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The EBS Symposium - here everything is conceivable and everything possible

20 October 2017 | By:
Opening Speech EBS Symposium
CAMPUS DATE… with EBS student Tim Kleinpeter who presided over Europe's largest student economic congress last year.

Every week a “team meeting”, every week a “head meeting”. This is what it looked like for Tim Kleinpeter last year. Tim was chairman of the recent 28th EBS Symposium , that was held this year under the banner of “The next big thing”. Together with chairwoman Beke Flathmann and the entire team of 60 students, he was responsible for the organisation of an economic congress with 750 delegates from all over the world and renowned speakers such as Professor Andreas Dombret (Deutsche Bundesbank) or Professor Burkhard Schwenker (Roland Berger).

Meanwhile, the personable economics student is relaxing in the canteen in trainers and linen jacket and talking over a cappuccino about the greatest thing he has accomplished so far in his life. Despite all the noise around him, the blond 21 year-old seems thoroughly laid-back. No wonder - compared with all the hustle and bustle he’s just been through, a brief interview like this, so to speak on the hop, is no big challenge for him any more. “The ‘Corporate’ team has to contact all companies by December at the latest. And that’s a list of 500 companies!”, says Kleinpeter. “At a certain point you don’t feel like a student any longer. You go to the Campus as the venue of the Symposium and not to your uni”, he laughs.

That is not so far-fetched either, because every year the idyllic Schloss campus of the EBS Business School in Oestrich-Winkel is transformed into a bustling area with presentations, panel discussions and a career fair. Young people in suits swarm along the paths and occupy the whole campus, from the inner courtyard, turned into an open-air restaurant for the duration, via the white marquees and finally to the large forum in the Kiep Center. For three days everything is conceivable and everything possible. The next innovative product idea could emerge over coffee in the canteen or you find the long sought-after corporate partner during a boat trip on the Rhine. How do you feel when you are suddenly standing face to face with well-known decision-makers from industry and politics? “You feel immense respect and that is important. But you can also pluck up enough courage to just speak to these people and treat them like everyone else around you”, says Tim, who remains very modest. “You shouldn’t see it as an ‘ego-push’. This is not about personal benefit but about the Symposium.”

Keep cool

It is clear to see that, for Tim, the Symposium was top priority for one year, when you learn that this dedicated student took on all the organisation voluntarily, to make this fantastic event work: “I was in the department ‘Innovation Fair’. Interaction with the companies is very relaxed as they are all start-ups. I tried to find direct contact, went to trade fairs, spoke to people. Towards the summer I then realised that I would have to take over the responsibility for ‘speaker relations’ as well, as this was not yet staffed. And then when we realised that 16 out of 40 speakers were missing, including four moderators, I thought: If you don’t do that now, the Symposium won’t happen. I suddenly saw myself confronted with a whole new field of activity”, Kleinpeter explains. “From this point on, I felt I had taken over tasks from every department.” But it was not just the amount of work that presented a challenge for the young organiser. It was not always easy to make clear to his peers in the same semester: “Do what I say”. At the same time it was important to get the message across: No-one stands over the others! Whether one is team member or chairman. He stresses this fact over and over again.

It was worth all the effort: despite all the stress, the team members pushed each other onwards. One “felt a sense of solidarity that I had never experienced before”, says Tim. In his closing speech at the end of the three-day congress he has reached the tension peak but, at the same time, is also incredibly happy about what they have achieved together. This is the moment when he realises what genuine team spirit is. “This moment, when everyone comes up to you and hugs you, you feel this ultimate team spirit: that was probably the most intensive experience I have ever had in my entire life. Actually, in my speech I merely expressed my appreciation of the entire team. But afterwards I suddenly realised that the others had appreciated me, too”, he says, while thinking back to that remarkable moment, and can’t help smiling to himself.

Round 2018 has already begun

Still riding on the wave of enthusiasm for the recent event, the energetic student is already thinking about the next time: currently, eight department teams are being assembled for the Symposium 2018. “I have conducted 27 interviews this week. The students have applied with a motivation letter to us ‘oldies’ and there have been interviews, too. For me the most important criteria is finding people with character. We are not looking for people who are perfect and can do everything. But we are looking for people who have the potential to learn everything in the course of one year.” The team head will then be selected out of the new teams and the chairperson is selected from the group of team heads. At the weekend, the “oldies” and the “newbies” will meet at the Frankfurt club “Gibson” to kick off the project. They want to pass on all the know-how gained over the past year to the new members and also to find a new motto for the 2018 Symposium, which will be the 29th EBS Symposium With his self-assured manner, one immediately believes that he has a great deal of know-how to offer. “When I applied to the EBS they asked me if I could see myself in a leadership position. At that time, I was not really certain. Now I am 100 percent sure: that’s just the ticket for me!” he sums up. “But first and foremost I am happy that from next week I will be “just” a student.”

More information about EBS Symposium on: http://ebs-symposium.eu/

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