From Google to Würth, from Heilbronn to Silicon Valley: At the premiere of the TUM Talk at the TUM Campus Heilbronn last night, business representatives discussed digital transformation and new leadership with scientists from the Technical University of Munich – and emphasized the strengths of the region.
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TUM Talk at the TUM Campus Heilbronn: “We need curiosity“
The foundation is solid – now is time for the next big step: Especially in the Heilbronn-Franken region, numerous family businesses and corporations have proven that they can reinvent themselves over years and decades. The digital transformation is now fundamentally changing previous value chains and business models. The opportunities are great: “Thanks to digitalization, we have the potential to refine many of our industries in Germany,” said Wieland Holfelder, Vice President Engineering Google Germany, on Thursday, September 17, 2020 at the premiere of the TUM Talk, a new networking event of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) at the TUM Campus Heilbronn.
However, the path of profound change is also challenging for the region’s more traditional companies, especially since the demands of many employees on their managers are developing simultaneously. “We need curiosity”, summarized Robert Friedmann, Chairman of the Central Managing Board of the Würth Group. This curiosity for new impulses was brought into the format by both podium guests and spectators – on site and virtually – at the first TUM Talk. Board members and executives of companies such as Deutsche Börse, the Schwarz Group, Baywa, Bechtle, TÜV Süd, and CSI openly discussed the challenges of digital transformation and the demands on modern leadership with researchers from the Technical University of Munich.
Since 2018, the university’s campus in Heilbronn has been rapidly growing and putting a particular focus on intensive discourse with local companies. “It is important to exchange ideas beyond one’s own nose,” said TUM President Thomas F. Hofmann, who had traveled from Munich to host the kick-off event, “business and science must come together.”
A cooperation also emphasized by the panelists. Despite increasingly digital collaboration, the importance of regional networks is growing: together, established companies, start-ups and research form so-called ecosystems in which innovations can be implemented quickly. “The Heilbronn-Franconia region is an excellent example of how these issues are being driven forward,” praised Ann-Kristin Achleitner, Professor of Entrepreneurial Finance at the TUM and a member of the supervisory boards of corporations such as Linde and Munich Re.
The key message of the TUM Talk: Only together, can the great challenges of our current times be met. In addition to a critical look at own products and business models, this also includes a critical look at the inner workings of a company. Strict hierarchies and long reporting lines slow down the speed of decision-making too much. Trust thus becomes a central value in modern management culture: “We try to delegate more decisions to the teams,” reported Thessa von Hülsen, responsible for HR strategy at Deutsche Börse: “Leadership is not power, but responsibility.”
The cooperation between practice and research allows new strategies to be developed for the challenges of today – an exchange also planned for the second TUM Talk which will take place on Thursday, March 4, 2021. The focus then will be on two further topics that underscore the region’s strengths – and are focal points of the research at TUM Campus Heilbronn: What are the particular opportunities and challenges family enterprises are facing? How can efficient and sustainable management be successfully combined?
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