Culture and Industry: A German Perspective
Culture and Industry: A German Perspective

» Culture and Industry: A German Perspective

Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Chapman University presents, Culture and Industry – A German Perspective on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 12 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. in Beckman Hall 404.

Programming and activities scheduled for this day include highlighting the culture of Germany as well as what is referred to as the German industrial model: innovative industrial relations, vocational training, and closer relationships between the financial and industrial sectors to cultivate economic prosperity.

German FlagWilkinson College is home to the Department of World Languages and Culture, the Masters in International Studies, Department of Art as well as Communication Studies with experts in the field of international communications and serves as an international hub for Chapman University. In partnership with German companies including BSH Home Appliances, Mercedes Benz, BMW and Siemens to name a few, the college has developed a day in which Presidents and CEOs as well as innovative German and German-American professionals will engage in lively discussion with students on a variety of themes including design, language, environmental industry, international corporate and cultural relations. 

Professional leaders of major German corporations bring vast experience working internationally - combined with their organizations commitment to culture and art - will make a major impact on the conversation. These leaders will address Chapman University students as well as members of our young alumni and the surrounding community. We look forward to hearing how different companies approach art, philosophy, culture and business. The speakers will also share information about each of their organization's history, their corporate culture, the importance of learning multiple languages as well as a few examples of how an international, multicultural major corporation operates in multiple countries around the globe.  

This day will serve as the first of many of its kind, which will create an ongoing dialogue on a global scale. Germany’s current position in the European Union as the very anchor of such a huge economy is the ideal country in which to focus for the launch of this new annual endeavor. The summit has two main themes: The Global Picture: Politics, Communication and Sustainability as well as Art and Culture.


Please RSVP with Janae Hightower at The first 70 students to RSVP will be able to have lunch with a speaker. You must include your 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice speaker in your RSVP. Participants will receive an RSVP confirmation but will be assigned to their speakers table when they check in at the event.


On the day of the event, check out to follow all the live tweets coming out of this event!

Event Sponsor


This event is free and open to the public.

Chapman's Argyros School of Business is a supporter of this event.

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Keynote Speaker: Hartmut Esslinger

Hartmut EsslingerHartmut Esslinger was born in Beuren (Simmersfeld), in Germany's Black Forest.[1] At age 25, Esslinger finished his studies at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd in Schwäbisch Gmünd. After vicious criticism of a radio clock he designed while in school, he started his own design agency in 1969, later renamed Frogdesign. For his first client, German avant-garde consumer electronics company Wega, he created the first "full plastics" color TV and HiFi series "Wega system 3000". His work for Wega won him instant international fame.[citation needed] In 1974, Esslinger was hired by Sony - Sony also acquired Wega shortly after - and he was instrumental in creating a global design image for Sony, especially with the Sony Trinitron and personal music products. The Sony-Wega Music System Concept 51K was chosen by the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

As of 1976, Esslinger also worked for Louis Vuitton.

In 1982 he entered into an exclusive $1,000,000 per year contract with Apple Computer to create a design strategy which transformed Apple from a "Silicon Valley Start-Up" into a global brand. Setting up shop in California for the first time, Esslinger and Frogdesign created the "Snow White design language" which was applied to all Apple product lines from 1984 to 1990, commencing with the Apple IIc and including the Macintosh computer.[2] The original Apple IIc was acquired by the Whitney Museum of Art in New York and Time voted it Design of the Year. Soon after Steve Jobs' departure, Esslinger broke his own contract with Apple and followed Jobs to NeXT.

Other major client engagements include Lufthansa's global design and brand strategy, SAP's corporate identity and software user interface, Microsoft Windows branding and user interface design, Siemens, NEC, Olympus, HP, Motorola and General Electric.

In December 1990 Esslinger was featured on the cover of BusinessWeek the only living designer thus honored since Raymond Loewy in 1934. Esslinger is a founding Professor of the Hochschule fuer Gestaltung in Karlsruhe, Germany and since 2006 he is a Professor for convergent industrial design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria. In 1996, Esslinger was awarded an honorary doctorate of Fine Arts by the Parsons School of Design, New York.

In 2009 Esslinger published A Fine Line in which he explores business solutions that are environmentally sustainable and contribute to an enduring global economy. In recent years, Frogdesign has survived two acquisitions. In 2006 it was purchased by Flextronics. Soon afterwards it was purchased by the leveraged buyout firm KKR as part of a group several of Flextronics units and packaged into a software company called Aricent. Esslinger is a DeTao Master of Industrial Design with The Beijing DeTao Masters Academy (DTMA) in Shanghai, China.

