“I want to lead the Programme into a new generation”

The Manager Training Programme (MP), which is implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), is under new management: Anne Jach-Kemps took on the position of Head of the Programme on 1 April as successor to Reimut Düring, who is retiring after nine years in this function. In an interview, Anne Jach-Kemps describes what spurs her on and how the Programme should develop in future.

Ms Jach-Kemps, you have recently taken on the Programme leadership of the MP. What made you decide to do so and where does the appeal of your new position lie?
I have already been working for the MP for the past three years; so far, I have been in charge for Egypt, Chile, Mexico and Tunisia and overseeing their implementation of the Programme there. So, I know the Programme very well and it fills me with enthusiasm – not only regarding the objectives, but also the cooperation with the various stakeholders. In the past few years, I have worked closely with Reimut Düring, helping to shape the holistic approach, which meant that I was able to take on the new tasks within the course of the Programme implementation. The MP has existed for over 20 years now and benefits from its flexibility in adapting to changing framework conditions. For instance, the current pandemic situation poses considerable challenges but is, at the same time, also an opportunity to lead the Programme into a new generation. All this contributes to the appeal of my new position. As a qualified architect, I enjoy combining innovative approaches and complex contexts with multifaceted circumstances. I am very much looking forward to my new role.

What does the position as Head of the Manager Training Programme involve?
The range of tasks is diverse and the scope of my responsibilities is larger than it was in the past. My activities will be less in the operative and more in the strategic area. This includes supporting and steering the conceptional and strategic orientation of the Manager Training Programme together with the BMWi in the coming years and developing it further with the partners, with a clear view to the future. For me, this means getting to know all partner countries with their characteristics, interests and motivations and to always keep these aspects in mind for the implementation of the Programme. The partnership approach is very important for the MP because the Programme can only remain so successful for our participants if all partners continue to actively support it.

And what do you like most about your work?
The diversity of the tasks, the intercultural contacts and the specific features of each partner country as well as the continual further development of the Programme. And, of course, the people for and with whom we carry out the Programme. No two working days are the same.

What do you want to begin with and where are your priorities?
We are currently preparing the Manager Training Programme for the so-called new normality and want to ensure that it is well positioned for the period after the pandemic. We are glad that we can provide the Programme during the crisis – at the moment in a virtual format. And we see the points that have proved successful in the virtual format and present new possibilities for knowledge transfer and cooperation. Therefore, we are currently very busy developing the concept of the Programme further due to the Corona pandemic and the resulting digitalisation boost. Our aim is to combine the positive experiences made with the digital tools and the experiences gained over many years of the four-week Programme in Germany.

What exactly does that mean?
We are still in the development phase. But I can already say this much: The cornerstones will remain unchanged. The three modules of the Programme, i. e. the manager training, the on-site visits to companies and the B2B meetings, will be retained as they have proved their worth over many years. On the other hand, we see potential for improving the efficiency of the training programme with regard to methodology during its three months – from the introductory workshop up to the end of the stay in Germany. First and foremost, we want to be sure that the participants are even better prepared for their stay in Germany so that they can make more efficient use of this time. The stay in Germany will still be the core part of the Programme; our participants want to experience and explore Germany as an industrial location with all their senses. In our review, we are also taking a close look at the post-processing period leading up to the follow-up and want to place more importance on it. Through the many years of Programme implementation, we know that a sustainable approach leads to good, successful business relations and to changes in enterprises in our partner countries.

How will the Programme be organised in 2021?
This year too, the virtual Programme format is well accepted in our partner countries, and we are planning to implement 54 groups. Not only does the virtual format offer the participants flexibility with regard to place and time, it also provides them with the necessary know-how and contacts for successful business initiation with German firms well ahead of a trip to Germany. Moreover, our participants learn about the expectations that German businesses have of foreign enterprises. We want to enable the alumni from 2020 and 2021 to take part in the so-called completion stay in Germany as soon as the framework conditions permit. Unfortunately, it is currently not clear when international travel will commence again and German firms will be able to welcome delegations from abroad.
We are also increasingly working with our alumni in the 21 partner countries to respond to their need for support during the crisis. It is important to us to promote networks and contact structures among our thousands of alumni.

What do you recommend to entrepreneurs who will soon be participating in the Virtual MP?
German firms are open for a virtual exchange, as the past few months have shown us. Hence, my recommendation is: Make use of the virtual format in order to enhance your cooperation goals. Work on the documents that you need for initial business contacts. Take the initiative and contact German firms; don’t wait until you are physically present in Germany. I advise everyone to conduct as many online talks with German companies as possible. That will equip them for future live meetings. Experience shows that contracts are also concluded online.

Let’s take a look into the future: What will the MP look like in five years’ time?
By then, the digitalisation boost that we feel at the moment will have brought new, firmly anchored elements to the Programme. We will have then introduced and established a format with the BMWi and the partners that is perceived as modern and is well accepted by the participants.

Finally, please tell us your secret: How do you manage to keep track and a cool head despite the numerous tasks your new position brings with it?
Fortunately, I don’t have to cope with everything alone. I work with a strong team at GIZ and the BMWi is a committed client. We work in close communication with all our partners and that makes me confident that we are on the right track. Naturally, a good balance between work and private life is important to me, and my husband and two children give me a lot of strength and pleasure. We even got a new dog during the pandemic – an absolute gift for me to go for walks in the woods every day and switch off or sort my thoughts.

Thank you very much for the interview!

Photos: © Barbara Frommann