The World Business Dialog in Cologne – an event for students, by students

The 20th annual World Business Dialog was held this year at the University of Cologne. Some 350 top international students from over 60 countries met from March 6 to 10 at the event on the subject of “Facing change – Transforming Industries for Tomorrow,” to discuss current economic challenges, talk with corporate representatives and find creative solutions to company-specific issues.

The team that organized the event is comprised exclusively of committed students from different departments, who spent an entire year recruiting sponsors, processing over 1,800 applications submitted by students from all over the world and planning the logistics of the event.

Covestro premieres at the World Business Dialog
Covestro developed a special program to promote an interactive exchange with the students: in its “Creation Lab,” three teams of six participants examined a case study on the circular economy. More specifically, the students’ task was to develop a business model for recycling old wind turbine rotors. Over a period of three days, the students were expected to develop their own concepts and ideas. “We made sure the groups were as diverse as possible in terms of the academic and cultural backgrounds of the participants, in order to achieve the greatest possible learning effect for them,” explains Hannah Sebode, Attraction & Recruiting.

The excitement mounted as the third and final day drew near: all three groups presented their ideas to a jury of colleagues from the respective discipline. After the three groups made their presentations, the jury had to select a winner. A very well-conceived and innovative concept took the lead: in their business model, the students suggested building biogas plants from components salvaged from the discarded rotors. “All the students, but particularly the winning team, presented creative concepts that really surprised us in terms of their depth and detail. It is this kind of mindset that is the foundation of Covestro’s innovative force,” says Rebecca Heil of Innovation Excellence, who hosted the workshop. The participants were thrilled with the practical nature of the exercises and the opportunity to network with students from other cultures and disciplines. Participant Zehui Sun from China, who is studying for her master’s in Money and Finance at Goethe University in Frankfurt, liked most of all that “students from all disciplines and nationalities get talking with one another, giving individual participants the chance to view current problems and challenges in the modern business world from different perspectives.”

Dialoguing with participants
The three exciting days in Leverkusen were followed by two equally as interesting days at the University of Cologne. On Thursday and Friday, all the participants had an opportunity to meet and talk with representatives of the participating companies.

Interactive best describes the activity at the Covestro stand: with the help of a 3D image projected onto the floor, participants could first have their picture taken balancing on test tubes or even drinking from one, and then download it from the internet.

Even the requisite accessories of a chemistry career were available as props: equipped with lab coats, safety glasses and straws, the students got motivated and produced any number of creative photos.

The participants, some of whom had traveled from countries like Mexico, India, Pakistan and United Kingdom to join the event, had a chance before, during and after the photo activity to talk with Covestro representatives. They asked about entry-level career opportunities, such as internships, and about Covestro’s corporate culture and what it is like working there.