“I am a Fan of the Programme”

In an interview on the fringe of the Partner Conference, Dr Karl-Ernst Brauner commented on the Manager Training Programme (MP). As Director General for External Economic Policy of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) until the end of August 2013, Dr Brauner was also responsible for the Manager Training Programme. He was appointed Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization WTO in September.

GIZ: Dr Brauner, since when have you been in contact with the Manager Training Programme and in which function?
Dr Karl-Ernst Brauner: I have been involved in the Programme since 2001 and have regularly participated in the Partner Conferences since 2006. At BMWi, I am responsible for external economic policy. In addition, I was co-chairman of the steering committees with Russia and Kazakhstan.

The MP has developed from bilateral cooperation with Russia into an international programme in the past 15 years. Did you foresee this development?
I gladly admit that, even with the most optimistic view, nobody (including me) could expect that the Programme would be so successful and that there would still be such strong demand for it in 2013. In the course of time, the original altruistic orientation of the Programme has increasingly given way to a partnership at eye level with stronger emphasis on economic cooperation. The success is already evident from the fact that the Programme will shortly already be carried out with 19 partner countries on four continents.

Is there an event, an encounter that you look back on with particular fondness or satisfaction?
I have gained a great deal myself during this time. I have met interesting people and experienced cultural diversity through the Programme. I have been to places that I would otherwise never have visited, be it in Krasnojarsk in Russia – far beyond the Ural Mountains – or in Kazakhstan. I have particularly positive memories of Bowodoje in Kazakhstan: There is a stone there which fulfils a wish after you have circled around it seven times. I succeeded  that same evening, Germany beat Argentina 4:0 in the football World Cup.

What makes the Manager Training Programme so unique?

If the Programme didn’t already exist, it would have to be invented in this flexible form. The standards we set when selecting the participants are high, as are those we require from the training academies. In both cases, they are essential prerequisites for the success of the Programme. The MP is a free-market programme: Within a pre-defined framework, the players are independent and responsible for their own actions. The managers can decide for themselves how they want to utilise the Programme. We also regard sustainability as a decisive element of the quality of the Programme. Here follow-up seminars and consistent alumni work are the keys. Communication and networking among the participants beyond their stay in Germany are absolutely essential elements of the Programme and are rightly very much appreciated.

Who, in your opinion, benefits most from the Manager Training Programme?
I think both the individual participant and their company, as well as the respective national economy. As already mentioned, it is up to the individual manager to make the most of their participation and to decide how to utilise the know-how gained in Germany and the opportunities offered for direct contact to companies for their own benefit and that of their company.
I was very pleased by the feedback a participant gave me at one of my last steering committee meetings. He said that he had benefited through learning something about interaction with employees in Germany, which is characterised by appreciation. He saw it as not only being a cultural characteristic in Germany, but also of economic significance. Employees are not only an expense factor, but constitute the actual value of a company. Appreciated employees are more productive, imaginative and committed – for the good of the respective company. This insight can also be part of the experience gained from the Programme.

How much importance is placed on the Manager Training Programme within the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology?
The Programme enjoys strong political recognition and has proved itself as a sound component of bilateral external economic relations.

What are your personal plans for the future?
This is my last Partner Conference as a representative of BMWi as I will shortly be taking up my post at the WTO in Geneva. However, it does not mean saying goodbye to the partner countries, but just the change to another function. In this new function, I will surely still be in contact with the partner countries in one way or another.