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From monastery to marketing – one man’s journey of the heart

Hard to believe that a former monk would be working as a market research manager. But that’s what Marcos Dreher did. This is his story.
When Marcos Dreher first interviewed for his current job in market research, the company initially found it hard to place him. “I can’t make heads or tails of who you are or what you do,” he remembers one member of the interview panel saying, before ultimately offering him the position. And indeed, his many lives as a monk, helicopter pilot, theater producer and market researcher have been so diverse, it’s hard to sum them up on one page.
Marcos Dreher

Of Italian and German heritage, Marcos has lived in an intriguing variety of places, including São Paulo and the USA, as well as Vatican City, Madrid and other cities across the world. He’s now based in Heidenheim, Germany - a long way from his first home in Brazil - but for Marcos, living in all corners of the globe has always inspired him.

“The fact that I’ve lived and worked in different countries has given me a very deep understanding of how different countries and cultures tick,” Marcos says. His talent for languages has also helped. “I grew up speaking English, German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. My language skills have made me very flexible.”

It started with superheroes

As a fan of superheroes and an avid drawer, Marcos dreamed of being a comic-book artist as a kid. But at age 14, he decided to join the monastery near his home in southern Brazil, close to the Argentinean border. He was committed to his life and work as a monk. “I was always a very spiritual person,” he says. His family, however, didn’t allow him to continue past the age of 18, so he decided to join the Air Force in Brazil, where he trained in special operations. He worked in counterterrorism and learned to fly as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot. His role with the Air Force enabled him to live abroad, and he went on to work for American Airlines in counterterrorism – before 9/11, he’s quick to add.

After stints in Texas and New York, Marcos left American Airlines in search of a new challenge and found it in the next most obvious place: as a theatre producer! He returned to São Paulo and worked alongside renowned British West End producer Cameron Mackintosh to bring musical theatre sensation Les Misérablesto Brazil.

His next career move took him back to the monastery, in 2004. The spiritual part of Marcos was once again calling. Part of his work entailed helping to build a boarding school. When he wasn’t laying bricks, he pitched in with the administrative work as well as taught. His efforts caught the attention of one of his superiors – Pope Benedict XVI.

The Pope told him, “I know where I’m going to send you. What about Regensburg? That’s where I’m from.” And so Germany was the next destination for Marcos. But no good story is complete without a love interest. “I ended up meeting someone and fell in love. So that was the end of my life as a monk, and the start of a new one, as I decided to marry.”

Marcos Dreher as a helicopter pilot

What started with the Vatican led to Heidenheim

With his personal life starting a new chapter, Marcos now also needed to make a change in his professional life. Having made a brief foray into market research for a skincare company while still in the USA, he found that he liked the field. So, with his qualifications as a psychologist and his MBA in General Management in Marketing, Marcos went on to work for marketing agencies in Düsseldorf and Cologne, where he specialized in pharmacology, healthcare and manufacturing for the medical field.
Marcos Dreher (on the left) returned to the monastery in 2004.

The story continues, and the latest stop on his life journey is as Head of Global Market Research & Intelligence at HARTMANN. The rich tapestry of his life experiences contributes greatly to his role in analyzing and solving challenges across markets and industries. Marcos adds, “Being able to integrate these experiences into my work is the utmost fun – not to mention a good ice-breaker when someone learns I was a monk, pilot, and stage producer and am now helping people to improve their health.”

Although based in Germany, Marcos is never too far from the memories of his former homes and jobs. For one thing, his job involves a lot of travel. Also: “My passion for aircraft remains strong. Heidenheim has training airspace for the German Air Force and I can still tell you what engine the jet is flying from far away!”

2018 marks HARTMANN’s 200-year anniversary.

To commemorate this milestone, we have put together this series of articles. In it we show how our employees and partners contribute to advancing healthcare, as well as discussing trends and issues that affect the healthcare systems we serve.