Frank Appel, born in 1961, has been head of Deutsche Post since 2008. Born in Hamburg, he has to cope with the fact that people are writing fewer letters. But Appel is betting on online trade as well as globalisation - both of which are providing the DHL Group with more parcels, freight and express shipments. Appel, who holds a doctorate in neurobiology, first worked as a McKinsey consultant before joining Swiss Post in 2000.
Climate researcher Antje Boetius, born in 1967, has been director of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven since 2017. For many years, the professor of geomicrobiology has been researching the effect of climate change on oceans and Polar Regions, among other things as part of almost 50 expeditions on international research ships. She is also involved with the science initiative Scientists for future, which campaigns for effective climate policy.
Sophie Boissard sees herself as a companion in the life of the modern man. A graduate of the University of Ena, she has worked for French politicians, then for the SNCF railway group. Since 2016, she has been head of the nursing home operator Korian. This is perhaps the most difficult task, because it is about the last stage of a person's life. She knows about the bad image of the industry. She wants to change that.
Roland Busch, born in 1964, is the first physicist to head Siemens in many years, and that means something. The two-metre man, who has been working for the company for over 25 years and keeps fit with weight training, talks more about digital factories and artificial intelligence than about share prices and the capital market. Back to the roots, then. Back to the roots of the old industrial group.
Thomas de Buhr, born in 1968, formulated one of his guiding principles while still head of Germany at Twitter: "Can you ever be satisfied with what you've achieved? No way!" De Buhr sticks to this maxim - since 2018 he has been responsible for DAZN in the German-speaking region and is driving the expansion of the streaming business in sports with verve. He makes it clear on Twitter that de Buhr is not only connected to sport: proud husband & dad is written on his profile. That comes first.
Melissa Di Donato, born in 1973, has spent her entire career in IT. Via IBM, Oracle, Salesforce and SAP, she finally came to Suse in 2019. Born in the US, she is the first woman to head the open source company and has brought about a number of cultural changes there. In her adopted home of the UK, she was ranked among the ten most influential women in the tech industry for years.
Herbert Diess, born in 1958, is a man who never rests. As Chairman of the Board of Management, the mechanical engineer is radically pushing the Volkswagen Group towards electromobility, against reservations and resistance even within his own company. And in his private life it's similar: kite surfing, paragliding, mountain biking and of course mountaineering, he tries it all. And pausing on a summit, he once said, is not really his thing: because the next one is already beckoning.
Maria Ferraro, born in 1973, is an international manager in the truest sense of the word. Born in Canada, Italian family background, from Nortel Networks in Canada to Paris, then on to Siemens. In spring 2020, she became Chief Financial Officer of Siemens Energy in Germany, and in autumn she also became Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer. The most important woman in her life? Maria Iannuzzi, her southern Italian grandmother. A strong woman, says Ferraro. About money, the financier says: "Cash is king, or cash is queen, the main thing is to have cash!"
Marianne Janik, born in 1965, not only has two citizenships, but also worked for Microsoft in two countries. The German-Frenchwoman ran the business in Switzerland for five years, and in 2020 she took over as managing director of Microsoft Germany. When she moved, however, Janik, nicknamed "Speedy", had to slow down first: Because of the Corona pandemic, she manages a team of around 3000 people from her Swiss home office, most of whom Janik only knows from the screen.
Carsten Knobel, born in 1969, is a true Henkel man. That's what the employees of the Dax company around brands like Persil, Pritt or Schwarzkopf like to call themselves. Knobel, who was born in Marburg, joined Henkel in 1995 after completing his studies, made a career in the cosmetics division and joined the executive board in 2012. Since 2020, the father of two has led the Düsseldorf-based company, the majority of which still belongs to the founding family.
Manfred Knof, born in 1965, dares to perform a balancing act. As CEO of the loss-making Commerzbank, he is cutting jobs and branches because the bank urgently needs to save money, while at the same time investing in digitalisation. Before taking the helm at the "Yellow" bank, the doctor of law was head of private and corporate customers at Deutsche Bank and head of Germany at Allianz.
