“We have to leave old patterns“

This year's Campus for Family Business was held on Friday, October 12, under the key question "Entrepreneurial families with a future?" at Campus Vallendar of WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management. In workshops and panel discussions, the participants exchanged ideas with established family entrepreneurs and their next generation on topics such as shaping the future of German family businesses, the prospective cooperation with start-ups and the changing corporate culture.

Keynote Speech by Christiane Underberg, Managing Director of Semper idem Underberg AG

The themes of innovation and sustainability ran through the entire program. When asked about the promising factors of cooperating with startups, Felix Fiege, Managing Director of the fifth generation at FIEGE Logistics, explained that the logistics company follows the innovative spirit as an example set by the startup scene. In doing so, the family-owned company incorporates cooperations with start-ups by implementing new business models. Under the guiding principle "Cooperate instead of copying," among others, the industrial startup Westphalia DataLab for the analysis of company data and the online logistics service PALETTENHELD.COM emerged.

Christiane Underberg, Managing Director of Semper idem Underberg AG, also conveyed a claim to innovation to herself and her traditional family business. The managing director understands innovation in the sense of a holistic change in the corporate culture. This change can be achieved by putting the human in front of the structure, thus giving the employee a voice. With the words "We have to leave old patterns,“ Underberg emphasized that forward-looking and sustainable action should take place on the most diverse levels of a company. That begins, for example, with the expansion of skills of the employees and extends to mutually questioning and discussing overarching issues in everyday life.

Also in the panel discussion of the young round, the traditional thinking was broken up and set on innovative action. In contrast to the male younger generation, on the female side, with Lena Schaumann and Verena Bahlsen in the round, the trend was to found own Berlin-based startups. In Schaumann's case, her startup Lumizil, which was to bring "the two worlds 'stationary' and 'online' together," was incorporated into the furniture family business as an independent unit, and with Bahlsen's multi-faceted HERMANN's restaurant, a new platform for a more sustainable food industry was established. When asked how much growing up in a family business has affected the younger generation, they all agreed that they were grateful that their parents gave them an example of what it means to run a business.

WHU Institute for Family Business annually organizes the Campus for Family Business under the direction of Professor Dr. Nadine Kammerlander. It offers the opportunity to combine theoretical aspects of science with practice, discussing topics such as innovation, leadership, and succession in family businesses. 

Panel discussion of the joung round (f.l.t.r.): Lena Schaumann, Verena Bahlsen, Rick von der Becke, Maximilian Deharde and moderator Michael Oelmann

Workshop by Natalie Meckelburger, Chairwoman of the Executive Board of Coroplast Fritz Müller GmbH & Co. KG

Dinner Speech by Dr. Juliane Kronen, Founder and CEO of innatura gGmbH