Global Head of Business Development

I AM: Global Head of Business Development

Dr. Maximilian Hemgesberg
Covestro Germany AG



Dr. Maximilian Hemgesberg started his job as laboratory manager after completing his doctorate in 2013. He is now Head of Business Development for the Specialty Films department at Covestro Deutschland AG.

Why did you choose your specialty? What attracted you to it?

While studying chemistry, I decided to specialize in Inorganic Chemistry . I still have fond memories of the lectures in inorganic and experimental chemistry during my undergraduate studies and the respective internships. Inorganic was therefore shortlisted for advanced studies and doctoral studies at an early stage. The subject also covers the large areas of organometallic, catalysis and organic-inorganic hybrid materials. This variety of exciting topics, but also the cooperation in the working group of my later doctoral supervisor and the good supervision of the doctoral students there, ultimately made the difference.

How did you start your career?

I started my professional career after an industrial internship in Singapore in 2013, but not with my current employer. Both before and after my job change, I worked as a laboratory manager, although the organizational activities in both companies were very similar.

As a laboratory manager, I was responsible for the development of new products, partly also for their transfer to production.

For this it was always necessary to deal intensively with new scientific areas and to learn new things. The area of the formulation of paints and inks and the functional surfaces produced with them formed the focus of my research. I also always enjoyed being responsible for a laboratory and my employees. With a good team and helpful colleagues, even unfamiliar tasks such as laboratory safety in a large company and writing patents are no problem at the beginning.

Did you know that you wanted to go into your current professional field? Or were there other stations that brought you there?

Already relatively early in my studies it became clear to me that I wanted to work in the chemical industry after completing my doctorate, because I was still enthusiastic about many other topics besides chemistry, such as economics, history and languages. When I start out as a laboratory manager in a large chemical company, learning doesn't stop, it actually just begins. After almost ten years in research and development at the university and in industry, I am now partly responsible for the products I work in business development my current employer. That gives me a lot of fun at work every day.

I am glad that I have already been able to take on various functions - precisely because not everything can be planned.

What are you doing today? What are your responsibilities as Head of Business Development?

I work as Head of Business Development for some of the products in our Specialty Films department at Covestro. I'm responsible for laying the foundations for a successful future for these products. This means that I exchange ideas very intensively with many different functions, such as research, production, sales and product management, and prepare strategic decisions. At the same time, I accompany large customer projects and coordinate our activities with my team. Since I have employees in Europe, the USA and China, it is also my job to ensure that information is exchanged quickly and efficiently and that everyone receives the support they need for their work on site.

What knowledge and characteristics should you have for your professional field?

In my current job I have little to do with chemical research, but of course my studies still help me a lot in explaining our products to our customers and helping them use them. Business issues such as production costs, supply chains and prices are no longer foreign words to me.

In my opinion, the most important characteristics are definitely curiosity and the willingness to learn something new every day

- not from books, but above all from colleagues and employees. Working with international teams also requires very good English skills and "antennae" for intercultural communication. Flexibility, the ability to criticize and courage are part of my day-to-day business.

Describe a typical working day. Are there any unforeseen events that require your attention? How do you work with colleagues? Do you work in a team?

My day starts between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m., either in the office in Leverkusen or in my home office. I think I have a very varied and exciting everyday life: Sometimes I mainly talk to sales and our customers. On other days I work focused on strategic issues or discuss the current status of their projects with our overseas teams in telephone and video conferences. I regularly prepare decisions of major importance for approval by our management team. Every day I am in contact with a large number of functions in our organization. The exchange with research, application technology, production and product management shouldn't be neglected - often complex tasks can only be mastered in a team. If there are different opinions, the best solution is sought intensively but objectively. Everyone contributes his or her skills as best as possible - this is how the unforeseen can be mastered.

To what extent does your day-to-day work differ from that during your studies / doctorate? To what extent did your studies / doctorate prepare you for your current job?

Even if I no longer rely heavily on chemical textbook knowledge in my everyday work, my technical background helps me better evaluate projects and chances of success in many situations. From my point of view, it is the combination of studies and previous professional experience that helps me in my current tasks. The course conveys concepts and promotes critical thinking skills and self-drive. In addition, you gain your first international experience in semesters abroad and, as a supervisor at the latest during your doctorate, you also acquire your first managerial skills. After starting your career, you will be transferred to the practice.

Many things in the job may seem obsolete at first, but the course lays the foundations for a successful career both professionally and personally: Those who master the chemistry course can confidently tackle the hurdles in their job.

What do you love about your work? Are there any special challenges?

I can get involved at Covestro in a variety of ways every day. My tasks range from exchanging ideas with customers to project management and strategy development. This variety of content and perspectives inspires me. Challenges also crop up again and again, for example in project management in "virtual teams" - that is, when you control projects mostly by email and video conference because of the large distances involved. In general, it is becoming more and more important to manage complexity and uncertainty. Reacting flexibly to market needs and at the same time promoting innovations in a structured manner - that can also be tricky. In my experience, however, any hurdle can be overcome with the input of my colleagues and a good dose of enthusiasm.

What are career opportunities in your professional field?

From research I have meanwhile moved into "Business Development", i.e. business development. However, this change is only one of many possible paths. As a researcher, you can also orientate yourself towards an expert career or develop yourself from R&D into other functions such as Marketing, sales or product safety. For me, this is one of the great advantages of working for a large company like Covestro: You can find development prospects in Management, as a project manager or as an expert under one roof. Often there are several candidates for a particular job -

That is why it is important to continue training after starting your career, to reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses and to discuss them with your line manager.

If someone wants to pursue the same career path, what would you advise them to do?

No career can be planned down to the last detail.

I would recommend you to always take the "middle path". This means that, on the one hand, you actively deal with your goals and your expectations and, already during your studies, dare to look in the mirror: What do you want to achieve and what do you have to do to achieve it? On the other hand, it is also important to be open to possibilities that may arise spontaneously. Remain flexible and get advice when you are faced with important decisions - use mentoring programs such as B. CheMento (Editor's note: CheMento is the GDCh's mentoring program for professional orientation). Ultimately: Have fun studying and working in chemistry. For me, work and life have never been two opposites. Those who work always learn from and with others. To be able to pass on what you have learned is a great privilege. Learn and Enjoy!

Note: For reasons of readability, the simultaneous use of gender-specific language forms is not used. All personal names apply to all genders.

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last modified: 10.05.2021 15:09 H from