EBS Universität graduates toss their hats at their graduation ceremony

Jessica Holzbach

Forbes 30 Under 30 // Europe 2020: Finance

Easy and fast banking as well as flexible financing solutions for start-ups and small to medium-sized companies, that is what Penta offers. Founded in 2016 by Jessica Holzbach, Luka Ivicevic and Lukas Zörner, Penta today supports over 15,000 companies and currently employs more than 95 people in Germany and Italy.

Portrait of Jessica Holzbach: EBS Alumna and CO-Founder of Penta Bank

EBS Alumna Jessica Holzbach, Co-founder & CCO of Penta

What has been the biggest challenge in your business career so far?

Each day is a new challenge. Every problem seems huge and deadly difficult when it emerges, but with the time you learn to deal with it and take things a little more calmly. For example, the decision back then to give up my secure job in management consulting to start my own business was extremely difficult. Today, I’m glad I took that risk although the first attempt was not so successful.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?

Especially at the beginning, it is important not to complicate everything and to just get on with the task in hand. It is okay not to have all the answers to every question. You can still solve these as you go along. If I had known then just how complicated it is to set up a bank, I probably would have abandoned the idea. A healthy mix of naivety and courage is needed for this.

Which mistake would you have liked to avoid?

I would have liked to have realised earlier that the only person who should make important decisions about your life is you yourself. Don’t get me wrong - there is plenty of well-intentioned advice and certainly the one or other good mentor and advisor. But any advice must be carefully weighed and one needs to remember that it is always seen from the perspective of the person giving that advice. So, particularly during the set-up phase, there are many people who will advise you against it. But that’s absolutely normal.

What brought you to EBS Universität back then?

I had been to a commercial high school and was certain that I wanted to study economics. An acquaintance of mine, Benedikt Kalteier, was at EBS and after hearing all the positive things he had to say and after my visit to the Open Day, I decided to apply for the study programme.

To what extent did your studies at EBS Universität provide you with added value for your work?

I learned all-important specialist principles at EBS. Also how to deal with stress and high levels of pressure and demands. Working in student initiatives and organising congresses is the perfect way to learn how to organise and conduct events in a short period of time.

Your best memory of EBS Universität?

The best time was my semester abroad in South Africa, the time between the 5th and 6th semesters spent writing my bachelor thesis and the final weekend after graduation. We all felt the world is our oyster and that come what may, we could cope with anything. :)

What does the alumni network offer you?

Always the right contact person you are looking for, also good events and information.

Do you have a (daily) routine you always keep to?

The only routine is that I have no routine. I get up at a different time every day. I know that some might find that strange but every evening I think about what I want to do the next morning and day and plan accordingly.

Who is your great role model?

I hope, myself in 20 years’ time ;). Apart from that, there is no particular person but there have been many people who have really helped me a lot and who encouraged me in the past.

What are your goals for 2020?

That everyone in Germany knows that Penta is the best alternative to traditional banks.

Read more:
30 Under 30 // 2020: Finance

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Melanie Thomas
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