Review: The Transatlantic Business Conference 2018 in Berlin

The 12th Annual Transatlantic Business Conference took place on Nov. 29-30, 2018. For the first time, this year's conference took place in Berlin. 

Given the current uncertainties in the transatlantic marketplace, the conference focused on trade, the future of infrastructure, and on strengthening transatlantic ties.

The overarching message: We need to shape trade responsibly for the 21st century and, in doing so, strengthen our ability to work with one another. After all, challenges like climate change and inequality - coupled with nationalism, populism and protectionism - show that no country can afford to go it alone.

For more impressions from our conference, make sure to read our event report in our magazine commerce germany and check out our photo gallery.



Haus der Commerzbank, Pariser Platz 1, 10117 Berlin

+++ Please note that the program on Nov. 29 is not open to press. +++

4:00 pm Registration & Welcome

Division of participants into two groups

Site Visits: Innovation Spaces

  • Tour 1: Commerzbank #openspace & Dell EMC Pivotal Labs
  • Tour 2: Ottobock Future Lab Berlin-Bötzow

Learn more about the site visits by clicking the respective button above.

Reception (starting at 7:00 pm) - fully booked -
Haus der Commerzbank, Pariser Platz 1, 10117 Berlin


  • Frank Sportolari, President, AmCham Germany
  • Marcus Chromik, Chief Risk Officer, Commerzbank AG

Discussion: Future of Infrastructure

  • Rodney Slater, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs, and former US Secretary of Transportation
  • Bernhard Mattes, President, VDA
  • Moderation: Ryan Heath, Political Editor, POLITICO Europe

Dinner Reception

Please note this program may be subject to change.

Axel-Springer-Haus, Axel-Springer-Straße 65, 10888 Berlin

08:00 am Registration | Welcome Coffee

09:00 am Welcome & Opening Remarks

  • Frank Sportolari, President, AmCham Germany
  • Dieter Kempf, President, BDI

Keynote Speech

  • James R. Fitterling, CEO, The Dow Chemical Company

Panel: The Transatlantic Partnership - Catching Opportunities and Facing Challenges

  • Alexander Linn, Partner, Deloitte
  • Wolfgang Eder, CEO, Voestalpine AG
  • Donatus Kaufmann, Member of the Management Board, thyssenkrupp AG
  • Gisbert Rühl, CEO, Klöckner & Co. SE
  • Moderation: Inga Michler, Economic Reporter, DIE WELT

Coffee Break


  • Lisa Davis, Member of the Managing Board, Siemens AG

Breakout Sessions

  • Deloitte: Strategizing in a changing marketplace: How to stay ahead of the curve? 
  • Squire Patton Boggs: Trade Under Trump
  • White & Case: Artificial Intelligence and Corporate Management


Speeches by

  • Richard A. Grenell, Ambassador of the United States of America to Germany
  • Ulrich Nussbaum, State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

Panel: Winning Strategies in Times of Trade Dispute 

  • Svenja Falk, Managing Director, Accenture Research
  • Theresa Fallon, Director, Center for Russia, Europe, Asia Studies 
  • Thomas Mayer, Managing Director and Founder, Flossbach von Storch Research Institute
  • Moderation: Frank Riemensperger, Chairman, Accenture Germany

NextGen Session: Three Ways the USMCA Trade Agreement Can Benefit Transatlantic Trade

  • Michaela Summerer, Consultant, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

 Policy Chat

  • Frank Sportolari, President, UPS 
  • Moderation: Ryan Heath, Political Editor, POLITICO Europe

03:30 pm Reception and Get-Together

Please note that this program may be subject to change.

Marcus Chromik, Chief Risk Officer at Commerzbank AG

Dr. Marcus Chromik is Chief Risk Officer at Commerzbank AG. His areas of responsibility include business segment asset and capital recovery, big data & advanced analytics, and group credit risk management. Previously, Dr. Chromik has worked for Deutsche Postbank AG and McKinsey & Company, Inc. He holds a PhD in Physics from Munich University. For more information, see his full CV

Lisa Davis, Member of the Managing Board, Siemens AG

Lisa Davis is a Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG. Based in Houston, Texas, she is also Chair and CEO of Siemens Corporation, USA. Her responsibilities include the Power and Gas Division as well as the Power Generation Services Division. Previously, Davis has worked for Shell, Texaco, and Exxon. She holds a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. For more information, see her full CV.

