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Future Communication Conference 2017 - Let’s get in touch

29 June 2017 | By:
Fight Corners

Students and top managers meet as equals at the Future Communication Conference 2017.

Hierarchies were hung up with the jackets: at 36 degrees in the shade, about fifty students discussed for all they were worth with fifty top managers, a company was founded and a sudden summer storm triggered spontaneous team-building.

Starting in bright sunshine and with a view over the Rhine valley, the Future Communication Conference took place for the first time at the EBS Universität. The castle in Oestrich-Winkel was the ideal setting for an informal meet and chat between companies and young professionals. And the concept proved successful: there were not only presentations and a recruiting platform but also so-called “fight corners”, an innovative format giving students and top managers the opportunity for open discussion. The company representatives (from TUI, Rewe, Porsche and DHL, among others) answered questions posed by Generation Y: What makes an employer attractive? What motivates the Millennials to stay loyal to one company? How do we want to work together and communicate in future?

Professor Sven Henkel, together with his wife Dr. Stefanie Henkel the initiators of the conference, began the day in searing heat by inviting the participants to take off their jackets and overcome both hierarchical and language barriers by saying: “you can talk whatever talk you want, we will connect to each other.” The professor of marketing wants to bring companies and young job-seekers together and have tough debates. After a series of inspiring presentations, for example by Elke Eller of the TUI Group on Communication in the Digital Age, the conference went into top gear. EBS Master students presented short films about their expectations on cooperation, work environment and leadership culture, and, in the Fight Corners, “fought” face to face with the company representatives for their concepts for the future.

“It’s great that not only consulting companies and banks are here today, but also a number of mid-size businesses”, says Alexander Görtz, who is currently doing his Master in Management with Professor Henkel. The Millennials are not on a career trip, they want to make a difference. The question “What are you prepared to engage in?” can be summed up in one word by tomorrow’s employees: “Purpose”. “I need to know why I’m doing all this”, Lili Ebner-Stoll states. “Personally, a certain sense of purpose is important. I have invested a lot of energy in my education, but it’s worth all that exertion if you have a purpose to work for. This opens up totally new energy sources.” This energy is also in the air when the start-up Ahoy is launched exclusively in the course of the event. Ahoy was founded by EBS Alumnus Vinay Datta and is a marketplace for entrepreneurs, in the future offering services for start-ups worldwide. “Just believe in your idea and be an entrepreneur“, is Datta’s maxim.

The young professionals not only expect a great deal from themselves but also from their future superiors. They want cooperative feedback in the form of personal coaching, so that they can learn from the experience of their seniors. A company representative at the event counters that it also depends on the employee’s personality: “When I started my first job, I was immediately part of the team and it was a very friendly atmosphere. But some people also need a very competitive environment.” Young professionals often bring fresh ideas into entrenched structures. “Companies want employees to bring along their own values and thus spontaneously change a team if the status quo doesn’t fit”, according to a senior staff member of a German company.

At the end of the day, and quite surprisingly, cooperation and fair play are what really matter: in the afternoon, sudden strong winds and heavy rain threaten to overturn two marquees on the terrace. Thanks to the Millennials’ energy, every last person is mobilised and, together, they form two teams. Apart from much laughter, there are also encouraging cries of “that’s super!” to be heard across the terrace. After heated discussions and this gusty finish, everyone agrees “We must do this again!”

About the Future Communication Conference

EBS Professor Sven Henkel initiated the Future Communication Forum in October 2016 to develop, together with companies and universities, solutions for communication and cooperation in the digital age. So far, six corporate partners (Bayer, B. Braun Melsungen, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Die Mobiliar, Porsche and Rewe Group) and four partner universities (Universität Mannheim, Universität St. Gallen, RWTH Aachen and EBS Universität) are on board. The first Future Communication Conference took place on the campus of the EBS Universität on June 22.

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