"Being part of the NextGen Initiative not only benefits me professionally but also personally," says Christine Wenzel, a member of the current NextGen cohort and Head of Corporate Affairs for DACH at Hewlett Packard Enterprise in Berlin. At the conference, participants enjoyed a diverse, interdisciplinary program comprising discussions, workshops, team activities and much more. The goal of the conference was to provide a platform for young, up-and-coming business leaders from various industries and sectors to connect with one another and to hear speakers from the arenas of politics, business and journalism.
Becoming a business leader and ambassador for transatlantic friendship
AmCham Germany partnered with its member Allianz to hold the conference at the company's offsite location at Lake Starnberg. Claudia Donzelmann, Global Head of Regulatory and Public Affairs at Allianz, welcomed the group on their first day, and pointed out in her keynote that the relationship between business and politics is undergoing fundamental changes and that transatlantic young leaders should have a deep understanding of the different factors that influence these changes.
Also Dr. Sylvia Rothblum, Vice President and Diversity Champion of AmCham Germany as well as a member of the NextGen Selection Committee, welcomed participants to the conference and the NextGen Initiative. She emphasized: “It’s our goal that our NextGens become ambassadors for transatlantic friendship in their companies and that they learn what it takes and what it means to be a business leader.”
AmCham Germany's NextGen Initiative: Connecting young professionals with political and business leaders
This year's site visit took place at the Microsoft Germany headquarters in Munich. The group met with Anna Kopp, Head of IT at Microsoft Germany, who discussed the factors that are determining the transformation of work: people, locations and technology. "We have to keep in mind that the changing workplace should accommodate individual working habits," Kopp said, emphasizing the emotional aspects of a changing work culture.
One objective of the conference was to bring new NextGens into contact with AmCham Germany members. One of them is Belchem GmbH, a Mittelstand chemicals company based in Freiberg, Saxony. Dr. Robin Richter, CEO of Belchem, discussed the challenges faced by a Mittelstand company when scaling its business and conducting transatlantic business. In his remarks, he also pointed out the cultural differences between the US and Germany: "The US is an early adapter when it comes to new business ideas. Germany can learn a lot from this approach," Richter said. Belchem's export rate is 65%, 85% of which involves its business with the US.
Besides visiting various companies and engaging in conversations, discussing politics was also part of the agenda: Dr. Tobias Lindner, Member of the German Parliament and Spokesperson for defense policy for the Alliance '90/The Greens parliamentary group in the Bundestag, introduced the group to current political challenges in transatlantic security policy. Tyson Barker, Program Director of Transatlantic and Digital at the Aspen Institute Germany, also attended the conference where he spoke about the 2020 US presidential elections as well as the complicated dynamics and developments within the Republican and Democratic parties.
This year's NextGen conference was a unique opportunity for rising young leaders to network with their peers across sectors as well as to meet political and business leaders and top members of the media. Many team activities, such as raft building, helped the group coalesce and established a special conference atmosphere. All participants agreed that successfully conducting transatlantic business requires a deep understanding of the transatlantic partnership. Creating this understanding and generating future transatlantic ambassadors are the goals of AmCham Germany's NextGen Initiative.
How to get involved? - More about AmCham Germany's NextGen Initiative