Wolfgang Eder, Chairman of the Management Board, voestalpine AG

Dr. Wolfgang Eder is Chairman of the Management Board of voestalpine AG. He joined the company in 1978; since 2004 he has been the Group CEO. Under Eder’s leadership the voestalpine Group has tripled its annual revenue to EUR 13 billion, and has evolved from a traditional, mainly Austria-based steel producing company into a global technology and capital goods group.

Jim Fitterling, CEO, The Dow Chemical Company &
COO, DowDuPont Materials Science Division

Jim Fitterling is the chief executive officer of The Dow Chemical Company and chief operating officer for the Materials Science Division of DowDuPont, a nearly $80 billion holding company comprised of The Dow Chemical Company and DuPont with the intent to form independent, publicly traded companies in agriculture, materials science and specialty products sectors.

As a member of Dow’s most senior leadership, Fitterling – who joined Dow in 1984– has played a key role in developing and executing Dow’s strategy to invest in a market-driven portfolio of advantaged and technology-enabled businesses that create value for shareholders and customers. He served as the business lead in the successful launch of Dow’s Sustainability 2025 goals. For more information, see his full CV.

Dr. Svenja Falk, Managing Director, Accenture Research

Svenja Falk is Managing Director in Accenture Research. She is responsible for Health & Public Services and oversees the theme “Future Workforce” globally.  Svenja also leads the workgroup on digital business models under the umbrella of the Platform Industrie 4.0 to develop actionable policy recommendations for Governments. Svenja is on the Board of the Accenture Foundation Germany and responsible for its program “Skills to Succeed”. She has spoken and published widely on digital business models, the future of work with partners such as the World Economic Forum. Svenja is a honorary professor at the Justus-Liebig Universität Giessen and a fellow at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.



Theresa Fallon, Founder and Director, Centre for Russia Europe Asia Studies

Theresa Fallon is the founder and director of the Centre for Russia Europe Asia Studies in Brussels. She is concurrently a member of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific and a Nonresident Senior Fellow of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Theresa’s current research is focused on EU-Asia relations, Sino-Russian relations, maritime security, global governance, and China’s Belt & Road Initiative. She has testified numerous times to the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs and Subcommittee on Security and Defense, and has been featured in international media including the BBC, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Previously she was a Senior Associate with the European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS) in Brussels and a member of the Strategic Advisors Group for the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). From 2003 to 2007 she worked in Beijing as a researcher and consultant. From 1998 to 2003 she was the Moscow representative of PlanEcon, a research and consulting firm, and taught in the first MBA program established in Russia at the American Institute of International Business in Moscow. She was educated at the University of Chicago, Loyola University and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Her articles have appeared in American Foreign Policy Interests, The Asan Forum, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of CSIS, China Brief, The Diplomat, ISN Security Watch, PlanEcon EnergyReport, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Newsbrief and other academic publications.

In 2017, she was listed by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the top 20 women to follow on Twitter in the areas of foreign policy and national security. She was awarded the Vietnamese Ambassador’s Distinction Award for her contributions to strengthening the relationship between Vietnam and the European Union in 2014. 

Olaf Gersemann, Chief Editor Business, Finance & Real Estate, DIE WELT
Olaf Gersemann has been Chief Editor for Business, Finance and Real Estate at DIE WELT since 2010. Before joining DIE WELT, Mr. Gersemann was the team leader of the foreign correspondents at the "Financial Times Germany", the Washington Correspondent and Business & Policy Editor for "Wirtschaftswoche", as well an editor for Careers and Young Careers at "Handelsblatt".

Richard Grenell, U.S. Ambassador to Germany

Richard Grenell has been U.S. Ambassador to Germany since May 2018. Previously, he was a partner with Capitol Media Partners. His public sector experience encompasses work as National Security and Foreign Affairs Spokesman for Mitt Romney as well as Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy for the U.S. Ambassador to the UN. He has also served as Alternate Representative to the UN Security Council. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. For more information, see his full CV.

