Yes, it is in fact possible, wishes can come true – and it feels so great!

My name is Susanne Berthold-Neumann and I am the program manager for the general management traineeship ProTeam at Lufthansa Group.

One part of the ProTeam concept is called “ProInnovation” and generally covers the issue of innovation. In the past two years we tried different things, e.g. Design Thinking and other new ideas.

In the beginning of 2017 I saw a documentary on German television named “Go West, Geniuses” in which Pascal Finette introduced the Singularity University in Palo Alto, California. I instantly knew and had the wish to fly there with the new ProTeam generation, because I was fascinated by the idea how Singularity University is a place where people gather together who all think about what is going to happen not only in the near future, but also in the far away future.

How well would this fit to the motto of ProTeam: “go shape the future”!

This is why I called Singularity University to talk with them about their approach of innovation and to ask them if they would have an idea of how we could come together. In just a few days I had their concept on my desk, which I really liked.

I couldn’t let go of the idea and so I started to talk with different colleagues about it. Still on the level of “wouldn’t that be great?” and “someone should try it!”. It still was more a wish, rather than a concrete plan.

When noticing that I was not the only one who thought it was a great idea I started to work out a concrete concept.

The general outline and concept of the ProTeam traineeship was restructured three years ago, with the goal to attract young and creative people to come and join our company. The goal: A group as diverse as possible, people with different study backgrounds, different ways to think and different cultural points of views. We know how diverse teams achieve the best results, because they break common structures, take unusual paths, and are more creative and innovative than homogenous teams.

ProTeamler and their tandempartners

ProTeamler and their tandempartners

On the one hand a really good approach, this brought us many strong personalities over the last years. On the other hand, I am convinced that one cannot master the future alone with young and creative employees, as it would not do justice to our management today, which made Lufthansa to what we are nowadays. It would be a mistake to not cherish the experience and success; we should rather acknowledge and learn from it.

On another note, the knowledge we purely generate from our personal experiences, which were really important up to now and which helped us to decide about the strategy for the coming years (e.g. application processes, longtime work experience in a specialized area of expertise) is not a proven recipe for a successful future anymore. One can name many examples in this regard: e.g. the development from mechanical production to 3D printing, from combustion engines to electric cars, from bank branches to crypto currencies, just to name a few.

Acting out of this conviction the tandem-idea arose, connect young ProTeamers with experienced managers, going to Singularity University together, to address the topic of exponential developments together, learning from the point of view and different perspective of the tandem partner, maybe mutually visualizing an unforeseen and different future for our company.

I presented this idea to the new generation of ProTeam who started last April. What I didn’t expect was their reaction: wide-eyed faces, pure excitement and enthusiasm! So we presented this idea together at our Lufthansa Innovation Fund Board, to get the funding we needed to continue our planning and the implementation of this pilot project.

And you probably guessed right – we got it!

In front of the room where we held our presentation the rest of the group was waiting for Florian, Sabrina and me and I cannot put in words how happy and hyped everyone was, we couldn’t believe it at first! On this occasion I would like to thank all the ProTeamers who supported me actively and helped turning this wish into reality! This was a great example of exceptional teamwork!

Susanne, ProTeam and Tandempartners preparing for Singularity University

Susanne, ProTeam and Tandempartners preparing for Singularity University

Ever since we all, next to our everyday work, had to put a lot of effort into the successful outcome of this project: fitting tandem partners were searched all over the Lufthansa Group and found on all different kinds of management levels, new communication platforms were being used to not have to write too many mails, tandems met up and discussed, we had a common meeting with almost all tandems to talk about how we want to implement the results and newly obtained knowledge back into the company and everyone worked on finding and organizing individual tandem-suiting company visits which are going to take place after our workshop at Singularity University.

Now it is just a few days until we are getting started and we are all very excited for what’s about to come – we especially want to make it possible to give something back to the Lufthansa Group after our stay!

Whoever wants to follow this remarkable project can follow us on our different social media channels!