Leadership in digital evolution: Industry insights 

Ines Eckert

In this interview, we engage with Ines Eckert, director of corporate communications at Stadtwerke Jena GmbH, to delve into her experiences and insights before and during the ESMT Leading Digital Transformation program. Ines sheds light on the challenges she encountered in a rapidly transforming industry, emphasizing the pivotal role of communication in guiding her organization through change. Join us as Ines shares her perspectives on leadership, innovation, and the unique aspects that drew her to the ESMT program. 

What challenges did you face before signing up for this program? 

I have come to realize the essential role of communication in guiding and inspiring digital transformation within our organization. The industry I am currently engaged in is undergoing significant transformation processes, particularly in response to the energy transition. Through my participation in this program, my goal was to enhance my leadership skills, formulate effective strategies, and assist my organization in navigating these transformative changes. 

I strongly believe that this endeavor is especially crucial, given the fundamental role utilities play as key partners for cities and municipalities in transitioning towards a climate-neutral energy supply. Achieving this goal necessitates the adoption of digital business models and technologies, marking a substantial shift in the way we conduct our business. Leadership and development must adapt to be future-proof in the face of these changes. 

Moreover, in my capacity as director of communications, where I bear responsibility for various digital platforms and spearhead change initiatives, it is my duty to inspire and engage. Leveraging my professional background in marketing and communications, I am committed to elevating customer expectations and ensuring excellence in the customer journey, recognizing the indispensable nature of these aspects in our rapidly evolving landscape. 

Why did you choose the ESMT Leading Digital Transformation program? 

Digital Transformation program participants posing for group photo on stairs at ESMT Berlin.

I made the decision to apply for this program based on its comprehensive curriculum, the esteemed reputation of ESMT, and the diverse international backgrounds of its participants. What particularly drew me in was ESMT’s emphasis on leadership and innovation, crucial domains in which I aim to broaden my skill set. These areas are integral to addressing one of the key challenges that my organization currently deals with. 

What sets ESMT’s programs apart is their unique focus, which goes beyond a mere emphasis on leadership or digital transformation. Instead, they intricately merge these two substantial topics into a single program. I find this approach highly commendable, recognizing the profound influence that leadership and digital transformation have on each other. 

The prospect of four full days on-site in Berlin, fostering personal contact, engaging in intensive dialogue, and immersing oneself in the urban and international atmosphere of the city is particularly appealing. The diverse backgrounds of participants, both professionally and personally, contribute to the program and offer a valuable opportunity for networking and learning from varied perspectives. 

Group of Digital Transformation posing for photo on interactive mat.

What were the highlights of the program? 

Noteworthy was Nora Grasselli’s Game, which provided several valuable lessons on leadership principles. Further highlights extended beyond theoretical concepts to include best practices exemplified by industry leaders such as Axel Springer, Claas, or ServiceNow. 

What is your key takeaway from this program? 

There is not only one but a handful of key takeaways which are worth sharing: 

  • Customer First: Prioritize your customers’ needs, focusing not just on enhancing customer experience but genuinely engaging in “problem-solving.” 
  • Diversity: A diverse leadership team enhances creativity, a vital element for future-proofing your organization. 
  • Digital Mindset: The development of a digital mindset doesn’t occur spontaneously; it requires intentional training and strong leadership. 
  • Digital Transformation: If you don’t embark on it, rest assured that someone—perhaps from outside your industry—will sooner or later. 

Would you recommend this program and why? 

I would recommend individuals who are seeking a holistic and cutting-edge understanding of leadership and digital transformation to attend this program. The program is particularly beneficial for those who value a multidimensional approach, as it not only delves into leadership strategies but also explores the intricacies of digital transformation.  

The curriculum’s emphasis on practical applications, illustrated by best practices from industry leaders, makes it suitable for individuals aiming to bridge theory with real-world success. In essence, individuals seeking a comprehensive, forward-thinking, and globally informed program on leadership and digital transformation would find this program highly beneficial for their professional growth. 

Learn more about the Leading Digital Transformation program here.

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