Ryan Heath, Political Editor, POLITICO Europe

Ryan is political editor at POLITICO Europe, with particular responsibility for shaping POLITICO’s 2019 European elections coverage. Ryan served for three years as the original author of our Brussels Playbook column. He began writing for national newspapers in his native Australia in 1999, and is the author of two books including the cult classic “Please Just F* Off, It’s Our Turn Now,” an account of how the Baby Boomers / 68er generation are viewed by the Millenial generation. After working as a speechwriter for the British civil service, he joined the European Commission working for President Jose Manuel Barroso and Vice President Neelie Kroes as a spokesperson. Ryan is regular policy commentator on outlets such as BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and Deutsche Welle. He has reported from major events such as the World Economic Forum in Davos, G7 summits and US political conventions.

Donatus Kaufmann, Member of the Executive Board, thyssenkrupp AG

Dr. Donatus Kaufmann is member of the Executive Board of thyssenkrupp since 2014 and responsible for Legal, Compliance, Technology, Innovation and Sustainability. Furthermore, he has the responsibility for the regions North America and Western Europe. Prior to this, Dr. Kaufmann worked as Group General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer for Metro. At the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, he held the same positions and additionally served as Head of Corporate Division Law, Trademarks, Insurance and Real Estate. He also was head of the family office of the group’s owner family. Donatus Kaufmann studied law, history, political science and business administration at the Universities of Göttingen, Bonn, Paris-Sorbonne and Hagen, received a Doctorate in International Commercial Law and ran through the International Executive Program at INSEAD. His areas of expertise include international trade, regulatory affairs and risk management.

For more information, see his full CV.

Dieter Kempf, President, BDI (Federation of German Industries)

Dieter Kempf is President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), a position he has held since January 2017. In addition, he serves on various supervisory boards and as honorary professor at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. Previously, Kempf has been President of Bitkom and has held positions at Datev, including 20 years as Chairman, and Arthur & Young (now Ernst & Young).  For more information, see his full CV.

Alexander Linn, Business Tax Partner, Deloitte

Dr. Alexander Linn is a Business Tax Partner at Deloitte. He holds a PhD in Economics and with more than 10 years of business experience, he specializes in restructuring, sustainable strategic tax planning, business model optimization and EU law. Alexander Linn advises large and medium-sized multinational corporations involving both German- and US-based companies. He is a member of the Deloitte Germany EU Competence Group.

Bernhard Mattes, President, German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA)

Bernhard Mattes was born in Wolfsburg in 1956 and studied economics at the University of Hohenheim. He held a variety of sales-related posts at BMW from 1982 to 1999. He then joined the Management Board at Ford Werke, which he chaired from 2002 to 2016, and simultaneously (from 2006) held the post of Vice President of the European Ford Customer Service Division. Since January 1, 2017, he has had a seat on the supervisory board at Ford Werke and on the Presidential Board of DEKRA. On March 1, 2018, Mattes became President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).


Dr. Thomas Mayer, Founding Director, Flossbach von Storch Research Institute

Thomas Mayer is Founding Director of the Flossbach von Storch Research Institute. Before this he was Chief Economist of Deutsche Bank Group and Head of DB Research. Thomas Mayer held positions at Goldman Sachs, Salomon Brothers and, before entering the private sector, at the International Monetary Fund and the Kiel Institute. Thomas Mayer received a doctorate in economics from Kiel University in 1982. Since 2003 and 2015, he has been CFA Charterholder and honorary professor at University of Witten-Herdecke, respectively. 

Inga Michler, Economic Reporter, WELT

Dr. Inga Michler is an economist and business reporter for WELT, where she started as a financial editor in 1998. Her writing focuses primarily on major economic trends as well as on family businesses in Germany, philanthropy and education. Michler is also an experienced moderator, chairing large conferences for the paper such as the "Welt-Waehrungskonferenz" and "Weltkonferenz Frauen im Top-Management" and has published three books. For more information, see her full CV.

Ulrich Nussbaum, State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

Dr. Ulrich Nussbaum has served as State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy since April 2018. He is also professor of International and European Commercial Law and Financial Relations at Jacobs University Bremen. Previously, Dr. Nussbaum has held the position as Chairman of the Presiding Board at the German Transport Forum as well as Senator of Finance in Berlin and Bremen.  His experience also includes various roles and senior positions in the fisheries sector and in the fields of administration, finance and trade. He holds a degree in law and political science.


