Christian Chemaly

Name, Surname: Chemaly, Christian
Nationality: Lebanon
City, Country: New York, USA
Studyprogram: Informations- und Medientechnologie
Employer: independent

"I love developing a new product!"

Why did you decide to study at the TU Hamburg?
I had visited four universities to choose from: Berlin, Stuttgart, Offenburg and Hamburg. I really liked the TU campus and felt that it was more than just buildings and rooms in total. The atmosphere was very different from the other places. It is also very close to downtown Hamburg, which allowed me to study and have a social life at the same time.

Did the choice of degree program also play a role?
I had studied computer engineering in my bachelor's degree, and although I liked the technical aspects, I wanted to focus on media and how technology is used to reach people and make a difference.

What do you use from your studies in your work?
The "Human-Machine Interface" lecture was an eye-opener for me. It formed the foundation for my knowledge on user experience and how to develop a product. Funnily enough, International Law and Accounting also proved very useful, as I now run my own business. However, the course was in German and it was very hard for me to follow.

What skills should you have as a founder?
You should not be afraid to take action in your own company. There is no job description to follow and no task to shy away from. However, if you love what you do, there is a risk that you won't stop to think about the product and the company. It's therefore very easy to lose your work-life balance and burn out. That's why I'd like to have the ability to be more organized.

What's the greatest thing about your job?
As a founder and company owner, I can choose which projects I work on and which people I work with. That makes me happy, no matter how many fires I've had to put out. As a product manager, I love developing and designing a new product. Identifying challenges and finding solutions is my definition of an engineer.

Was there an unforgettable experience during your time at TU Hamburg?
Very many! If I had to choose one, it would be my moderation of the 2017 freshman welcome. It was impressive to have the full Audimax in front of me. I wanted to make a good impression on all students. Among other things, I was supposed to introduce an international team that played Anklung, an Indonesian instrument. At the last minute, it turned out that it was an all-German team, so I had to change the introduction on the spur of the moment and gave it in German - and in a way that kept it funny and interesting, and without grammatical errors in front of the predominantly German-speaking audience.

Did you sometimes let that stop you from learning?
That did happen. Playing foosball in the dorm, for example. I wanted to make the most of my time in Hamburg, and since I was enrolled at the Technical University of Hamburg, I was also allowed to attend courses at the University of Hamburg, where I took media business and media law. That's how I ended up meeting Helmut Schmidt.

You've been living in New York for eight years now. What appeals to you about the city and is there anything you miss about Germany?
On the one hand, I love the opportunities I have in New York, both professionally and culturally. At the same time, I never have enough time for it. It's a very work-centric culture. I can't compare it to my student days, but I would love to drink mulled wine and eat kale with sausage sometimes. Every now and then I sing "I want to go back to Westerland!".

I'd like to swap places for a day with ...
... a spaceman. Then I could spend the day in space and look at the earth from above. The cosmos has always fascinated me.

What would you ask an omniscient explorer from the future?
I would first like to see if he passes the Turing test. That's supposed to find out whether you're looking at a machine or a human being. I wonder to what extent we will lose our humanity in the future.

If you were president of the Technical University of Hamburg ...
... I would place my term of office under the theme of the future. I would work to build an efficient alumni network that fits in with the values and principles of the university. I would also focus more on preparing students for the transition from university to professional life. For many, the ability to find a job after graduation is a critical factor in choosing a university.

Sie engagieren sich seit Jahren als Chapter-President in New York und werden nun noch einer von zehn Alumni-Botschaftern in den USA. Was ist Ihre Motivation für Ihr Engagement?
Es heißt: Wie man in den Wald hineinruft, so schallt es heraus. Ich bin in meinem Leben von vielen Menschen unterstützt worden und ich möchte dasselbe tun, wann immer ich kann. Einige meiner besten Beziehungen habe ich während meiner Zeit in Hamburg geknüpft. Dieses Netzwerk erstreckt sich mittlerweile über die ganze Welt. Es sind immer Menschen, bei denen ich mir Rat hole oder mit denen ich manchmal einfach nur spreche, um mein Deutsch aufzufrischen.

You have been involved as chapter president in New York for years and are now becoming one of ten alumni ambassadors in the USA. What is your motivation for your commitment?
It is said that what goes around comes around. I've been supported by many people in my life, and I want to do the same whenever I can. I made some of my best relationships during my time in Hamburg. This network now stretches all over the world. There are always people I go to for advice or sometimes just talk to in order to brush up on my German.