One thing is for sure – Thomas Klatte never gets bored. After completing his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at Cologne Business School and an MBA at Cranfield University (UK), he successfully gained a foothold in three areas: as a hotelier, management consultant and honorary consul in Ecuador. Today he lives with his family in Cuenca and sees himself as a bridge builder between Ecuador and Germany.
CBS: Why did you apply to study Business Administration at our campus?
Thomas Klatte: Before I moved to CBS, I had already completed most of my basic business studies at the University of Würzburg (Germany). However, my studies were much too theoretical and too slow. I lacked foreign languages and the international aspect of business administration in general. That’s why I decided to look for an alternative and found what I was looking for at CBS.
CBS: Would you still tell us how you perceived your time here back then and where you see differences to today’s topics and methods? It has certainly changed a lot, because nowadays every seminar room is equipped with a smartboard, topics like digitization are becoming more and more important and our courses are much more specific.
Back then, more than 20 years ago, the BA was still quite fresh on the academic market in Germany. We could feel this at the CBS, because many people – especially in the job market – were not yet really convinced of the much more practice-oriented education at university level. The CBS existed a few years before I started studying there, but in a way it was still in its infancy. Many things were already much better in the early years of the CBS than at other universities, and we only brought it to the public.
Today at CBS there are not only various Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes, but a great internationality that we only dreamed of 20 years ago. During the 3 years at CBS, we were really well prepared for the working reality. Many of my fellow students, whom I met before at the University of Würzburg, had much greater difficulties in gaining a foothold in the professional world. We also had more fun!
CBS: What did you like best about studying at CBS?
Thomas Klatte: In addition to the international orientation and the high level of practical relevance due to the lecturer’s experience, I really liked the cohesion of the students and the personal contact with the professors.
CBS: What is your area of responsibility?
Thomas Klatte: I have built my own four-star hotel and am responsible for its management. This includes personnel, quality assurance, controlling and strategic marketing.
As a management consultant, I help companies in their corporate strategy, as well as in production and logistics issues. I am also currently a project manager for an SAP ERP implementation, which is quite a challenge in Ecuador.
I also help Germans as honorary consul who need help in Ecuador, local companies who want to market their products in Germany and Ecuadorians who want to study in Germany.
CBS: What does a typical working day look like for you today?
Thomas Klatte: My alarm clock rings at 5:50 am. My daughter is picked up by the school bus an hour later. Depending on what my morning looks like, I have breakfast at home or in my hotel and read some local and international news.
Three days a week at 8:00 am I drive to my hotel, where the consulate is located. There I have conversations with Germans and Ecuadorians who want my help, have a lot of contact with the German Embassy and at the same time make sure that my hotel works properly. The latter often falls by the wayside because there is simply not enough time left. That’s why it’s so important to me to have good staff I can rely on.
Shortly before 1 pm I drive to lunch, which I can often enjoy with my extended family. In the afternoon I usually work as a management consultant for one of my clients and try to add value there.
In the evenings there are often official events where I represent Germany and its interests. The Embassy in Ecuador does a lot of cultural and economic work, which is often also in my area. I then have the honour of presenting the results to the public at appropriate events.
CBS: What do you like about your work?
Thomas Klatte: In all my fields of activity I have a lot to do with people. That’s where I get my motivation from. In addition, I have always been fascinated by business processes and their optimization. Here, too, nothing can change without the people involved being convinced that we are doing the right thing. This requires sensitivity and empathy.
CBS: Which typical cliché about your current position does not apply?
Thomas Klatte: “Things are only changed to make my work more difficult.” Change processes are often misunderstood. The view of the company is often limited to one’s own work and necessary changes in other areas are only recognized when they have an impact on one’s own person. Nobody would change an organisation if this is not necessary. But the origin of a problem is not always obvious and often affects large areas of a company.
CBS: What are your career plans for the next few years?
Thomas Klatte: I am interested in representing a larger German company in the Ecuadorian market.
CBS: How did your studies at CBS prepare you for your current position?
Thomas Klatte: Of course, the content of my studies was also important, but my studies mainly broadened my personal horizon. Through my international orientation, I realized how experiences from other cultures can have an influence on what I do on the other side of the globe.
During my studies I did an internship in Hong Kong and a language course in Quito. I would never have thought that I would live in Ecuador, which would certainly not have happened if I hadn’t studied at CBS.
CBS: What advice would you give to prospective students?
Thomas Klatte: Take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves to you. Ask yourself with every experience how it can help you in your future. No matter whether these are successes or failures. Both are important. And the most important thing: Find goals and activities that really give you pleasure.
CBS: Thank you very much for the interview!