Alumni-Porträt: Kai Kiehn

Name, first name: Kiehn, Kai
Nationality: German
City, country: Hamburg, Germany
Course of Study/Degree: Industrial Engineering, Diploma
Year of graduation: 2003
Employer, position: Deutsche GigaNetz GmbH, Strategic Project Manager

Mr. Kiehn, what motivated you to choose the TUHH and this field of study?
Actually, I wanted to become a pilot. But that didn't work out. Since I had previously completed a banking apprenticeship and then the Abitur on the second educational path at a business high school, I first began to study business administration. That was more a logical decision than a passionate one. However, I didn't really feel comfortable there and thought about how I could change that.  I knew some industrial engineering students, got excited about the program and finally decided to change. At the time, the program was offered across universities with the University of Hamburg, HAW and TU Hamburg.

One degree program at three universities, that sounds complicated?
Studying at one university is already a challenge. Finding one's way around the structures of three universities and maintaining an overview even in the face of reforms was an even bigger challenge. That's why networking with each other was very important and united us all. This is not only how my enthusiasm for alumni networks came about, it has also had a significant impact on my professional life. The advantage of this study program: You get to know three very different universities, whereby the TU was always my favorite. And not just because it has a much nicer campus.

What happened after your studies and what are you doing now?
Due to my educational background and a parallel self-employment, I was already a bit older than the others at that time and therefore wanted to get started quickly. After a brief start in a management consultancy, I initially continued my self-employment. Eventually, I landed at Airbus and came close again to my original career aspiration of having something to do with aircraft. After a few more stations, I have been at Deutsche GigaNetz GmbH since November 2021. This is a very young company that is expanding the fiber optic network in Germany. I started as a project and portfolio manager. Last year, I then became a central part of our strategy project to secure the company's growth and the expansion of the fiber optic network. My main task was to support all operational processes and to help where things go wrong. This year, it's round two for me as we aim to grow significantly and be one of the top 3 players in the fiber optic market in 5 years.

What's the best thing about your job?
I like the fact that I get to build something new here right from the start and don't have to fit into existing structures. I can bring all my experience to bear here, shape the company, create new structures and experience the creation of a large company in fast motion. It's almost a research project with déjà vu character.

From today's perspective, what do you miss about the training at the TU Hamburg, what would you place more value on?
If I understand a course of study as a kind of training that is supposed to prepare students for practice, then I would certainly think of a few things, such as networking, building up leadership skills and strengthening joint projects with industry and business. However, I see the university much more as an educational and research institution that also offers academic training. In this respect, I am very satisfied and grateful for our education system in Germany. What I don't think is successful is the schooling at universities that has come about as a result of the Bologna reform. In my opinion, this means that you no longer have enough time to deal with a subject in depth or to get involved socially or otherwise on the side. However, I think that having the time and the opportunity to think outside the box is very important for the personal maturation of a student and thus for society.

I would love to trade places for a day with ...
... the American president, to be able to look behind the scenes. I am curious and interested in what the world is really like. That includes the mystery of Area 51.

What would you ask an omniscient scientist from the future?
Is humanity overcoming its "adolescent" phase, in which everything is oriented toward money, or is a maturing phase occurring? What can we achieve technically without this restriction and what would a society look like then? Would we be more satisfied?

If you were president of the TU Hamburg...
... I would try to make TU Hamburg and the city so well known worldwide that everyone would want to come here. I would promote the topics of innovation and technology particularly strongly and take a leap across the Elbe.