This was the Future Leaders’ Summit 2019 ...
Mid of May 2019, we welcomed 23 young professionals and business students from 23 different universities here in Ludwigshafen for our Future Leaders' Summit 2019. It had already been quite a journey so far - all participants had to submit an online application, pass an online test and then convince us in a personal video interview. However, this had been rewarding, we think, for both sides. When we met all participants for the first time in the Hotel Lobby of the Moxy Hotel Ludwigshafen, it got confirmed: these young people are up for a real challenge.
Day 1 #GetToKnowBASF
In the very first moments of our Summit, we already asked for some creativity from the participants with the task to put down a hashtag on their name tag which describes their personality best or maybe something they would like to share as a first impression. We quickly noticed that these selected young professionals from all around the globe, with 17 nationalities represented, are forward-thinkers and ready to question the status quo. The following get-to-know-game “world map” confirmed the diversity of backgrounds but also the similarities in hobbies and study fields.
The first day was all about #GetToKnowBASF. That is why we started our joint journey with a tour through our Visitor Center, where we got to know all the products and industries BASF works in. Gaining an insight into how BASF supports us in our daily lives, for example in nutrition and health or the sports industry, has been particularly impressive for our young talents. What followed was an exclusive BASF production tour. The BASF HQ in Ludwigshafen is – if you have not heard about it until now - comparable with Manhattan in its size. We were able to visit one of the Steamcrackers, which is the heart of the site as many base products for our Verbund are produced here. Afterwards, on top of all these new impressions, we met Michael Heinz, one of our board members. He authentically shared his own inspiring journey within BASF, but also took the chance to share some personal learnings and step stones he experienced during his career. With no surprise, a lot of questions were asked, which were then discussed over dinner in the BASF René-Bohn Hotel. Not only Michael Heinz but also further senior leaders joined the dinner table, which surely led to a great and inspirational ending of Day 1.
Day 2 #TheWorldNeedsSolutions and #WeNeedYou
Day 2 started with another highlight as Markus Kamieth, part of the board of BASF, came to share his own thrilling journey through the world of chemistry. Our participants highly valued the authenticity as their feedback revealed. We went on to next points on our agenda even though our participants probably could have exchanged ideas with Markus Kamieth for much longer.
As this day was all about #TheWorldNeedsSolutions and #WeNeedYou, we therefore involved our TOP START Community in the preparation of the day through bringing in current BASF business challenges. In the morning, the young talents got to know our TOP START Alumni and current TOP START participants as well as their way into and within BASF. What followed was a Co-Creation Campus, in which our young talents had the chance to work together with our Alumni on a current and real business challenge. We saw a lot of potential in their ideas and solutions, which they presented not only to the TOP START Community, but also to some senior managers, who joined our event, especially, in order to listen to their valuable perspectives and ideas.
Before starting another working session, we learned about the location we were currently working in. As the BASF Designfabrik is not a typical event location, it was even more impressive to gain an insight into the work of a BASF designer who is, for instance, involved in the development of the exclusive boost energy material used for ADIDAS sports shoes. After some exchange and networking over lunch, the participants showed us again their potential to lead and collaborate by working on a typical business case. Again, many other senior executives were invited to listen to their presentations. To regenerate and relax in the evening, we finished the day off with a culinary wine tasting in the BASF Gesellschaftshaus – a part of the BASF culture you should definitely not miss out on.
Day 3 #TellUsMoreAboutYou
Even though the last two days had been intense, our joint journey went on: Day 3 was under the motto #TellUsMoreAboutYou and took place in the LuMit, the Work-Life Balance Center of BASF. We started with personal speed interviews to discuss individually which path our participants might take and what impressions were gained over the last two days. At the same time, our students worked, divided in different stakeholder groups, on their Future Dialogue “Shape Your Tomorrow” with Julia Harnal, Vice President for Global Sustainability & Governmental Affairs and therefore an expert in the agricultural business. How can we ensure that people will have access to healthy, safe and affordable food? Who will be the customer of the future? These were only some of the questions the students intensively discussed with Julia Harnal and the resulting conclusions turned out to be more than forward-looking and inspirational.
Over lunch and dinner, we invited our Future Leaders’ Summit 2018 Community, which gave our students another great opportunity to get to know how diverse the entry possibilities with BASF look like. And what should not be missed when visiting Ludwigshafen? A trip to our beautiful region, specifically the historical city of Speyer. We started with a traditional dinner in the Domhof Speyer Restaurant and finished our third day with a city walking tour.
Day 4 #CreatingACommonPath
Last but not least Day 4 started under the mission: #CreatingACommonPath
Even though the last days had been definitely demanding, the participants had to be ready for some more interviews and maybe challenging questions. Some of our young talents went through their final interviews for the TOP START International Business Leader Program. Another part of the group finished the event with discussing ideas and next steps for a common BASF journey in our on the spot career coaching sessions. We can say that this event was not only a lot of fun but for sure a success for both sides!
The interaction with our senior leaders, in particular, as well as the Co-Creation Campus and the Key Note speeches were named by our participants as highlights. What they have learned you might ask? BASF is everywhere and has a great company culture, offers diverse career paths and the commitment to integrity and sustainability is real – only to name a few of the answers. When finally asking the participants how they would describe the Future Leaders’ Summit in one word, the most frequently given answer “inspiring” says it all, doesn’t it?
Now, we are excited how this journey will go on and we would like to thank all involved BASF employees for their engagement, their preparation and their commitment to present their work and themselves authentically and approachable. Finally, we would also like to thank YOU as a participant for your motivation, commitment and engagement, which contributed a lot to the success of our event!