How I Taught Steve Jobs to Put Design First
By Hartmut Esslinger

Hartmut Esslinger's Early Apple Computer and Tablet Designs

5 lessons in design from Hartmut Esslinger


Wolfram DoelkerWolfram Doelker Co-founder of GABA’s Southern California Chapter. Served as Treasurer until 2012, Chairman since 2013. With 25 years experience in taking businesses global, his consulting and project management practice focuses on globalization and market entry in the US and Europe. Services include business presence, market entry, start-up and project management, as well as temporary CEO, COO, CFO and business services. Prior to founding WDE in 1998, he managed the successful globalization of a European based company from an $80 Mio business in 4 countries to a $400 Mio business in 19 countries. For 8 years based out of Europe and 7 years out of the US, he negotiated and successfully integrated over 20 acquisitions, started businesses from scratch, negotiated joint ventures, developed licensing and franchise programs and managed business units in Europe, Asia and North America. As a certified banker, he started his career in banking and finance in Stuttgart, Germany and Chicago, IL. A graduate in Business Economics of the University of Saarbruecken, Germany, he earned his MBA from Union Graduate College in Schenectady, New York. He served and serves on a number of corporate boards of US subsidiaries, as Chairman of an Industry Association of Plastic Manufacturers in Germany, the Board of German American Schools, the International Advisory Council of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation and the German American Business Association of Southern California.

Dr. Bernd Fischer holds a Doctorate in Philosophy from Heidelberg University and most recently served as German Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia and has been head of the German Consulate General in Los Angeles since July 10, 2012. He served in the military (1969-1971), was a Fulbright fellow at the University of Arizona (1973-1974) and served in the German Embassy in Tokyo from 1980 to 1983. Dr. Fischer served as a permanent mission of Germany to the United Nations in New York, disarmament and international security (1985-1988) and participated in the Vienna Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe 1988-89. Among his many positions, Dr. Fischer was the head of the economic department, German Embassy in Washington D.C.(2001-2005), Deputy Ambassador, German Embassy in Tokyo in 2005-2008. Born 1950 in Kaiserslautern, Dr. Fischer is married to Jutta Fischer and has two grown children.

Petra KornPetra Korn is an attorney admitted to practice both in Germany and in California. Petra has gained experience in media and entertainment law and transactions in Cologne and Berlin, Germany, and also in domestic and international corporate law and litigation through working for a prestigious law firm in Los Angeles. Petra has enjoyed having her own practice since November 2009 ( Petra advises domestic and international clients on transactional matters mainly in the fields of International Law, German Law, Corporate and Business Law, and Intellectual Property Law. Petra also assists her clients in obtaining dual citizenship or re-gaining (German) citizenship. Petra has the unique ability to advise clients on German and California law. Being able to explain the legal procedures either under German law or California law to the client in the native language is a big comforting factor to many of Petra's clients. Petra's background and education has focused on Media Law, International Business Cartels, Unfair Competition, and Copyright Law. Petra furthered her studies in Media and European Law at the Administrative College in Speyer.

RhoadesChristopher Rhoades currently holds the position as Chief Designer and Senior Design Manager in the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center in Carlsbad, California. He is a graduate of the University of Washington, Seattle, where he earned a BFA, Industrial Design. Upon graduation, he continued his studies by attending Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. After a brief internship with GM Design, Warren, Michigan, Chris graduated with honors earning a BS Transportation Design degree in 1987. That same year, Mr. Rhoades accepted a position to be one of the two founding Automotive Designers in the newly formed Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studio, Germany. He worked for 11 years in Germany on various show car and production vehicle programs. In 1998, Christopher Rhoades accepted an offer to transfer to Daimler Trucks of North America to work as Senior Designer and Project Manager in the Freightliner commercial truck division located in Portland, Oregon. In these 6 years at Daimler Trucks, he was successful at contributing to both the exterior, as well as, the interior design for a number of production commercial vehicles. Most notably is the current Cascadia truck family where he was responsible for both the exterior and interior dashboard. In 2004, Chris was appointed to Chief Designer and Assistant Manager in the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of North America studio located first in Irvine California, then relocated to Carlsbad in 2008. He has led teams of designers and clay modelers on various concept cars, as well as production vehicles. His current responsibilities include; Design, Project and Personnel Management, as well as, General Studio Operations. Apart from his extensive 27 years working as an Automotive Designer with Mercedes- Benz, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Angelika and two daughters. He holds a private pilot’s license and is fluent in German.

Daniela Daniela Treptow is the International/Market Communications Analyst at Euro VAT Refund, Inc., a leading U.S. financial services firm, specializing in assisting North American companies with Value Added Tax (VAT) refund collection, VAT registration and management when conducting business in the European Union. Her responsibilities include marketing, communication with European embassies, consulates, trade and investment agencies, as well as U.S. companies who are involved in trade with the European Union. She is on the board of the German American Business Association (GABA) of Southern California, and it’s Director of Seminars and Stammtisch. Daniela is also an active member of various other international organizations and associations, including the British American Business Council (BABC), Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the Swedish Women’s Educational Association (SWEA), and the Valley International Trade Association (VITA). Daniela earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Intercultural Communications from Pepperdine University, Malibu, California. She previously worked for Lufthansa and Thai Airways and holds an Airline Travel Certificate. Born and raised in Sweden by German parents, she is fluent in Swedish and German.