For more information, see his full CV.

Frank Riemensperger, Chairman, Accenture Germany

Frank Riemensperger has been Chairman of Accenture in Germany, Austria and Switzerland since 2009. The trained computer scientist and expert for digitization holds a seat in the acatech Senate, the German Academy for Engineering Sciences, and is a board member of DFKI, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence. Furthermore, Frank is a member of the executive committees of the German IT association BITKOM and the German association of IT users VOICE and a member of the steering committees of the Plattform Industrie 4.0 and of the Plattform Lernende Systeme. He is the Vice President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany and a member of the Feldafinger Kreis.

Rodney E. Slater, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs, and former US Secretary of Transportation

Former US Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater is a partner at Squire Patton Boggs in Washington, D.C. He helps clients integrate their interests in the overall vision for the transportation system of the 21st Century – a vision he set as transportation secretary to promote a safer, more efficient, environmentally sound and sustainable worldwide transportation infrastructure. Secretary Slater also helps state and local government clients address the vexing challenge of closing the gap between transportation demand and capacity by employing public/private strategies and innovative financing solutions. Secretary Slater’s practice focuses on many of the policy and transportation objectives that were set under his leadership, including automobile use and development, aviation competition and congestion mitigation, maritime initiatives, high-speed rail corridor development, and overall transportation safety and funding. He continues to embrace the framework he established as secretary for making transportation decisions that called for more open, collaborative and flexible decision making across the transportation enterprise here and abroad.


For more information, see his full CV.

Michaela Summerer, Junior Consultant, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Michaela Summerer is a junior consultant for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and a Research Assistant at the World Trade Institute in Bern. Her work focuses on market access regulations for LDCs and Rules of Origin in preferential trade agreements. She holds a dual Master’s degree in Global Studies/ Global (Economic) History from the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Vienna.

#openspace is a digitalization platform for German small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 

Customers include but are not limited to the clients of its parent company, Commerzbank AG. #openspace offers its customers various solutions for all stages of the digital transformation. Main services are multi-faceted workshop formats individually tailored to the specific customer. #openspace also works closely with individual parts of the customer’s value chain as well as with strategic partners providing various areas of expertise. The aim is to enable executives and employees of SMEs to independently develop their own digital future.

In addition, #openspace offers access to a wide-ranging network of technology experts and start-ups. Openspace GmbH was founded in January 2017 and is based in Berlin. It maintains regional networks in Cologne, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart.

Learn more about #openspace here.

Pivotal Labs provide a range of innovation services to support customers on their digital transformation journey.  They help customers transform their organization by mastering agile methodologies and focusing on new ways to build software on a modern platform with powerful capabilities. They extend beyond the immersive Pivotal Labs environment to drive alignment and enablement, cultivating a new way of working, which supports continuous innovation. 

Learn more about Pivotal Labs here

In the run-up to its 100th anniversary in 2019, the global medtech company Ottobock has systematically been expanding its presence in Berlin. This summer, the company moved into its new spaces at the former Bötzow brewery in the Prenzlauer Berg district: The Ottobock Future Lab. Next to the company’s Human Mobility business unit, strategic units such as Digital Marketing, Corporate Communications and Corporate Strategy work together in a modern and innovative office landscape at the historical landmark. Last but not least, the researchers and developers of the Ottobock Future Lab complement the interdisciplinary set-up at the site with their state-of-the-art equipment, such as computer-aided design programs and 3D printing to develop and test new ideas and prototypes.

Discover the future of human mobility and visit this unique location that was developed by Professor Hans Georg Näder with British architect Sir David Chipperfield based on a master plan.

Learn more about the Ottobock Future Lab here.

"Strategizing in a changing marketplace: How to stay ahead of the curve?"



  • Dr. Alexander Börsch, Chief Economist and Head of Research, Deloitte

Increasing information density, market complexity and speed of change limit our visibility on strategic opportunities and risks – staying on-course while maintaining agility has never been so challenging. 

