Handelsblatt Pathfinder: Lots of Ideas for the Future

Magazine, 04.05.2018

100 young ERGO executives, eight management boards, 30 hours and countless ideas – these are just some of the numbers that sum up the Pathfinder Congress, which the Handelsblatt Media Group holds once every year on Labour Day as an opportunity to reflect. 

A blue sky interspersed with fleecy white clouds floating above the Tempodrom in Berlin Kreuzberg, inspired discussions around tables on the terrace: In addition to ERGO, Vodafone, Daimler, Techniker Krankenkasse and Douglas, among others, participated in the “Pathfinder”, which took place this year under the motto “The future is wow”.

Some of the topics on the agenda were social robots, digital transformation, authenticity and trust. Each of the management boards from the various companies invited their own respective guest speaker.

ERGO CEO Markus Rieß talked about the topic of trust in the digital world: “We’re looking forward to the digital future, but we also have to be aware of the risks and to manage”, he emphasised. Present was his guest, Dr. Sandro Gaycken, Head of the Digital Society Institute at the ESMT Berlin, who poignantly pointed out the dangers of digitalisation. His argument: “There is no total safeguard. Anything can be hacked. There is no trust, all that can ever really be attained is trustworthiness.” To prove this, he demonstrated live on stage how easy it is to spy out data from Bluetooth devices. To that Markus Rieß remarked: “Insurance will never be able to prevent a hacker attack. What we can do, however, is help costumers to minimise the risks and to get a grip on the financial consequences.”

Daimler Director of Research Ola Källenius introduced the young start-up founder Clare Jones. Jones devised a global address system that makes it possible to pinpoint precise locations even in remote regions without streets. With “what3words” addresses consisting of three words are allocated to geo-coordinates. Daimler is excited about this idea and wants to integrate this system into its vehicles: Driving destinations could then be found by entering three words into the navigation system.

Nadia Magnenat Thalmann, Director at the Institute for Media Innovations at the University of Nanyang in Singapore, brought her concept with her: Nadine, a social robot, which the researcher modelled visually after her own likeness. It's clear that robots are taking on an increasingly more important role in our lives, says Jens Baas, CEO of Techniker Krankenkasse, who invited Thalmann to the presentation.

“We underestimate the future”, trend researcher Yuri van Geest aptly professed while speaking about the digital transformation at the invitation of Vodafone. “The far-reaching shifts are growing at an intensifying rate.”

Similarly impressive was Symone D. Sanders, Democratic Party Strategist in the US and Communications Consultant, who was introduced by Douglas CEO Tina Müller. The focus of her speech was authenticity – the people behind the messages are more important than the messages themselves. Her plea for more self-confidence was highly applauded.

At the end of the intensive day the participants from ERGO agreed on one thing: A lot of good discussions and valuable impetus for the future contributed to making the conference a successful event.

More information and impressions about Pathfinder can be found on the website of the Handelsblatt:





Author: Kristina Tewes

Impressions of HB Pathfinder

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