University Chancellor Andrea Bör

“In extreme situations I remain very calm and focused”

For decades, TUM Alumna Dr. Andrea Bör has been moving unerringly on the management levels of male-dominated domains. The engineer is now Chancellor of the Free University of Berlin.

Andrea Bör spent 18 years at TUM where she studied and earned her doctorate, and where she held her first management positions in research and university administration. When she studied Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at TUM, she was one of only 20 women, and therefore something exotic. “At that time, you could still hear whistles in the lecture hall when a woman entered it,” she remembers. “And there were ten of us in our study groups, nine male colleagues and me.” And yet the contacts she made then have survived to the present day. One of her former fellow students is the godfather of her youngest son, another met his wife at her birthday party.

A PhD instead of industry

Andrea Bör’s doctorate was never planned. After achieving her degree, she wanted to enter industry, but the mother of four children was apparently not trusted by personnel managers to successfully balance career and family. So she decided to stay at the department – which turned out to be a stroke of luck, as Andrea Bör knows today.

At first, she worked as a research assistant in the department, to later become a consultant to the Vice President, supporting him in implementing a large IT project. “It meant working as a consultant as well as working as a project manager – exactly my thing,” says Bör, who enjoys application-oriented work. At the same time, she was able to get a taste of university politics. “That certainly paved the way for me to move on to administrative management,” she adds. The die was cast in favor of this career path when she became Managing Director of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology.

It was a very, very good school and luckily I was never daunted by just doing the job.

From that point on, Andrea Bör keenly pursued her career. In 2008 she became Chief Information Officer at Saarland University, in 2011 Chancellor of Passau University, and since July 2016 as Chancellor of Free University of Berlin, she has been responsible for an annual budget of around half a billion euros with around 4,500 employees. Every single time along this path she had to follow in the large footsteps of men before her. “These conditions were instructive for me in every respect,” says Andrea Bör. “It was a very, very good school and luckily I was never daunted by just doing the job.”

Supported by her family and by mentors

Andrea Bör was not only supported by her husband and her family, but also by important advisors and companions. She herself was a mentee in various programs and later became involved as a mentor at TUM. Her first mentor was TUM Alumna Maren Heinzerling, who organized the first Munich Girls’ Technology Day in 1990. Andrea Bör was allowed to work in the organization as a high school graduate. “Maren Heinzerling accompanied me through my studies. She supported me, even when I went to Berlin. Her advice and her place as a role model in my life are very important to me,” says Bör, who considers role models to be very important, especially for women, so that both women and men can realize their full potential.