Mentor Karl Fordemann

“This is meaningful living at its best!”

After more than twenty years as its Managing Director, TUM Alumni Karl Fordemann decided to leave the family brewery. Today, he is managing an academy for self-development. A decision that has not been easy for him. What he has learned from this experience, he is now passing on to his mentees.

Karl Fordemann studied Brewing and Beverage Technology at the TUM Campus Weihenstephan in Freising, the “Mecca of beer brewing”. He followed this up with postgraduate studies in Ergonomics and Economics. After all, it was a tremendous responsibility to take over Herford Brewery, which had been run by the family for five generations.

As managing partner of the traditional brewery, Karl Fordemann increasingly recognized how important proper staff management is. “It takes more than engineering knowledge to passionately produce excellent beer,” he says. “It only works if you have employees who are equally enthusiastic.”

Further Training With Consequences

Karl Fordemann took part in several further training courses on human resources management and development. He eventually decided to do something for himself as well and signed up for a seminar in self-development. For even though he found his work in the brewery to be varied and fulfilling, unresolved issues in his day-to-day life and particularly power struggles among the shareholders increasingly got to him.

Karl Fordemann had already encountered Viktor E. Frankl and his well-known book “Man’s Search for Meaning” as a boarding school student. In it, the founder of Logotherapy and Existential Psychotherapy recounts his experiences in various concentration camps. As part of the training, Karl Fordemann once again encountered the Austrian psychotherapist and his meaning-based Logotherapy. The psychotherapeutic approach is rooted in finding meaning and striving for a sense of purpose, even and especially in contradictory circumstances in life. “Viktor E. Frankl taught me that all the challenges you face in life carry a call for meaning,” Karl Fordemann explains. “For the first time, I asked myself in all seriousness whether I wanted to work in the family brewery for the rest of my life.”

Not an Easy Decision

As a result, Karl Fordemann now saw the company’s internal conflicts as a stimulus for professional reorientation. He wanted to embark on a path of self-development. For almost fifteen years, he struggled with the decision to permanently leave his family’s company. “You don’t just give up a traditional family business,” he says. And yet he consistently worked towards it by continuing his training in Logotherapy. And when the brewery was sold to a much larger family business, Karl Fordemann knew once and for all that his future would no longer be in this field. Today he is managing director and trainer at Hohenbrunn Academie – and happier than ever: “I struggled for a long time, but in the end it was exactly the right decision.”

TUM Alumni Karl Fordemann with his wife Sabine Berthold-Fordemann.

Karl Fordemann met his wife at a student carnival prom in 1976. At the time, Sabine Berthold-Fordemann was studying at LMU’s College of Education. When the two are not busy teaching at Hohenbrunn Akademie, they enjoy spending time in the mountains together (photo: private).

Second Calling

The focus of the seminars and workshops offered by the Munich-based training center is on increasing the participants’ self-awareness. With profound conviction, Karl Fordemann points out how important it is to live in full awareness in the here and now and to recognize those opportunities that create meaning in one’s life. “It’s quite a joy,” he says about his second calling. “It is meaningful living at its best!” Large companies such as Allianz, BMW, DaimlerChrysler and especially family businesses send their employees to Karl Fordemann.

I am highly convinced of the idea and the concept of the TUM Mentoring Program.

For many years, Karl Fordemann has been passing on this meaning-based approach to life as a mentor in the TUM Mentoring Program for Students by Alumni. He has already mentored six students in individual mentoring sessions. In TUM Mentoring Classic, alumni serve as personal mentors for students and doctoral candidates for the duration of one year. They support their mentees individually in their personal and professional development. Dozens of times, Karl Fordemann has also offered free workshops and seminars for TUM students on meaning-based self-management, especially in the times of COVID.

Karl Fordemann maintains close and friendly contact with his mentees. Hardly surprising, since he imparts his formula for a meaningful life with incredible warmheartedness: slowing down, focusing on the essentials, appreciating the small things and the great gratitude and satisfaction that ensue. “I am highly convinced of the idea and the concept of the TUM Mentoring Program,” he says. “Is there anything better for a young person than to build trust with a colleague of their own choosing who has professional experience, in order to work with them on questions about life after graduation?”