Silke Lehnhardt

Head of the Office for Innovation, Organization, and Digitalization for the City of Wiesbaden, Germany

“When I was approached by my boss to see if I was interested in joining an International Masters, it felt like a lottery win. This was back in the 1990’s, the world was less globalized at that time, and it sounded to me like a great opportunity to learn, grow and gain more international experience. I had just taken over my second management position and was eager to take any challenge to develop further.”

With over 25 years of professional experience spanning both the private and public sectors, Silke Lehnhardt has used the skills gained on the IMPM, along with the lessons gained from her own industry experience to transition into a role as the Head of the Office for Innovation, Organization, and Digitalization for the City of Wiesbaden, Germany. Prior to this, Silke spent over two years as Senior Vice President at Deutsche Telekom AG, overseeing the development and operation of IT applications in the company’s finance, human resources, and procurement departments, to name just three.

But back when she undertook the IMPM, she was working in human resources and project management positions at Lufthansa, one of the largest airlines in the world. It was here she first learned of the IMPM.

Lufthansa has regularly sent their most promising leaders through the IMPM, where, like  Silke, they had the opportunity to build their skills and gain invaluable learning experience amongst an internationally and industrially diverse cohort.

Silke says it was this exposure that expanded her global perspective and helped hone her leadership skills. “The program’s setting, spending several weeks at five different campuses in different countries, the different nationalities and faculty present, it all exposed me to a rich experience of different cultures and management philosophies,” she explains, underscoring the program’s blend of academic rigour and experiential learning.

For Silke, the opportunity to learn from the other participants, as well as from the programme’s global faculty was incredible. “One of my elder classmates with much more managerial experience than I had at that time once said to me – ‘as a manager, you have to deal with the big strategic issues and the very small and personal issues. All the rest you can delegate’. That’s what I did ever since then, it was very valuable advice.”

Such perspectives, as well as the exploration of new management mindsets, fresh thinking and personal reflection, proved instrumental in helping her make the leap into leadership. Silke later went on to hold various leadership roles at Lufthansa including Head of Business Process Management and then Chief Information Officer.

Silke found the IMPM transformative, providing invaluable lessons and empowering her to step into leadership. As a woman, Silke says the IMPM gave her the confidence and support to navigate career challenges, with the help of an enriching network.

“Joining the IMPM offers you the unique opportunity to be part of a strong international network of smart people with very different backgrounds, competencies, and nationalities,” she says. “That’s a wonderful gift. 25 years ago it was not easy for women to climb up the career ladder. The IMPM gave me the sound feeling that I can do and play in this league.”

Now, over 25 years after completing the programme, Silke believes it still impacts her career journey today. “My professional career would have been different if I had not participated in the IMPM,” she highlights. “It was a perfect opportunity to challenge me and become more aware of my strengths and weaknesses, interests and talents.”

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