- Sum it up
- Bringing technology to market
What can a Georgian entrepreneur, a French financial services project manager, and an Israeli telecommunications expert achieve together? Well, they could do an MBA together and join a successful start-up in Berlin that has just received €20 million in funding. One year after finishing their full-time MBA at ESMT, Dimitri Gugunava, Clément Luton, and Tomer Sabag are in the midst of an exciting start-up story. The company they work for – SumUp – offers an innovative solution to accept EC card and credit card payments via smartphones and tablets. A free card reader is inserted in the earphone plug, an app is downloaded, and then card payments can be accepted. A 2.75 percent fee goes to SumUp for each transaction. The simple and security-certified system especially targets small businesses. Before getting to know each other during their MBA studies, Dimitri had worked in his home country, Georgia, as the managing director of his own company, a retailer of products for the building construction and automotive sectors. With a background in IT and telecoms, Clément had led finance and business intelligence projects for AXA Group Solutions in France. Tomer had been responsible for research and development projects at Nokia Siemens Networks in Israel. With regards to ESMT, the three remember most the international environment, the valuable curriculum, and the long hours of working together with their fellow classmates.
DIMITRI GUGUNAVA, CLÉMENT LUTON, and TOMER SABAG
Full-time MBA Class of 2011
Ghim Meng (Jimmy) Low (b. 1974) worked in the telecommunications sector in Malaysia for 13 years. First as an financial analyst and then as the business development manager, he accompanied Maxis Communications, the no. 1 mobile operator in Malaysia, during its rapid growth phase. He reviewed business cases, developed network and IT strategies, and led a team to launch Maxis’ first fixed wireless and mobile virtual network operator service platform. A huge change came to Jimmy’s life in 2010: he decided to move to Germany to pursue a full-time MBA program in Berlin at ESMT. His reasons for choosing this path were to develop his skills further, for example working in diverse teams, managing conflicts, and leading negotiations. He managed all of this very successfully. Moreover, he documented his experiences in the ESMT MBA blog, served as representative of the MBA class, and co-wrote the case study “Mobile operators in 2010: The smartphone challenge” together with ESMT professor Francis Bidault. When asked about his time at ESMT, he highlights that the school unlocks the potential of each of its MBA candidates. For Jimmy, it unlocked the desire to pursue his childhood dream. An avid railway enthusiast, he chose the German railways company Deutsche Bahn for his post-MBA career. Adapting to the German work culture and the language were the most difficult challenges for him. But after six months and a very steep learning curve, he adjusted and now works at DB Systel, which is the ICT company of Deutsche Bahn supporting IT insourcing activities.
GHIM MENG (JIMMY) LOW, Service Manager, International ICT Delivery, Deutsche Bahn (Systel)
Full-time MBA Class of 2010
Uta Anders likes to be on the move. After holding several positions in controlling throughout Germany, she became head of controlling at ThyssenKrupp MetalCutting. At the automotive supplier, she also supported an M&A process as well as various restructuring projects. This made her a perfect fit for her next move: to Greece, where she became CFO and member of the board of directors at Hellenic Shipyards. For three years she and the other executive management members restructured the former government-owned company. In addition to this demanding job, she prepared for her next big move – becoming a participant in ESMT’s second Executive MBA class. Between 2008 and 2010 she managed not only to take part in the intensive 20-month program, but also to move from one country to another, to receive a promotion, and still found time to go running along the Spree River in Berlin before classes started. Uta is now CFO and member of the board of directors at ThyssenKrupp System Engineering. She still loves running (long distance, of course), and will soon move into her new apartment in the historic center of Heidelberg. Looking back at her time at ESMT, she says it was 20 months of fun (not all the time though…). Besides the theoretical tools, the further development of her leadership skills, and the lifelong friendships, she emphasizes one point about doing the Executive MBA: the realization that there is far more possible than one thinks.
UTA ANDERS, Chief Financial Officer and member of the Board of Directors, ThyssenKrupp System Engineering
Executive MBA Class of 2010
Born in the former German Democratic Republic, the first major transition for Cathleen Behrends (b. 1971) was her move to Hamburg right after German reunification to start an apprenticeship as a banker. After studying at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, she started working for one of the largest European banking groups, UniCredit Group (former HypoVereinsbank), in 1993. She moved up through the ranks, working as a senior banker in Germany, Latvia, and Turkey, and she gained almost 20 years of experience in a wide range of banking areas. In 2005/06, she was one of the first participants in ESMT’s Executive Transition Program, which was yet, as you might guess, another major transition in Cathleen’s life. She describes the program as a turning point. Cathleen started her second career as a coach, even after having achieved a position as chief operating officer at UniCredit Securities in Istanbul. In 2010, she set up her own company and, since then, has been helping people with difficult life situations to overcome crises and develop leadership and communications skills. Looking back at her ETP experience, she notes that ESMT served as the facilitator for her transition, naming especially ESMT associate professor Konstantin Korotov, who was a great coach for her peer group. What next? Well, Cathleen’s next transition is in progress: at the moment she is in the midst of preparing for her exams to be a psychotherapist.
