairy at an energy convention or as King Kong in an Instagram story. Highlights are often spectacular external appointments such as visits to an offshore wind farm, far off the Baltic coast, or more recently, a video production underground in the Berlin sewers near the Ostbahnhof, where E.ON has installed heat exchangers for energy solutions. These trips let her produce videos and numerous photos that will later be posted on E.ON's social media channels. Amanda is considered the video queen in the team, doing everything herself from A-Z: production, editing, music & subtitles.
What are the most important qualities in this job? “Curiosity and passion for social media. We surf the channels almost 24/7 with our smartphones. At the moment, I particularly enjoy TikTok, but also Instagram and Facebook too. "
“What is an energy company doing on TikTok?” “We’re always trying new things. Not because we get bored, but because there is so much going on on social media and we want to address people where they’re active. Business people are more likely to be on LinkedIn or Twitter, of course, but young people more and more on Instagram or TikTok. "
When you watch the trio of Amanda and her two colleagues, you can feel the almost childlike enthusiasm for new ideas, in this case for an interactive Instagram game with influencers. There is a lot of laughter, the most important results typed into the laptop and a schedule drawn up. This is the great strength of the team: the rapid, operational implementation, you spend less time with processes and theoretical discussions.
The group goes their separate ways and Amanda devotes herself to three projects over the next two hours: uploading so-called verticals (upright videos) by an influencer who explains energy topics to TikTok; the final inspection of a board video she produced; contacting an agency to discuss promoting a series of posts.
Life in the capital
When everything is done, Amanda closes her laptop, first looks at the time and then down at the hustle and bustle below us: an S-Bahn pulls into the covered Friedrichstrasse station, a tram honks directly below us, in the middle some distance away you can see the dome of the Reichstag and to the right of us a tourist ship glides across the Spree. That's Berlin!
"What do you particularly like about Berlin - and what not so much?"
“The traffic is much more relaxed than in other German cities. Sure, there are construction sites and sometimes demonstrations, then you have to wait, but otherwise you can get around easily. Local public transport is great. The S-Bahn comes every two minutes! Conversely, what I find hard to get used it is how direct some folks can be. Sometimes it’s ok, but often they don’t have anything nice to say. "
“You seem to feel comfortable in Germany. Are there any plans to move back to the States at some point? "
“Yes, life here is just nice and not too complicated. Lots of people are open-minded, and I like that. I would love to live in the States again at some point. The most important thing for me is my family. My parents are old, my sister is seriously ill and I would like to support her more than I can at the moment."
"As an American, what would you like to see improved in Germany?"
“The bureaucracy. If you start something here, everything is very difficult and takes a long time. Germany is very well organized and structured, but mostly for large companies. A friend of mine is self-employed and often complains about it."
After a few phone calls and video conferences, Amanda declares that the working day is over and we drive west towards Charlottenburg, where the sun is slowly sinking. Amanda's daughter is playing with the neighbor’s kids downstairs and her husband is still at work, so she uses the time before dinner for one of her favorite hobbies: Pokémon Go.
Anyone who’s not at home in this special universe will be amazed to find out not only how long-lasting this game is, but also how cross-generational. Amanda's Pokémon friends, of almost of all ages, communicate almost daily via chat. When she tells me about it, we walk steadily towards the Lietzensee while Amanda is looking for one of these Pokémon things on her app that should be on the shore. Today there is also a so-called "raid hour" with friends from her group, which everyone is already looking forward to.
"So you deal with Facebook, TikTok and co on a daily basis - and in your free time you hunt Pokémon with your mobile phone?" I ask with a grin. Amanda nods, gives a short laugh when she recognizes a friend on the same hunt, waves to him and dashes towards the fisherman's hut, over which the setting sun is setting. No more time for questions from noobs like me. Now it's off to a raid!
NOTE ON THE PHOTOS: The day with Amanda was in late summer, before the tightened contact restrictions came into effect.