Third International Obermark Entrepreneurs Conference

More than 100 entrepreneurs, academics and politicians attended the Third International Obermark Entrepreneurs Conference with their families in Jochberg, Kitzbüheler Alpen from May 18–21, 2023. The focus of the conference was on education.

Copyright © Obermark 2023

The International Obermark Entrepreneurs Conference (OUK) is establishing itself as a significant gathering for the SME business community. On the holiday weekend of May 18–21, 2023, the Obermark Group welcomed more than 100 personalities from entrepreneurship, science and politics with their families to the third international Obermark Entrepreneurs Conference. In addition to attendees from German-speaking parts of Europe, guests travelled from the US, Canada, Ukraine, China and other countries.

The theme of this year's gathering was: "Education, Knowledge, Innovation – How we as entrepreneurs can promote education and knowledge and thus strengthen democracy and a free economic order." Dr Sebastian Dettmers, CEO of The Stepstone Group and author of the bestseller The Great Workerlessness, explained what caused the shortage of skilled workers, how the battle for talent is now also being fought globally, and what opportunities Europe has to successfully meet this challenge.

One solution was discussed by Dr Christian Wulff in a highly regarded lecture on integration as an opportunity in the 21st century. The former Federal President and Chairman of the German Foundation for Integration presented numerous examples of remarkable integration biographies and derived parameters for the successful integration of foreign workers from them.

In his speech, the Austrian Federal Minister of Finance, Dr Magnus Brunner, spoke in favour of improving financial education, and provided an entertaining digression through current European politics. The host country, Austria, was also represented by Georg Knill, CEO of the Knill Group (the roots of the family business date back to the 18th century) and Chairman of the country's Federation of Austrian Industries. He discussed in a panel the question of what future-proof education and training for industrial and craft professions could look like.

A tradition at the OUK is the outlook for global economic development by Dr Holger Schmieding. The renowned chief economist of Berenberg has opened all Obermark entrepreneurial conferences to date with this exclusive and insightful lecture. He was followed on this year's opening evening by the successful multiple founder Lukasz Gadowski, who has built up numerous companies such as Spreadshirt and Delivery Hero. He impressed the audience with a very inspiring and encouraging commitment to technological solutions for the great challenges of our time. And Lisa Yasko, Member of the Ukrainian Parliament, gave a presentation on the current educational situation in her war-torn homeland.

Successful concept of a "participatory conference"
In total, more than 20 high-profile personalities contributed to the OUK programme. Dr Peter Sewing, co-founder of Obermark, referred to the special concept of the OUK: "We see ourselves as a participatory conference. It is important to us that our guests take centre stage to exchange ideas, learn from each other, and also actively shape the programme." This closeness, combined with the opportunity to get to know the families of the guests, contribute to the special family character of the Obermark Entrepreneurs Conference, he said.

In addition to lectures, the OUK held work-ons to address specific issues. For example, Bernhard Meffert, headmaster at the Raiffeisen Campus grammar school, led a work-on with Jochen König, CEO of the bus tourism provider König's Reisen, on opportunities for companies to become meaningfully involved in the educational landscape. The work-on on the topic of emotional intelligence developed into a special experience: Dan Klein and Melissa Jones Briggs from Stanford University, along with Severin von Hoensbroech who works as a coach, director, farmer and actor, sensitised those present in this interactive format to the effect of body language and discussed how to define emotional intelligence, why it is important and how to convey it. A total of five work-ons were held; the format is a further development of the workshop to generate solutions to concrete problems in small groups.

Diverse formats and a colourful leisure programme
Hagen Schulte, a co-founder of the Obermark Group, says: "We want to enable participants to meet like-minded personalities with a diverse range of experience at the Obermark Entrepreneurs Conference, gaining applicable knowledge as well as inspiration for new ideas." In a fireside chat, Hagen Schulte reported on his school days and how they still influence his personal value system today.

In addition to the content programme for the exchange of knowledge and experiences, guests enjoyed a diverse range of leisure activities. For the children, there was a colourful selection every day, from football and pony rides to stand-up paddling on Lake Schwarzsee and archery. In keeping with the motto of the conference, the educational start-up Futurespace, from Kassel, founded by Lukasz Gadowski, organised numerous exciting knowledge programmes for children; for example, in the fields of behavioural biology and physics. Adults were not neglected at the OUK, availing themselves of a joint hike on the Hahnenkamm, mountain bike tours, and the darts tournament under the guidance of the well-known TV presenter Elmar Paulke.

New at the OUK was the separate programme for the next generation. At the Obermark Entrepreneurs Conference, this included the successor generation of the entrepreneurial personalities present and the Obermark team, as well as invited students and young female entrepreneurs. The young people held discussions in a confidential setting with such personalities as Dr Christian Wulff and Lukasz Gadowski. University professor and company founder Prof Arndt Rolfs encouraged the "Next Gen" in his talk to be sure to repeat his mistakes in order to learn from them. Dr Peter Raskin, from Bergos, shared how he had to learn to accept an educational path his son had chosen that he had not initially imagined.

The positive feedback from the guests is now motivation to make the Obermark Entrepreneurs Conference a special event again in 2024. The team behind the OUK is already working on this with full force. The location and theme will be announced shortly.

Your contact person:
Matthias Schiller