CATHLEEN BEHRENDS, Executive Coach and Organizational Consultant, Cathleen Behrends Coaching & Development
Executive Transition Program 2005/06
Michael Kiesewetter is chairman of the board of management at NBank, the investment bank of the German federal state of Lower Saxony. In almost 20 years in banking he has weathered several storms: restructuring processes, establishing governance structures, introducing Basel II, building up branch offices, acquisitions, disinvestments, just to name a few. In 2008 he decided, upon the recommendation of his former boss, to participate in ESMT’s Executive Transition Program. Although in the midst of a historical banking and liquidity crisis, he managed to stay in the classroom. Of course, he says that this was a very intensive time with long hours that continued even after the program day had finished. And it would probably not have been possible without his company’s support. Looking back, he is still glad to have stayed on. In addition to gaining compact knowledge in preparation for a position in executive management, the program also supported Michael’s personal development. He says the program helped him to realize that you should focus not only on the job, but that it is equally important to make room for an improved work-life balance. In doing this, the demanding day-to-day business is managed more easily and results are even more rewarding. And what about the future? As cycles are becoming shorter and the pace is steadily increasing, he feels that people should closely monitor their own capacities to avoid overload. Therefore, he aims to act with consistency, reliability, and serenity, for his and his family’s benefit, but even more for the benefit of his company and staff.
MICHAEL KIESEWETTER, Chairman of the Board of Management, Investitions-und Förderbank Niedersachsen – NBank
Executive Transition Program 2009/10
After working more than two decades in the chemical industry, Holger Hüppeler has become used to facing challenges such as winning customer loyalty in new markets, managing processes that use complex technologies, and merging and leading teams with different mindsets. After his training at Bayer, he was posted in the United Kingdom for two years before returning to Germany. Before being put in charge of the market segment “Multi-customer Products” at Bayer, he had his first – and in his words “transformative” – Gracht experience. Holger participated in the then USW Netzwerk program “Management für jüngere Führungskräfte” (Management for future executives). Far from day-to-day business at the retreat of Schloss Gracht near Cologne, he immersed himself in the seminar’s content. More importantly, he met other young executives from diverse industries and backgrounds who were facing similar challenges. The experience left such a lasting impression that he came back in 2002 for USW Netzwerk’s flagship program, the General Management Seminar. Up until then, Holger had worked mainly in project management and needed to prepare for the general management responsibilities of a Bayer business unit for strategic marketing. Today, 10 years later, he is head of procurement at Lanxess, managing all procurement and logistics activities worldwide. His recommendation for managers interested in attending an education program: If possible, attend the program before moving into a new position to get the most out of this learning experience.
HOLGER HÜPPELER, Head of Procurement, Lanxess
General Management Seminar 2002
Daniel Muthmann (b. 1973) just bought a car. Poor salesperson! An important part of Daniel's jobs over the last years has been to lead negotiations. As senior vice president and head of the Gas Supply Division North at E.ON Ruhrgas, he was until recently responsible for E.ON's entire long-term gas supply portfolio from suppliers in Norway, Denmark, and the UK. When asked about negotiations, Daniel says that in his experience success is not only achieved through negotiations alone, but through proper preparation beforehand and efficient teamwork. Especially when dealing with international partners, significant energy has to be invested in building trust and understanding. Daniel acquired this experience within the past 14 years of his energetic career in the energy sector while rising successfully through the ranks. Executive education has played an important part in his career progress. Daniel has participated in programs at Harvard Business School, London Business School, and ESMT. Looking back, he especially values the discussions with international professors and managers from other companies, as well as the insights he gained for his daily business. What is he planning for the future? In a few months, he will take on a position as senior vice president Long-Term Portfolio at Dong Energy in Copenhagen. In the meantime, he is fulfilling a personal dream. He is building a private astronomical observatory.
DANIEL MUTHMANN, Senior Vice President Long-Term Portfolio, Dong Energy (as of 2013)
E.ON Summer Academy 2006
Su Rihan (b. 1965) has been working in high-tech companies at the interface of engineering and sales for the last 20 years. After studying turbomachinery at Xi’An, West China, he started at Huaneng Power International in Guangdong and held several positions there, including contract manager, commissioning engineer, and power plant operator. After seven years at Huangeng he joined Westinghouse Electric in Guangzhou as sales manager for power plant automation systems. In 2001 he came to his current company Siemens. Since then he has been responsible for sales, marketing, and key account management as well as for the assessment of joint venture partners in the highly specialized fields of industrial gas turbines and industrial power. In this leading role he participated in ESMT’s Bringing Technology to Market program in 2010. When asked about his experience he highlights the impressive diversity of the program faculty and the exchange with his peers which had a positive impact on his day-to-day business. His exchange of views with ESMT’s dean of executive education and program director of Bringing Technology to Market, Olaf Plötner, on topics such as sustainable business strategies for high-tech companies from developed countries in markets like China is still ongoing.
SU RIHAN, Proposal Manager, Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery AB
Bringing Technology to Market 2010