“A global

pandemic calls

for global


COVID-19 has placed the world before enormous challenges. Weeks of standstill are now followed by a palpable optimistic mood paired with calls for social, cultural and economic changes. WERTE has asked seven personalities how they have experienced this time and where they believe the biggest challenges for the future lie.

Text: Barbara Friedrich, Martin Häusler

Illustrations: Karin Kellner

Unity makes us

strong, division

makes us weak


Martin Schulz

Martin Schulz

His entire life, Martin Schulz has been working towards creating unity in Europe. So it’s no wonder that the politician and long- standing President of the EU Parliament demands more European solidarity with Italy, Spain and Greece as a consequence of the coronavirus crisis.

What is the

main conclusion

that we need

to draw from the

coronavirus crisis?

What can we

do to initiate

real change and

to not fall back

into old patterns?

What did the

coronavirus crisis

teach me about

myself and the

political system?

That unity makes us strong and division makes us weak. That has become clear on both a European and a national level. If

in difficult times like these, the people stand together across party lines, then a crisis like this one is easier to manage than if separatist forces gain the upper hand. This can also be seen when comparing countries such as Germany, France, Italy and Spain with countries such as the UK, the US and Brazil.

In future, in a crisis like this one, we will have to do three things: Firstly, to inter- nalise the fact that those affected the most require the most solidarity. In this case, that would be Italy, Spain and Greece.

Secondly, we need to accept the fact that the strong state is not just the invention

of a few old-fashioned people. The coun- tries that have focussed on their medical and administrative infrastructure are bet- ter able to offer support in times of crisis than the ones who have cut down on in- frastructure. Thirdly, a global pandemic calls for global answers. This is why we need to strengthen international organisa- tions such as the EU, the UN and the WHO. International research cooperations are just as important as clarity regarding fair distribution mechanisms of vaccines and medication.

The political system of the Federal Republic of Germany has proven its worth. The fed- eral state, which at first glance may appear to have too many voices, is advantageous on closer inspection because it allows deci- sion-making on a more local level than is possible in centralised states. About myself I have learned that I am, like so many oth- ers, a social being. Isolation can be endured for a certain time, but in the long term, people need other people to be happy.

Digitalisation plays an essential role in a company’s survival nowadays

Nerio Alessandri


Technogym is an Italian manufacturer of exclusive fitness equipment. The company was founded in 1983 by Nerio Alessandri and has been an official supplier of the Olympic Games since 2000, including Athens 2004, Turin 2006, Beijing 2008 and London 2012. The entrepreneur mainly sees effects on the healthcare industry.

What is

the most

important implication

to be learned

from the

coronavirus crisis?

How did the

pandemic affect your business? What did the lockdown teach you about yourself – and about

your company?

Do you think people could be able to create a new, more sustainable world after the coronavirus crisis? And what should be done to realise that change?

Both in business and personal life, I believe that the main implication of the state of emergency we have been living in the last few month has been the acceleration of the digital. With no doubt, the emergency has strongly accelerated the digital revolution in all sectors, including fitness: in just five weeks, we have made a five-year leap in terms of innovation. The lockdown, in gen- eral, has taught people to use their favorite products and services in different ways and in different places: from the explosion of

e-commerce, to delivery services that not only include products but real experiences, to events and remote communication ac- tivities. In many different industries, be- fore the COVID-19 crisis, offering digital products or services represented a compet- itive advantage, while today, in many cases, being digital is a precondition for survival. I believe we will meet again, we will travel again and we will go back to physical life, but during the crisis the digital has cer- tainly played an important role in our lives, and that will not be lost.

Talking about our business – fitness, well- ness, sport and health – the pandemic

has certainly boosted the demand for home products and services. On the one hand, Technogym is able to offer a full range of home products and bespoke solutions – like our brand new Technogym Bike, which offers the possibility to join on-demand spinning classes from the console led by various international celebrity trainers – and on the other hand, thanks to our unique digital platform, we have been sup- porting fitness clubs offering their services to their members at home during lock- down. In a nutshell, the future of fitness

is not about working out two times a week, but about being able to connect to your personalised training programme anytime and anywhere: at the gym, at home, at

hotels when travelling, at work within your corporate wellness center and outdoors thanks to our apps.

What we have experienced in the past few months has taught us a lot from various standpoints. First of all, health has risen

to the top of the list of people's priorities, and exercising regularly means being in better shape, healthier and more energetic. After months of forced sedentary life and the resulting health damage, people crave to return to exercise, that’s why we see a great potential for fitness and wellness go- ing forward.

