Kerstin Günther, Managing Director Deutsche Telekom Pan-Net and Senior Vice President Technology Europe, has been at the Deutsche Telekom Group since 1991. She is responsible for technology, IT and technical service in the twelve Deutsche Telekom countries in Europe.
Her task is to set up an integrated, centralized, virtualized and cloud-based production infrastructure for all service platforms. She sees a bright future for STEM graduates. "I don't know of anyone who began their career with finance and then switched to technology – but I do know many people who first completed technical training and later decided on a degree in a totally different field," explains Kerstin Günther.
The world is becoming more digital every day
The fact is that STEM fields, in other words, training in careers related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, form the basis for many more and broad development opportunities in politics, science and research. STEM subjects in particular are in the spotlight worldwide as the world is becoming more digital every day. What's called for is a general technical understanding. Kerstin Günther is convinced that an education in one of the STEM fields provides a solid and broad foundation for a professional future. Technical know-how is needed worldwide. Günther: "I see this, for example, in countries like Hungary and Croatia which already promote training in STEM fields in a targeted and intensive manner."
"The best part of my professional development"
She herself is an electrical engineer with an MBA in finance. She has longstanding experience at Deutsche Telekom in managerial positions in Hungary and Slovakia. Looking back, Günther assesses this period as follows: "For me, a career would be unthinkable without experience abroad. In my opinion, looking beyond your own little world is part of a successful career. So for me, my experiences abroad were actually the best part of my professional development." Günther remembers the first ten years of her career, when she worked abroad, as especially positive: "I learned an incredible amount and took in everything that I could."
"t was essential to deal with different cultures"
In Hungary she worked on a joint venture that had been initiated by Telekom and a U.S. company. Three nations came together there. In the process, it was essential to deal with different cultures, to argue and, above all, find joint solutions. As an engineer, she learned a lot from the Americans. In her view, the strengths of U.S. companies lie primarily in the financial sector, for example, in balance sheets, preparing for IPOs and in marketing. Günther says she learned a lot about political behavior from the Hungarians. They were good at finding alternative solutions and approaching topics in a different way. Added to that was their flexibility and their use of networks.
Proud of East German roots
She sees herself as a European manager and is proud of her East German roots. Growing up in the GDR was also often a plus in her work in central and eastern Europe: Whether it has to do with the languages, emotions and culture or the never-ending search for pragmatic solutions. She sees the ideal employee of the future as someone who is open, not afraid to try new things and willing to pursue lifelong learning. Above all, they need to have an understanding of a wide variety of different subjects and acquire wide-ranging knowledge.
More pan-European rules are needed
Her goal is to Europeanize business and the labor market in the telecommunications industry. Her reasons: In the U.S., four network operators serve 300 million people. In China, it's even as many as one and a half billion people being served by four network operators. In contrast, in Europe there are at least 200 operators for a good 500 million people. Standardization and more pan-European rules are needed in order to be more efficient in production and be globally competitive. This is why she demands, "We need a reliable and strong pan-European telecommunications infrastructure. And we have to return once again to our strengths: technology, innovation and creativity. Only then can we survive within Europe and be a world leader. If we want to provide our own impetus for innovation, whether it's in Berlin, Krakow or Budapest, we need a framework in order to invest and retain the right employees in Europe."