Pilawa studied after his school at Gymnasium Hummelsbüttel first medicine and then history, but he did not finish his university studies. From 1987 to 1994 Pilawa worked for Radio Schleswig-Holstein. From 1994 to 1996 Pilawa worked for German television broadcaster ProSieben and since 1996 he worked for television broadcaster SAT1. Since 2001 he worked for German broadcaster ARD and after nine years he changed to German broadcaster ZDF. Pilawa is married and has three children.