Inside Audible

Sibylle Schwarz Uses Management Skills to Create Community and Connection

Audible employee Sibylle Schwarz stands in the outdoor patio of a restaurant with greenery behind her, black table umbrellas overhead, and lights strung across the background. She is looking directly to the camera and smiling. She has short cropped blond hair and is wearing dark framed glasses, a navy shirt and a black blazer. She has a red purse slung over her shoulder.

Sibylle Schwarz discovered audiobooks on her daily commute from San Francisco to Silicon Valley, nearly twenty years ago. She’d come to the US from Germany and was working for a tech company, first in reception and then in a customer service capacity. Schwarz took this experience halfway around the world to New Zealand, where she transitioned into project management roles, and after several years returned to Germany to join Amazon as a team lead for the EU, working in the digital and device space. When she transferred to Audible seven years ago to join the EU program management team, it was like coming full circle.

“It’s a dream job,” she says, considering her love of literature and audiobooks. “It's creative, but caters to a lot of my strengths, interests, and skills in a perfect combination.”

In her role, Schwarz gets to collaborate with a wide variety of people from across the world. “Simply put, I make sure everyone knows who does what, by when,” she says. In addition to being responsible for launching new products and features in our EU marketplaces, her role has evolved into an even more strategic one, delivering larger international projects, such as coordinating the launch of Audible’s Spain service.

Despite the challenges of managing projects that involve multiple languages and time zones, with much work done behind-the-scenes, Schwarz relishes her contribution to the creative process. “The ability to have interesting, engaging, challenging conversations with people, finding solutions while throwing around ideas—to me that is so much fun.” She’s even attended studio sessions, listening as audiobooks are created, and had the chance to narrate with her teammates on an Audible Original children’s classic.

Schwarz is drawn to the evolving nature of work at Audible, because it means that an employee’s role and ability to make an impact can evolve as well. “I'm really happy to have that opportunity to grow and to utilize my strengths,” she says, “but also to turn them into something that can influence things more broadly.”

One of those areas in which Schwarz wants to use her strengths is community. “I've always sought ways to get engaged and support others,” she says. After graduating high school, she served a voluntary social year, where she worked with people with disabilities and children who were refugees of war. While in New Zealand, she founded a computer hub at an urban soup kitchen, providing internet access and digital literacy training to people without homes and in need. She’s expanded the Berlin chapter of our employee-led impact group, Women@Audible, where she served as co-lead, and she represents the voice of EU employees as Audible evolves our Hub + Home model for hybrid working.

“As a lifelong project manager,” she explains, “I want to use my skills and experience beyond product launches and make a real difference.” Now Schwarz has taken a central role helping to spearhead Audible’s impact initiatives in the EU through our Global Center for Urban Development (GCUD). “We all align on the greater vision of amplifying what Audible can mean beyond what it does, and driving forward equality and empowerment for all,” she says.

When asked what advice she would give to anyone thinking of working at Audible, Schwarz asserts that passion for audio storytelling is, of course, important. “It's so easy to meet a random person and immediately get into a passionate discussion about books or stories. I've never experienced this anywhere else—it’s like a tissue that's connecting us all.”

Also: stay curious. “Embrace uncertainty, embrace change, embrace challenges—and be as authentically yourself as you can be, because you’ll be richly rewarded by bringing your own personality.”

Schwarz’s Current Listen

Feuer der Freiheit by Wolfram Eilenberger, which translates as Fires of Freedom, the story of four female philosophers as they developed their perspectives during the war. Says Schwarz, “It's a story of Simone de Beauvoir, Simone Weil, Hannah Arendt, and Ayn Rand. It's a mixture of their lives and stories through a very dark time in Europe. It’s so inspiring that they were living through these tough, life-threatening times, and yet they were not complaining—they were looking at how can we be more human; how can we be more kind. It is totally amazing.”

Feuer der Freiheit cover art
Feuer der FreiheitBy: Wolfram Eilenberger / Narrated by: Wiebke Puls