Matthias Berninger | Influence 100

Matthias Berninger 

SVP Public & Government Affairs 



Matthias Berninger walked into the top public affairs job at life sciences company Bayer in January of 2019, and straight into a storm. The German multinational’s acquisition of US agriculture giant Monsanto in 2018 – along with its headline-grabbing weedkiller, RoundUp – is set to dominate the firm’s engagement with its policy and political stakeholders at a local, European and global level for some time.

Berninger, a former German Green party politician himself from 1993 to 2007, is no stranger to the cut and thrust of front-line politics around controversial topics. His decision to suspend FleishmanHillard from its work with Bayer/Monsanto after the alleged data breach in 2019 shocked many in the communications industry, in-house and in agencies, but quickly cemented Berninger’s influence within the firm.

Before joining Bayer, Matthias Berninger held a variety of senior comms roles at Mars, including global public policy director, VP corporate affairs, and VP public affairs.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR’s direct impact on business performance?
Many little ones where business acknowledges it is flawed.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
The shift from talking about sustainable transformation to actually doing it and having a real impact (both challenge and opportunity).

What have you most admired about this industry over the past year?
Resilience of people who went through a lot, especially the brave ones that asked for help.

What has most disappointed you about this industry over the past year?
Layoffs of a generation that just got started and thus the loss of potential in many firms.

How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness in lockdown?
Outdoor cycling paired with Audible.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
The Wizard and the Prophet by Charles C. Mann and Coach Lasso.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
Hopefully happy and fulfilled somewhere else.

Sum up 2021 in one word.