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Women in Digitalization: Interview With Mirela Comor of Lyreco

Reading Time 7 mins | December 5, 2022 | Written by: Heike Hoppmann

"Promote digitalization" – that’s what you hear everywhere. But who is behind individual digitalization projects? And what about the will to progress in single projects? To get answers, we spoke to digital drivers.
Mirela Comor is product content manager at Lyreco Germany – one of the largest global retailers of office supplies. In this interview, Mirela talks about her experiences as a digital driver and reveals her favorite moment in her automation project.

Please turn on english subtitles.

Mirela, first of all, tell us who you are and what you do.

My name is Mirela Comor. I'm from Hanover, 40 years old, and I've been working for Lyreco Germany as a content manager for three years now. Before that, I worked in the field of content for ten years. But in the high fashion environment, i.e. with clothes, shoes and bags. And there, we already did a little bit of automation. At Lyreco, I took on new challenges. Automated content creation with AX Semantics is our biggest project ever. It's my baby, so to speak.

What was it like for you to tackle such a big project?

At first, it was all a bit fraught with fear, or at least some concerns. Automation can be a simplification, but it can also be a real technical challenge. Questions arise quickly: Am I able to do it? Am I able to implement it? Which skills do I need? Am I even properly trained for such a project?

The introduction and establishment of content automation is a big step. How has your social environment reacted?

The reactions of colleagues – or even other people – are actually always positive. Automation definitely has a positive image, including the automation of texts with your natural language generation software. Of course, questions always arise about new ways of doing things: 'How is that done? And am I involved in this? And what about me?' Naturally, everyone who has anything to do with content has to be involved. All in all, though, I can say that the reactions have been consistently positive.

"Automated copywriting is teamwork, that's my stance."

Mirela Comor, Product Content Manager at Lyreco

You said that getting your colleagues involved was important. How did you manage to get everyone on board?

At our company, there have been a lot of presentations and we published many process diagrams. We ascertained the steps we wanted to take and provided comprehensive explanations: What happens when, where do we want to go, how do we do it? And what are the individual work packages? How do we get there? For example, it is necessary to do some cleanup to be able to start something this big.

We tried to involve the colleagues already in the design process. Automated content creation is teamwork, that’s my stance. The individual departments play a big role. In general, it never hurts to get valuable input from other colleagues. Just because I've mastered this tool doesn't mean I know everything about every text module. That's where I need the input of specialists. And this constant exchange is important in order to achieve a certain quality, e.g., for improving the user experience.

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Would you describe yourself as a driver of digitalization?

Absolutely. I am someone who has worked a lot with excel lists. So I know precisely what it means to work with excel lists: Inconsistency, errors, repeated errors, and manual effort. Of course, this also affects the psyche.

Three years ago, I had the idea of automating a huge excel list we were working with. We then went several steps further and now create all texts completely automatically. The original idea was a modular system. A small mask that makes it possible to automate a few assignments. And in the course of this, a large project was directly developed from it. This means complete automation as far as the products are concerned – and as far as data procurement, data maintenance, etc. are concerned.

"Wow, it's so cool what you're doing!"

Mirela Comor, Product Content Manager at Lyreco

What do your personal surroundings actually think about your work? Do they understand what you are doing?

I'm super proud that we're doing this project and that I'm allowed to do it. So I love to tell people about it, and I also love to explain what I'm working on. And the people I talk to are all totally enthusiastic. Those who don't even work in this field can hardly believe it. They ask, 'Really, how does that work and how do you do it?' In my personal surroundings, everyone says, 'Great, wow, that's such a great thing you're doing.' I only get positive feedback.

That sounds motivating. What did you want to become, when you were a child? What was your dream job back then?

Well, I had several. But I really wanted to be a reporter or a journalist. I more or less came to my current profession by accident. But I've been working in the field of content for more than 13 years now and I really enjoy it. There are people who say that it's great to do the things you love. And I really do love my work.

Mirela Comor Picture
Mirela talks about herself and her content automation project. 

And I can see that! You’re smiling throughout this whole interview. But are there any moments that annoy you in this project or any obstacles?

Annoying? Maybe in a very broad sense. For example, I'm not moving forward as quickly as I'd like to, because certain processes haven't been finalized yet or something like that.

But, basically, I've got all the requirements I need. I got the time, the investment and everything to be able to do this project. I'm very grateful for that. That's why there's not so much I'm angry about – and I'm quite happy about that.

So, there’s a lot of support for digitalization – that’s great. Was there a moment for you that was particularly nice?

When I made the first before-and-after comparisons. When I compared the old and new descriptions for one and the same product in our online shop. That was the moment when I saw what we had achieved for the first time. That was the moment when I thought, 'Wow, it was all worth it'. It's such an added value to the product pages and it looks so great. And yeah, that made me happy.

Before-and-after examples of content automation at Lyreco.
Before-and-after examples of content automation at Lyreco.

And now? Does it get boring?

No, it is and remains exciting because the project has not been finished at all. Not in a negative sense. It's all about modifying everything. For example, the individual projects can now be refined and improved. The content is not set in stone for all eternity. The needs of customers, the users, change and the products change as well. Or the information you want to give the customers needs to be adjusted. And that can be handled quite well with automation.

Do you have role models? Are you perhaps one yourself?

Maybe, I will try to become a role model. Maybe, I will become one to take away fears and support and accompany others.

Is there anything you would like to say to other digital drivers?

Yes. Go for it! One always thinks: Oh, what I've come up with makes no sense at all. But maybe it does. That's how it was for me, too. It started with the idea of an excel list. A few years later, I'm working with this tool that does exactly what I had in mind. So always be brave, it's worth it!

Heike Hoppmann

Heike Hoppmann believes in the power of words. The use of words can be creative, but above all it must be purposeful. Writing is not an end in itself. As a mentor and coach for editorial management and digital transformation processes, she has successfully conveyed this idea to many online editors. And today it is the guiding principle of her work as PR Manager at AX Semantics GmbH.