One Young World Summit
Sustainability 06.09.2022 7 Min.
“We have to dare to initiate something to really get things moving.”

Visionary talents are shaping the transformation of society and companies – which is why the BMW Group is a partner of the One Young World Summit, an international congress for young leaders that will take place in England in September 2022.

Something didn’t feel quite right about removing high-voltage batteries from prototypes after only a short development phase and simply disposing of them. The used batteries are professionally recycled, but Jacob Hamar, a doctoral student at the BMW Group and delegate at One Young World 2021, was convinced that they could still be put to good use elsewhere. So he implemented his idea together with other One Young World participants: at the end of this year, a powerful block of six high-voltage batteries will go into operation at a school in Rosslyn, South Africa, near the BMW Group plant. They store solar energy generated from the photovoltaic system and supply the school with enough electricity for its daily needs – a pilot project setting an example for others. These are the very kind of creative ideas and visionary solutions from young talent that the BMW Group is seeking out and encouraging.

“We want employees and managers who are committed, have visions, create an impact within the company and also help shape our society with their sustainability activities,” says Ilka Horstmeier, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Human Resources and Real Estate, Labour Relations Director. The BMW Group’s 360-degree sustainability approach not only encompasses the entire value chain from resource extraction to production and recycling, but also ecological, economic and social aspects. Ilka Horstmeier sees securing jobs as just as much a part of this as providing employees with future-proof continued training.

A new generation of creative leaders is needed to be able to achieve all these goals; leaders who can make critical decisions as well as carry them through. “Transformation is a growth accelerator for us. We consciously decided to put our employees at the heart of the transformation process,” says Ilka Horstmeier. Mentoring, inspiration and investment empower the young talents to energetically tackle the key challenges. That is why the BMW Group offers special support on “Sustainability and Leadership” – including a talent development format as part of its cooperation with One Young World (OYW). The BMW Group has been a partner of the OYW Summit since 2016.

One Young World’s mission is to discover, nurture and connect emerging leaders around the world. OYW has a large network of ambassadors from over 190 countries and provides a platform for talents from business, NGOs and science to think more deeply about education, climate and environmental protection and social projects and to launch solutions for social challenges. Leading companies across all industries are now integrating OYW into their global strategies to nurture and attract talent and drive new ideas within their organisations.

Road to Manchester with talks and workshops.

The 2022 summit will take place in Manchester, England, in early September. Over four days, delegates from all over the world will discuss current challenges such as conflict prevention, global gender justice, clean oceans, responsible leadership and health. The BMW Group is represented by 52 delegates from around the world this year. They have been on the “Road to Manchester” for the Congress ever since March, and discussed the summit topics in an extensive programme. The focus is on responsible leadership and working environments, with exercises on communication and finding solutions. International small groups worked in interdisciplinary units to find answers to these questions, among others: How can I drive change myself? How do I become a leader in terms of sustainability? In the process, experts empowered and encouraged BMW Group delegates to adopt new perspectives and push their ideas forward.

Everyone can make a difference.

Courage and commitment are essential to bring about change, as Sabrina Kolbeck, a business economist in corporate controlling, knows full well: “We have to dare to initiate something that really gets things moving.” Together with Jacob Hamar, who now works permanently for the BMW Group, she initially researched the further use of high-voltage batteries from former development vehicles as part of the BMW Group’s internal Accelerator programme focusing on “Innovation for Impact”. The aim was to provide social institutions with secure access to energy, especially renewable energy. For example, schools also need to become independent of fossil fuels. In 2019, she founded “PowerUp – Empowering Social Mobility”. Her project was not a foregone conclusion, says Jacob Hamar: “Sometimes it’s not the idea that’s the problem. It’s the timing. If you are persistent and believe in your goal, the right moment will come at some point. You meet the right people – and then it works out.” Sabrina Kolbeck and Jacob Hamar were both BMW Group delegates at the OYW Summit 2021. This year they will be in Manchester as ambassadors. Her call to action for the other Young Leaders: “You see, everyone can make a difference. And OYW can be the spark for initiatives like this.”

Jacob Hamar und Sabrina Kolbeck

BMW Group delegates at the One Young World Summit of 2021, ambassadors in Manchester this year - Jacob Hamar and Sabrina Kolbeck.

According to Ilka Horstmeier, the company’s selection process for delegates is aimed at ambitious young professionals who are interested in firm solutions and want to change their world for the better in the long term. The HR director said: “I am always impressed when I meet our participants at the One Young World Summit. Their enthusiasm and commitment are truly catching. It is precisely this spirit that they also carry into our company, that ignites the spark in many places to drive forward a sustainable transformation of the BMW Group.” Since the partnership began, more than 200 BMW Group Ambassadors have taken part in the development programme for young leaders. The preliminary highlight of the collaboration was last year’s summit in Munich, home of the BMW Group.

The BMW Group accompanies all its young talent in their personal development process, encourages them to develop an overall entrepreneurial outlook and supports them in building personal networks. They are to become the visionary and committed leaders who will form the foundation for successful collaborations within a future-oriented BMW Group and make an active contribution to tangible corporate commitment. The BMW Group needs such a new generation of responsible leaders, who are equal to the global challenges of the present, to create a successful future. It takes people who are truly passionate about what they do to shape the company towards electro mobility, digitalisation and circularity and lead it through one of the biggest transformations in the history of the automotive industry.

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