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Career Story: Andreas Gémes, Borealis AG

May 13, 2016

Professional MBA Entrepreneurship & Innovation alumnus

What stages in your life have had the greatest impact on you and why? My university years were a very formative period in my life, both in terms of formal education (I chose a generalistic approach and intentionally looked into different academic fields) and in terms of “learning for life”. Many things have happened since then: Starting a family and taking responsibility for a child put many habits and believes into perspective. Did you originally want to pursue a career in a different field? Ever since high school, I wanted to become a diplomat and “fight for world peace”. Along the way, I realized that there are other areas where I can make a difference. This brought me from academia to the corporate world, from international relations to entrepreneurship and sustainability. How and why did you come to work for Borealis? I joined Borealis three months before my official MBA graduation. Before that, I had worked a couple of years in consulting, focusing on topics like innovation and entrepreneurship. This expertise was my entry ticket to Borealis, which houses a “corporate entrepreneurship” unit.  Within the Borealis New Business Development Organization I am able to contribute a lot with my specific background. What has changed in your career as a result of your MBA degree? During the intensive MBA years, it is very difficult to digest all the information being “thrown” at you. In my case, I was very lucky to have the opportunity to actively apply many of the contents of my “Entrepreneurship & Innovation” specialization in real life shortly after my graduation. It proved very helpful to have the state-of-the-art approaches and methods at hand. What was your biggest professional/personal success? I have so far managed to balance my sometimes quite demanding professional life with my private one, meaning that I strive to have enough time for family, friends, sports, and voluntary activities. I consider achieving a healthy balance the biggest success as this needs conscious decisions and constant trade-offs. What are your goals for the coming year? In my team, we are currently working on introducing new offerings linked to sustainability – a challenging but very rewarding task in a large chemical corporation. My professional goal is to establish and grow our portfolio in this area. What do you consider a “great luxury”? Having a quiet Saturday morning with my family with ample time to read the latest edition of DIE ZEIT (a German quality weekly newspaper) along with (several) espressi – for me, this is a great way to broaden my horizons while sitting at home in my wing chair. What was the last book/movie you really enjoyed? This summer on the beach in Crete I read “The Hare with Amber Eyes” by Edmund de Waal. Clear recommendation for everybody living in Vienna and interested in contemporary history – probably better than hours of history lessons. How would you characterize your philosophy of leadership? I believe there is no “one-size-fits-all solution”; an appropriate leadership style depends a lot on issues like the task at hand, human relations, the individuals involved, etc. An ideal leadership style must adapt to these circumstances. Generally, I strongly believe in motivating people by giving them ample freedom and own responsibilities. How do you recharge your batteries when you are not pursuing your demanding career? As a principle, I try not to empty my batteries in the first place. If I wear myself out for half a year, restoring everything in ten days probably won’t work. My approach is to integrate things like sports, different relaxation techniques, time with people I care about, etc. into my daily routines – doesn’t always work but already trying hard gets me somewhere. If you could change places with anyone for a day, who would it be? With somebody living and making a living in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. What would I then be thinking about my daily preoccupations here in Austria? Why would you recommend the Professional MBA of the WU Executive Academy? What did you like the most? The WU Executive Academy is definitely a very good place in the central European region for doing an internationally competitive MBA. I appreciated the hands-on-approach in many courses which makes it possible to transfer the knowledge directly into a work environment. The very diverse cohort of people in my specialization with all the different backgrounds was equally inspiring.


My motto in life …

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. (Henry Ford)

I can laugh about …

Myself and, since a couple of weeks, about my baby boy.

Shortcomings I am most likely willing to overlook …

My own.

I would spend my last money on …

Creating a lasting impact.

In 20 years, I will …

Hopefully be a little bit wiser than today.



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