Phillipp WalterPhilipp Walter is a Senior Vice President at Bosch and Siemens Home Appliances in Irvine. Mr. Walter has been responsible for product development, manufacturing and marketing of dishwashers in North America since 2010. The products are sold under brands like Bosch, Thermador and Gaggenau. From 1994-2000 Mr. Walter worked as a product manager at Rowenta Werke with several stays in Boston USA, Warzawa, Poland and Offenbach, Germany. After joining BSH in 2000 he worked in various sales and marketing positions. He started as a national account sales manager for the Siemens brand and was promoted to the head of the international marketing  team for vacuum cleaners and irons after 3 years. In this time he developed more than 20 new products.  Several products have received design awards and were recognized globally by the consumer test institute for outstanding performance. In his role he worked closely with all European countries, as well as with factory sites in Germany, Spain and China. Mr. Walter earned his degree in International Marketing from the University (Berufsakademie) Mannheim.

Moderator and Event Chair

Uwe Siemon-NettoMODERATOR: Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto, an international journalist from Leipzig, Germany, has reported about major world events for 57 years, including the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and, over a period of five years, the Vietnam War. At age 50 he interrupted his career as reporter to earn an M.A. at a Lutheran seminary in Chicago and a doctorate in theology and sociology of religion at Boston University. As part of his theological studies he served as a chaplain to Vietnam veterans. He is the founder of the Center for Lutheran Theology and Public Life /League of Faithful Masks (CLTPL/LFM) in Capistrano Beach, Cal., an institute positing the Lutheran doctrine of vocation as an antidote against the contemporary culture of narcissism. The doctrine states that Christians render the highest service to God by serving their neighbor out of love in all their secular endeavors. CLTPL/LFM started the series of annual German Day events, which have evolved into the present summit, Culture and Industry – a German Perspective at Wilkinson College, Chapman University. Dr. Siemon-Netto has authored numerous articles and books. His memoir, Triumph of the Absurd: A reporter’s love for the abandoned people of Vietnam, was published this year simultaneously in English, German and Vietnamese. Dr. Siemon-Netto now lives in southern California as a writer and educator. Part of the year he and his British-born wife, Gillian, spend at their home in southwestern France.

Michael TraubEVENT CHAIR: Mr. Michael Traub is president and chief executive officer of BSH Home Appliances. In this role, Mr. Traub is responsible for driving the company’s growth and managing business operations in North America. He was appointed CEO in 2008, leading the successful turnaround of the organization’s home appliance brands resulting in award-winning products and increased market share. Today, the BSH Gaggenau, Thermador and Bosch brands are industry benchmarks in premium, luxury and elite home appliances. Mr. Traub also serves as a member of the board of directors for BSH in the United States and chairman of the board in Canada. A seasoned leader within the BSH international family of companies, Mr. Traub began his career with BSH in 1997 serving as regional financial controller for BSH Bosch und Siemens Home Appliances Group in Asia. Mr. Traub was quickly promoted to managing director in 1999 and after many successful years in Singapore, he moved back to Germany in 2001 to assume the role of commercial director of the German subsidiary. After one year in this role, Mr. Traub was promoted to oversee business development for the Americas and China. Mr. Traub’s successful tenure in international markets paved the path for his next achievement as president and CEO of Latin America based in Sao Paulo, Brazil from 2004 to 2008. During this period, he strategically restructured the organization’s sales and industrial footprint. Prior to joining BSH, Mr. Traub held various management positions at the Robert Bosch Group in Germany and Singapore from 1993 until 1996. Mr. Traub is a member of the board of directors for the German American Chamber of Commerce in New York and serves an active role in helping to foster the economic ties between Germany and America. Mr. Traub is a graduate of the University of Hohenheim with a Bachelor of Science degree in international management and economics. He is based in the BSH U.S. headquarters in Irvine, CA.

Event Schedule





Registration & General Session: Speaker Panel

Beckman 404    


Networking Lunch – assigned seats (must RSVP)

Beckman 404     

(List your preference of seating with speakers in order of 1st, 2nd or 3rd choice)

1:35 – 2:35p.m.

Break-out Session

Daniela Treptow, International/Market Communications Analyst at Euro VAT Refund, Inc.

Beckman 401      

Christopher Rhoades, Chief Designer and Senior Design Manager, Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center

Beckman 404       


Break-out Session

Petra Korn, Primary Attorney at German American Lawyer

Beckman 401

Michael Traub, President and CEO of BSH Home Appliances

Beckman 404        


Break-out Session

Wolfram Doelker, Executive Team Member at Beckett Advisors, Chairman of the German American Business Association, Southern CA     

Beckman 401



Hartmut Esslinger, Founder of Frogdesign, DeTao Master of Industrial Design with The Beijing DeTao Masters Academy

Beckman 404         


Networking Reception

Beckman 404          

Contact Us!

Janae Hightower