Carla Kriwet, born in 1971, studied business administration and then worked at Linde, Drägerwerk and Philips. There she was most recently a member of the Group Executive Board, based in Boston, before moving to BSH-Hausgeräte, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bosch, as the new head of the company. Kriwet is also involved with Save the Children.
Ursula von der Leyen, born in 1958, has been President of the EU Commission since December 2019. Previously, the CDU politician had been a federal minister since 2005 - first responsible for family policy, then labour and social affairs, and finally defence. A doctor of medicine, she was born in Brussels, as her father Ernst Albrecht - later Minister President of Lower Saxony - worked there at the Commission at the time.
Dirk Messner, born in 1962, has been President of the Federal Environment Agency since January 2020. He studied political science and economics at Freie Universität Berlin and Sogang University in Seoul. Habilitated in Berlin with the thesis "Challenges of Globalization in South America." He later became director of the German Development Institute, vice president of the United Nations University in Bonn and was a member of the German government's Scientific Advisory Board on Global Change for 15 years. Messner is convinced that the CO2 price for coal, oil and gas must rise significantly in order to achieve the climate targets.
Tina Müller, born in 1968, started as a trainee at cosmetics manufacturer L'Oréal in 1993 after studying business and economics, then worked for Wella and Henkel. In 2013, she surprisingly moved to Opel as head of marketing, where she became the first woman on the carmaker's board of management and repositioned the brand, among other things with the sensational "Umparken im Kopf" campaign. Since the end of 2017, she has been CEO of the Douglas perfumery chain.
The Swede Niklas Östberg, born in 1980, founded Delivery Hero in Berlin ten years ago - a global online network for ordering food. In 2021, the company wants to re-enter the German market with a quick-commerce offer.
He leads a unicorn at the reins: Hanno Renner, born in 1990, is the boss and co-founder of Personio. The industrial engineering graduate built the start-up, which has developed an operating system for HR management, especially for SMEs, with four colleagues in Munich in 2015. In 2019, a consulting firm predicted a billion-dollar valuation, unicorn status in founder-speak, within two years. In January 2021, this goal was achieved. The next is to become an SAP for HR professionals.
Eva van Pelt can talk about pipette tips with enthusiasm. A system-relevant product in the pandemic, for example for evaluating corona tests. The Hamburg family-owned company Eppendorf, of which she is co-chairwoman, manufactures such products and many others that are needed in laboratories. She has adopted the founders' mission to improve people's living conditions.
Markus Pertlwieser, born in 1974, has been head of the digital bank Penta, which specialises in corporate clients, since this spring. Before that, the graduate industrial engineer was head of digital at Deutsche Bank. With 130 employees and 25,000 business customers, Penta is one of the larger institutions in this field. Its services include the classic business account, connection to several accounting clouds as well as other services such as the KfW loan, credit brokerage or commercial insurance.
Suzanna Randall, born in 1979, wants to go into space at all costs - ever since she was a child. "When I was a teenager, I told everyone that I would be the first woman on Mars," the Cologne native told the SZ in spring. In 2008, the European Space Agency Esa was looking for astronauts, but the astrophysicist was kicked out of the first tests "because I was too naive", as she says. Now she is one of two candidates for a private flight to the ISS space station in the initiative "The Astronaut". It remains unclear whether she will actually be allowed to fly. Until then, the enthusiastic paraglider pilot works at the European Southern Observatory Eso near Munich and makes programmes for a ZDF science channel on YouTube.
The conference of the Süddeutsche Zeitung sees itself as a platform for the exchange of experience between top managers and top politicians at the highest level. Find out more about the reports, features and interviews surrounding the conference on sz.de
you will find selected videos from the 2020 Summit in the media library. We have also compiled impressions of the live production on site for you.
The SZ-Wirtschaftsgipfel Salon brings the Wirtschaftsgipfel community together throughout the year and discusses selected topics in a salon atmosphere.