In matric 93 Martin Stolberg studied industrial engineering at the TU Ilmenau and started working in 1999. He has been working at his current company in various roles since 2001. He can bridge the gab between his studies and his first job (small consultancy, then start-up, then the current company) quite easily: "I can incorporate many elements of what I learned in Ilmenau. What's even more important is that learning really starts on the job, there are just a lot of things that you (rightly) don't learn at university."
The team in Munich visited him at his company.
I can say that my studies have been a celebration and it could have been going on five years longer, but at some point you have to work... I have very good memories of the university, I went to events there earlier, such as concerts or club evenings, because I lived close by. The student clubs were open minded, from time to time there were music festivals organized by the clubs, so there was a certain affinity. I have very good memories of it.
The lectures were very interesting, challenging, but very personal due to the good relationship with the professors. I also organized and even founded student associations: the student management consultancy, Swing e.V., the student association of industrial engineers and we founded Inova. So there was quite enough to do.
The industrial engineering course in Ilmenau is a very good course, I have learned three subjects: engineering (electrical engineering, communication technology), in combination with business administration (human resources, corporate management) and then law (European business law), you don't become a specialist but a generalist who understand the mindset of a specialist in the subject. Every specialist thinks specifically, I can absorb this and work with it on a broad basis. All of my fellow students work in different professions. In the technical area, as the person responsible for IT or security, in the logistics area, in the finance area. The purpose of the course is to be able to lead teams, departments or companies.
Personally, I wanted to go into management consulting, I had the opportunity to start at a management consultancy as a business development manager instead of a consultant and to be able to build a consulting team and then, in principle, complete the dream of opening a corporate office in Munich. That was very exciting. I started my job for 6 months in Paris for training before I came to Munich. Based on the experience of the first company, we then founded the second management consultancy together with partners. In the end, I fulfilled another dream of going to Brazil and here I also started as a consultant before working for the industry for 1.5 years. I'm the technical director here, i.e. all areas such as logistics, production and purchasing are in my area of responsibility.
These are the stories that write life. In our degree program, there was a mandatory internship that lasted six months. My internship was canceled at short notice and within two months I found a new internship at Copeland in Belgium. During this time I visited Brussels and the office of the European umbrella organization of student management consultancies "JADE" (today juniorenterprises.eu/). I came into contact with them through my work in the student management consultancy in Ilmenau. At a party there I saw an exchange student dancing samba on the table. During the conversation with her, I learned that she was from Brazil and that there has not yet been a return visit to Brazil. Then I decided to go there for a semester and was able to get to know life there in 1998. My dream of living in Brazil came from this time.
2009 was the big financial crisis and a month before I left for Brazil, I was informed that my contract had been terminated because the project was no longer financially feasible. However, my ticket was booked, my apartment and job canceled, so I went anyway. My “Brazilian family”, which gave me accommodation in 1998, was still there for me. I started as a management consultant, as a self-employed person and founded the business start-up consultancy Techmall and carried out a project at Celer, among other things. I later joined the company full-time. At the beginning there were only six employees at CELER, from 2015 on I was no longer able to work for both companies at the same time. As of 2019, I left Techmall and completely dedicated myself to CELER. That means it was a coincidence that I went to Brazil. If the girl hadn't danced on the table, or if she had come from Argentina, then maybe I would be somewhere else now.
At Celer, I am responsible for the industrial sector. We import and distribute solutions in the field of health diagnostics. I am responsible for purchasing materials, production, and regulation at the Brazilian health authority (ANVISA), for quality management and for Celer’s strategic projects. It was a bet on the future to invest in a company that I advise. That is why the path has already been correct.
The main principle is the difference between living in a world that is very determined and planned and in a world that is not determined and planned. When I live in Germany, I can plan my investments very well. In Brazil, every new government, every four years, the hitherto created things are overturned. You notice this big difference in your whole life: While you can follow the plan in Germany and have great difficulties changing plans, it is exactly the opposite here. There is no planning here, but the solution is presented in a very short time. You have to take the best of both worlds. In the company we can now start to balance: How much planning do I need and how much flexibility? Bringing these two cultures together is very nice. The second big difference is that this is very much about relationships. In Germany people are very used to talking about work, to criticize work. Here you have to put the relationship with people in the foreground. If you criticize a work result, it is taken personally. When communicating, you have to find a way that people are looked at and that people are valued.
I can very well remember a pre-founding meeting of the student union of industrial engineering and the spokesman at the time simply handed over the baton to me and said: "Just keep going." Met students that was unique. With the help of these fellow students, we also founded the student management consultancy sci and Inova. It was an intense life, we had a large number of lectures, then the student jobs: Among other things, I was on the faculty council and on the student council for a year. And then in the evening from 8 p.m. there were parties. There wasn't a day that we didn't celebrate or work hard. That was what my studies were all about: the work, the study and the partying.
At that time there was also the Iswi with the main project of the international student week. With my good friends, we pretended to be foreign students, it worked very well and we got drinks the whole evening. The next day we went to a concert at which Rammstein also performed when they were still at the very beginning. Still with torches instead of big fireworks. We talked to the friend and other students said to us: “You can speak German?” Unfortunately we couldn't remember the previous evening, but later we found out that they had bought us drinks for the whole evening.
Every evening a party, full of clubs. The professor who shouts in the lecture: "Please don't fall asleep" when you were about to nod off. Heavy snowstorms on the way to the lecture, and then the outline of the university buildings emerged in the snowstorm.
First of all: definitely start your studies and go through with it. It is not always easy because the study effort is very large. Look for fellow students and use the common strength. You always hear that the pressure is very high and that everything should be completed as soon as possible. This pressure should be taken out. In any case, you should enjoy your studies.
I would also advise my children to study at the TU Ilmenau. It is a question of what to look for. For me, Ilmenau had the advantage of being able to finish my studies very quickly. The technical level of the university is also very high. On the other hand, we had a very familiar study life. I've lived in Berlin and worked in Munich, these are totally different styles of life. So you get to know a different social life.