Since the winter semester 2018/2019, the Technical University of Munich has been active at the Heilbronn campus with its TUM School of Management (Germany). The School of Management offers courses that focus on digital change management and family enterprises. Research and teaching are designed to build bridges between economics and engineering within a dynamic, international environment. This creates modern fields of research, such as those related to digital transformation and platform economics, which are used by innovative companies in the Heilbronn-Franconia region, but also worldwide.

Students at Heilbronn have to choose between three different programmes. One of them is the Master in Management & Innovation. Young professionals with a university degree and some initial professional experience can take advantage of this Masters programme to qualify for attractive careers in technology-driven companies.

The programme always includes a practical phase within a company, allowing students to apply their newfound knowledge, and in some cases perhaps even trigger solution-oriented change within their partnered company. Students acquire useful skills, such as analytical thinking, an understanding of how to work at interfaces, communication skills, and assertiveness, as well as in-depth knowledge of operational functions, from their professors at the TUM Heilbronn campus.

Due to the coronavirus, applying the acquired academic knowledge to real business problems was especially challenging this year. Students needed to familiarise themselves with their employers, colleagues, responsibilities, internal company structures, measures, and temporary goals in a completely remote setting.

Nevertheless, various attractive companies offering exciting tasks continued their recruitment, including IBM, the Voith Group, and Alfred Kärcher SE & Co.KG, where Tim Langendörfer spent some time as an employee. Tim was responsible for solving management problems in the Product Management & Marketing Department for Indoor Products at the Winnenden branch. “Ultimately, the goal was to perform scientific research, identify the right methodological approach, and develop a strategy to establish recommendations for management. Specifically: develop a marketing and communication concept for Kärcher in the growing market of cleaning robots,” he explained.

The Head of Programme at the TUM School of Management on the Heilbronn campus was pleased with the overall progress. Everybody was delighted at how the students managed to exceed expectations under these unprecedented conditions and truly make a difference within their companies. “I was impressed with what they achieved in their limited time. They did an amazing job researching a topic that was completely new to them and applying a rigorous analysis to solve the challenge presented to them. I was very pleased that the collaboration between Kärcher and our students was beneficial for both sides and was generally felt to have unfolded very smoothly,” one of the professors said.

A conversation with Petra Kowald from Kärcher revealed that she and her colleagues found it enriching to receive an outsider’s perspective. The reason was simple: “The fact that students were not familiar with the internal restrictions allowed them to think more freely. As soon as an outsider starts asking questions about ‘why’ we do something in a certain way, it encourages us to take off our ‘Kärcher glasses’ and consider things within a larger context. The questions asked by the students allowed us to look at our project and robot image from a different perspective.


Image rights: MATT STARK photography