Infineon-Chef Reinhard Ploss

„Falling down and getting up again“

Dr. Reinhard Ploss is leading chip manufacturer Infineon with vision and a feeling for future trends in technology. His courage in important decision-making stems from his time studying at TUM.

When Reinhard Ploss studied Process Engineering at TUM in the 80s, the main campus resembled a construction site. Instead of the old chemistry buildings in the courtyard, there is a big pit, which is supposed to become the location of the new main auditorium soon. Reinhard Ploss is sharing the lecture room with several hundred other students and is only occasionally distracted by the environment’s flair with all its pubs in Schwabing. Today, the 62-year-old holds the position of the CEO and has a large bright office at the Campeon in Neubiberg, Infineon Technologies AG’s location. The company premises’ architecture consciously draws on a campus atmosphere. Even though you won’t find full auditoriums here, the daily challenges of an internationally active business are visible: a construction site. Infineon is growing substantially, in just a few months Reinhard Ploss will inaugurate a new building, housing more than 800 workstations.

Reinhard Ploss is CEO of Infineon Technologies AG since 2012. He spent almost his whole career in the company, which was still a part of Siemens when he joined in 1986. During the first decade of the new millennium the market for chips collapsed and the company was in the red. But Reinhard Ploss was quicker than his competitors in switching Infineon’s production plants to Industry 4.0 and thus made the company a worldwide trailblazer. Trusting his own abilities is a skill he has acquired from studying at TUM: “It was a time of learning how to find one’s feet. This experience, the necessity to stand on one’s own, was very exciting for me.”

Dr. Reinhard Ploss and two members of the WARR Hyperloop team.

Sharing experience: at the Infineon Innovation Week Dr. Reinhard Ploss is speaking with members of TUM’s WARR-Hyperloop-Team. The students have developed a high speed train, which moves in a tube with partial vacuum at a speed, almost corresponding to the velocity of sound. (Foto: Infineon).

Formative Years of Learning

Early on in his studies he starts to work as an assistant at the Chair for Process Engineering. This leads him to a doctorate, a very formative time for Reinhard Ploss: “These were years of learning that I wouldn’t want to miss.” Even though his doctorate was only of little influence for his career in terms of content, it was still very significant for his professional life. “I learnt to analyse a thematic field, hold presentations and practiced to remain clear and understandable, even when going into more technical details”, says Ploss. “And if you ask me about the main challenges in my position today: it is to say something with simple words, so that everybody understands it and gets excited about it.”

Reinhard Ploss got to know the highs and lows of professional life during his doctorate degree. He still benefits from this experience today: „ To get up again and again, after having fallen down and to experience, how to deal with such a situation is very helpful later in life.“ Being at university is a precious time and offers a lot of freedom. You ought to use this, Ploss emphasises with regard to the next generation: “I prefer young people to see the world and learn something, rather than rushing through their studies and then just throwing around dry theoretical knowledge, so to speak.”