• Learning from Leaders: Reinhard Ploss

    Executive & Professional Education

    Dr. Reinhard Ploss at "Learning from Leaders" event series: "Don't build on yesterday's success models, use technology for continuous progress"

    How important it is as a leader to think ahead, stay curious and anticipate new technologies for oneself and one's company became clear in the third session of the digital event series "Learning from Leaders". Dr. Reinhard Ploss, CEO of semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies, addressed the importance of technology in the context of leadership and lifelong learning - in conversation with Prof. Claudia Peus, Founding Director of the TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning.

    Always wanting to know what will happen next and thinking ahead – these aspects are particularly important to Dr. Reinhard Ploss when it comes to dealing with fundamental technological innovations. The CEO of Infineon Technologies shared his insights on the role of these technologies in the context of lifelong learning. The TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning welcomed him as the third and last guest in the "Learning from Leaders" series, as part of the TUM Learning Festival 2021.

    Don't build on yesterday's success models

    Dr. Ploss cited the car and the mobile telephone, as examples of technologies that brought about unexpected, groundbreaking changes and permanently transformed the economy and society. In his view, this shows how important it is for leaders not to build on yesterday's models of success, but to be prepared for constant change. He encouraged his audience not to wait until they could no longer afford or implement modern technologies or their use in the company. Instead, he said, one should not be afraid to try completely new things.

    Keep changing your perspective

    "This agility is usually more difficult for managers with routine work than for young engineers," Ploss explained. He speaks from experience: the current CEO has been working for Infineon since 1986, and has been leading the company as CEO for the last nine years. To overcome hurdles on the way to success, he recommends regularly looking at what is happening within one's own company from a different angle –"as if you were looking down from the Zugspitze at developments within the world”. In Reinhard Ploss' view, it is very important to get experts within your organization to communicate in an understandable way – thus enabling decision-making and aid leaders in choosing the direction the company should take.

    Opening up space for ideas and mistakes

    Looking to the future, Reinhard Ploss agreed with Prof. Claudia Peus, Founding Director of the TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning, that one should value the fact that one cannot know everything that will happen. From the point of view of the two panelists, the most important thing is to ask as many questions as possible and to open up free spaces within a company. In it, promising ideas should emerge, but mistakes should also be allowed to be made. "That's part of lifelong learning. But we can also harness new technologies, like virtual reality, so that things can be tested without errors having serious consequences," said Prof. Dr. Peus.

    To find out more about the key insights of the first two sessions, click here for the topic "Leadership & Values" and here for the topic “Leadership & Human Needs”