Embracing uncertainty

February 6, 2021, marked ESMT Berlin’s first TEDx conference, TEDxESMTBerlin: Embracing Uncertainty, and this was an event organized by MBA and Master’s in Management (MIM) students from Net Impact ESMT. Net Impact ESMT is the Berlin chapter of Net Impact,  a global community of students and professionals aiming to be effective change agents. Our chapter is the only one in Germany and we have received ‘Gold Chapter’ status, which is awarded to top-performing global chapters for two years. 

During my application to ESMT, I spoke with Anda Marin-Lange from the admissions team who is closely linked with Net Impact ESMT and she informed me about the chapter and this upcoming event. My interest in social entrepreneurship stems from my time at Ennovent, a venture catalyst for sustainable development in low-income markets. The focus on sustainability for the event was music to my ears, as this is an area I wish to focus on in the coming years, particularly with regards to the healthcare sector. 

I contacted Luka Zrnic, the president of Net Impact ESMT and we found a way for me to get involved, even though my move to Berlin was four months away. I became the head of speaker management for the event, effectively acting as the link between our speakers and the organizing team at ESMT.  

The focus of the conference was on “Embracing uncertainty”, – a topic which many would agree has become even more relevant in the last year. The broad theme of the conference enabled our 11 esteemed speakers the opportunity to speak about the topics they are passionate about. Our aim was to provide inspirational insights and enable our audience to think differently.  

The passion exhibited by members of the organising committee led to the success of the conference. Whether they worked in partnerships, marketing, or operations, the enthusiasm was palpable as we moved towards the day of the event. The chance to work with super talented MIM and MBA students was definitely one of the highlights of this experience for me. 

One goal of the event that we as a team set, was to host a “normal” event as much as possible, given the restrictions set in place due to the Coronavirus. We are grateful that we were able to host speakers on campus. Naturally it was a shame that we could not have an audience, but the online Zoom registrations surpassed our expectations, therefore we opened a live stream on YouTube to accommodate the increasing interest.  

Over 2,700 people logged in to watch our inaugural event featuring speakers talking on topics ranging from AI to climate change, to macroeconomics. All the speakers are experts in their specific fields, and this was evident with the enthusiasm with which they spoke. It was important for us to feature speakers from varied backgrounds, and they ranged from ESMT professors, to CEOs, to senior partners of organizations.  

A huge bonus for me was the chance to host the event at ESMT’s beautiful campus in the Audimax, with its distinctive floor and interior decor. This added to the sense that this was an ESMT event rather than having a generic stage that could have been in LA or Sydney. This personal ESMT touch will remain in the future and I know many people were impressed by the grand setting. 

There are many lessons to take from this first event and we received some really constructive feedback to take forward to next year’s event. The nature of the event meant the breaks between each set of three talks provided a stop-start experience for our online viewers; we obviously hope for a physical event next year, but this is a point that we will take note of for other events. 

All of the talks provided several learnings for our viewers whether it was learning about environmental, social, and corporate governance from Wladimir Nikoluk or understanding the work of Lubomila Jordanova in assisting firms to aid the transition to a low carbon future. 

If you missed the event and would like to watch the recordings, here is a list of the talks and a link to each recording:  

I would like to personally thank ESMT and in particular, Max Peukert, marketing manager at ESMT, who was a massive support throughout the planning process and during the day of the event. Kudos must also go to Luka Zrnic for conceiving the event and leading it perfectly from start to finish. Finally, a huge cheer to every member of the organising committee who put so much effort into this event while juggling internships and university work! 

Our hope is to host an event with an eager audience on site for a traditional TEDx experience so stay tuned for more information!