Innovation expert Marion A. Weissenberger-Eibl

“I am fascinated by how new things come into the world”

After completing her Abitur TUM Alumna Marion A. Weissenberger-Eibl did an apprenticeship as a tailor. Today the futurologist is among the top 100 most influential women in the German economy, and she acts as a consultant to the German government.

After graduating from school with her “Abitur” qualification, Marion A. Weissenberger-Eibl decided to do an apprenticeship as a tailor. This decision can be explained by her understanding of the craft, as she sees tailoring as a genuinely creative act in which something new is generated. With an eye to the future, she already knew when she started her apprenticeship that, after that, she would study and then go on to be an engineer. From 1987 to 1991, Marion A. Weissenberger-Eibl studied Clothing Technology at the University of Applied Science and Technology. Until 1997 she was in charge of production at one of Munich’s large luxury labels.

During this time, she became increasingly aware of the importance of innovation and the decisive role it plays in economic issues. This prompted her to study Business Administration at Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich. But that was not all. “I always wanted to go into things in much more depth in order to find out when and why innovations come about and what framework conditions have to be in place,” Marion A. Weissenberger-Eibl recalls. The next step was to do her doctorate.

Marion A. Weissenberger-Eibl turned down a number of attractive offers from universities, wanting to complete her PhD at TUM. “To my mind, TUM has always been a pioneer among Germany’s technical universities,” she says, explaining this decision. “Research excellence and the university management’s entrepreneurial attitude are outstanding pillars of TUM that I find really exciting.” In 2000, Marion A. Weissenberger-Eibl completed her doctorate – followed three years later by her post-doctoral qualification.

Highest degree of networking

Since then, Marion A. Weissenberger-Eibl has been involved in influencing innovation processes in Germany on all fronts, whether in science, business or politics. Her work and research focus on the management of innovations and technologies, strategic foresight and planning, corporate networks and knowledge management. She sees a very high degree of interdisciplinary networking as the fundamental driving force and motor for innovation, and this is something which she herself is the best example of.

From 2004 to 2012, she headed the Chair of Innovation and Technology Management at the University of Kassel, and since 2013 has been in charge of the Chair of Innovation and Technology Management iTM at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. She provides Germany’s Federal Government and Länder with strategies for the future as well as sustainability strategies, and advises the Federal Government in matters relating to the development of research and universities as a member of the Science Council.

It is my wish that we develop a vision as part of a joint process that motivates all of us to work on the future together.

Together with TUM President Wolfgang A. Herrmann, she is currently working to promote innovative university thinking in the founding of the new Technical University of Nuremberg. And that is not all – she also sits on the supervisory board of three major corporations. It’s no wonder that Marion A. Weissenberger-Eibl was named one of the top 100 most influential women in the German economy by Manager Magazin in 2018.

A companion for the future

In addition to the good scientific education she gained at TUM, Marion A. Weissenberger-Eibl also received the key qualifications that help her to cope with the many tasks she faces. “Curiosity, courage, efficient organization and freedom in my own thinking and work are things that I learned from TUM”, she says. The strategies and techniques over and above the knowledge imparted during her studies, which she learned from her two mentors, her doctoral supervisor Professor Horst Wildemann and her co-adviser for her post-doctoral qualification Professor Ann-Kristin Achleitner, continue to help her to this day.

 

For years Marion A. Weissenberger-Eibl has been an enthusiastic mentor at TUM herself, acting as a companion to young students and helping them into their future. “Mentors are extremely important for personal development, but also for an innovation location like Germany,” she emphasizes. When she needs to recharge her batteries, Marion A. Weissenberger-Eibl likes to go hiking. “Although my job gives me a lot of pleasure, I also need time just for myself,” she says. “Walking is very important for me because it gives me strength and new energy. Roaming around in unspoiled nature often helps the futurologist come up with new ideas and visions. “That’s why I always have some paper and pencils with me when I go hiking, so that I can write down my thoughts and ideas.” If you want to shape the future, you can’t waste any time.