How well did your academic studies prepare you for the challenges of working life, up to and including your current job? What did you find especially useful?
The degree course at Frankfurt School equipped me with a well-stocked box of useful tools to take with me as I embarked on my professional career. They still come in very handy – even though, at the time, I sometimes had doubts about how useful they’d be! I found the combination of theory and practice particularly helpful, not to mention the opportunity to familiarise myself with a wide variety of subject areas and try out new theories in a risk-free environment.
Looking back, how important was your time as a student at Frankfurt School in the greater scheme of things?
My degree course has lost none of its importance over the years. It’s always been one of the highlights in job interviews, and has often opened the door to new responsibilities and challenges. The extensive network of students and alumni both inside and outside the company means I can easily share information and ideas.
What’s your favourite memory of your time at Frankfurt School?
Whenever I indulge in a stroll down memory lane with other Sternstrasse alumni (Sternstrasse is where the business school was located in those days), one of the first things we remember are the student parties in the basement of what was then the Hochschule für Bankwirtschaft. You have to imagine a small, tubular room with a bar, packed to the rafters with students. At peak times, we used to have to pass drinks around over people’s heads, with condensation dripping from the ceiling. Later in the evening, Professor Seeger would bring out his guitar and we’d sing through the entire back-catalogue of songs by BAP (a well-known German rock group). Not that I want to give the wrong impression! The exceptional thing about my time as a student was the great sense of solidarity, team spirit and mutual support throughout the course, both while we were studying and on a personal level.
How important are alumni for a business school? What do you think alumni can do for their alma mater?
Alumni act as living advertisements for a successful higher-education policy. They represent their university and form a network of expertise, opinions and lifestyles – not just in terms of their academic or professional achievements, but also in their private lives. Conversely, universities shouldn’t ignore the views of alumni, and should be open to their ideas and suggestions. That’s the only way to build a successful symbiosis between a university and its former students. Frankfurt School and its staff have really taken this to heart and excel in university management.
What’s your favourite motto?
As a good Cologne boy, I always keep strictly to the 11 articles of the Cologne Charter (the sensible way to live life)! *
*Translator’s note: for more on Cologne’s charter and other idiosyncrasies, see e.g. here and here.