Politics, economics, and societies are in flux, yet the way we do strategy has not changed significantly over the last fifty years. Not surprisingly, decision makers struggle to keep their bearing in the unruly world around us. In this session, we will present what we see as the future of strategic decision-making. Based on the integration of timeless strategic thinking with cutting-edge technology, we use AI and big data to identify robust options, activate execution in spite of uncertainty, and assure long-range competitive advantage. Join us to explore the future.

Dr. Alexander Börsch, Chief Economist and Head of Research, Deloitte 

Alexander Börsch is Chief Economist and Head of Research at Deloitte Germany, where he also leads the Brexit task force. He is a member of Deloitte’s global Economics team and of the EMEA Research Center. Previously, he worked as senior economist in the strategy consulting and the investment management industries. Alexander Börsch is the author of numerous studies on German and European economics, Brexit, the geography of innovation as well as the impact of demographic change. His research has been covered by Handelsblatt, The Wall Street Journal, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, The Economist, and Spiegel Online among others. He has also published in a number of peer-reviewed journals and a monograph with Cornell University Press.  Alexander Börsch studied economics and political science at LMU Munich and received a Ph.D. from the European University Institute in Florence. He was a visiting researcher at the London School of Economics, Warwick University and Insead.

"Trade Under Trump" 


  • Alexander P. Imberg, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs
  • Frank R. Samolis, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs

Under the Trump Administration, US trade policy agenda has undergone a significant transformation and disrupted the status quo of international trade. President Trump entered office in January 2017 pledging “fair trade” policies for the US, and trade will likely continue to top his priorities in 2019, especially as several key policy changes develop and legal deadlines ripen in the coming months. With the Trump Administration planning to submit legislation to Congress that would implement the modernized US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), as well as having ambitions for trade negotiations with Japan, the EU, and a post-Brexit UK set for 2019, Frank Samolis will discuss what to expect for the US trade policy agenda in the remaining two years in Trump’s first term as President, as he faces a divided incoming 116th session of Congress, and the potential impact for European stakeholders.

Frank R. Samolis, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs

Frank Samolis is co-chair of Squire Patton Boggs' International Trade Practice division. He advises clients on international trade matters, including trade law, trade policy and legislation, and international trade negotiations. He is also chair of Squire Patton Boggs' India Practice Group and the leader of our Colombia Desk, Latin America Task Force.

For more information, see his full CV.

Dr. Alexander Imberg, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs

Alexander Imberg is the Chair of Squire Patton Boggs’ Global German Practice and based in the firm’s San Francisco office. He is a licensed lawyer in both the US (California) and Germany. As a native German he has been living and working in the US since 1996, where his practice focuses on complex, commercial and products liability litigation for German and other European clients from the automotive, technology and energy industry sectors.


"Artificial Intelligence and Corporate Management"



  • Dr. Robert Weber, Partner, White & Case LLP
  • Dr. Alexander Kiefner, Partner, White & Case LLP

Artificial intelligence has long since arrived at the level of corporate management. But what are the legal requirements for the use of such intelligent systems either for the preparation of management decisions or for autonomous decision-making?  In our workshop we will discuss the legal framework for management and supervisory boards regarding the use of artificial intelligence and the challenges of implementing suitable monitoring systems.

Dr. Robert Weber, Partner, White & Case LLP, Frankfurt a.M.

Robert Weber advises large international corporations on corporate law and on M&A transactions (including tax and capital market law issues). During his last 20 years as a lawyer he has structured numerous complicated legal matters and major transactions and has provided successful solutions to his clients. Based on his experience he gives clear and reliable legal judgement to management and supervisory board members when difficult business decisions have to be made. He also advises on corporate governance, compliance and liability issues. 

Dr. Alexander Kiefner, Partner, White & Case LLP, Frankfurt a.M.

Alexander Kiefner advises companies on all aspects of corporate law, with a focus on the law of listed stock corporations and affiliated companies, including capital markets law issues. Members of the management and supervisory board benefit from his expertise in the areas of corporate governance, compliance, corporate litigation, and intra-group financing. Noted for his cutting-edge knowledge of corporate law, Alexander Kiefner has undertaken various speaking engagements for professional organisations such as Deutsches Aktieninstitut, Börsenzeitung and Bund der Unternehmensjuristen.

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