For me, the

coronavirus crisis

has shed light

on the weaknesses

in the system

Düzen Tekkal


The German human rights activist Düzen Tekkal has been a member of the federal government’s expert committee for the causes of flight. In her opinion, the lockdown has once again demonstrated the importance of investments in digital education and the healthcare system.

What is the

main conclusion

that we

need to draw

from the

coronavirus crisis?

Do you think humanity

is capable of building

a different, new and more sustainable world in

the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic?

What has the

coronavirus crisis

taught me

about myself

and my


For me, the coronavirus crisis sheds light on the weaknesses in the system. If we take a look at hospital staff, care for the elderly and the digitalisation of schools, for years, resources were saved or not supplied to

the full extent. This shows that we have strongly neglected this whole area of care work in our society!

Yes. The crisis has made many people aware of the fact that people are affected by the crisis to different extents, depend- ing on their social class, gender, age and state of health. Of course, there will always be ignorant people. But I think those of

us who see the big picture will look with even sharper eyes in the future.

I have learnt that it can be really exhaust- ing suddenly having to rely on oneself when the overall situation becomes inse- cure. But also that it helps to have a

task one can almost fully apply oneself

to despite the coronavirus regulations – which is also a privilege that not everyone has! Regarding us as an organisation, I have learnt that we are very resilient, sim- ply because all our employee are extremely motivated – and also step into the breech

if someone else is in a situation where they can’t give it their all. That is really worth

a lot!

If we all pull together, we can even get through unforeseeable crises such as this one

Karl von Rohr

Karl von Rohr

Karl von Rohr is President of Deutsche Bank and the father of four children. In his opinion, Deutsche Bank is on the right track to mastering crises like this pandemic – in terms of personnel structure, technical equipment and strategy.

What is the

main conclusion

that we

need to draw

from the

coronavirus crisis?

Do you think humanity

is capable of building

a different, new and more sustainable world

in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic?

What has the

coronavirus crisis

taught you

about yourself

and about

Deutsche Bank?


That there will always be circumstances that we can’t change. But we can always

try to make the best of the situation. The coronavirus pandemic was unlike any other

crisis we have known in the past. But we quickly adapted to it – that applies to our company as a whole, to our employees and to our clients. We have done everything we can to stay very close to our clients and of- fer them support in this difficult time. It worked because we all did our best. We also saw the importance of clear and decisive action, as was demonstrated by our federal government. We are strong as a team – that is true for Deutsche Bank, but also for Germany and for Europe. If we all pull to- gether, we can even get through unforesee- able crises such as this one.

Yes, I believe that to be possible. The coro- navirus crisis has demonstrated that we can make do with less and that our profes- sional world can work differently. We had to make sacrifices, consumed less, worked differently – and it worked. I’m even con- vinced that we’ll be able to maintain many of these things in the long term. That ap- plies for example to working remotely from home, which many people were rather sceptical towards in the past. The last few weeks and months have demonstrated how well it works. We travelled less for work, and more often than not, videoconferences were in fact enough. This way, we were able to make a contribution towards more sus- tainability. Of course, a lot of things have to and will go back to “normal”.

Deutsche Bank and its employees are cri- sis-proven. Our handling of the coron- avirus pandemic vividly demonstrated that once again. Across all functions and units, our employees did an incredible job. The crisis has also demonstrated that we are

on the right track with our strategy which we adapted last year – it makes us less sus- ceptible to market fluctuations and creates a solid capital base. For myself, I have found a good new mix of physical and vir- tual contact with employees and clients – one that is at least as efficient as the old one.

We can build a more sustainable future if we just help those around us, without expecting anything in return

CHristian Vollmann


The neighbourhood platform was founded by

Christian Vollmann. The KaufNebenan relief action for local small businesses and freelancers whose existence was at stake was

a perfect example of how digitalisation can break down social barriers in times of need even without face-to-face contact. Vollmann believes the pandemic has caused a rise in solidarity

in our society.

What is the

main conclusion

that we

need to draw

from the

coronavirus crisis?

Do you believe humanity

is capable of creating

a different, new and

more sustainable world

in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic?

What did the

coronavirus crisis

teach me

about myself

and my


The biggest lesson is: The virus couldn’t

be stopped by any borders and made no distinction in terms of skin colour, ethnici- ty, class and the likes. We as humans are

all in the same boat. We are all one people.

We can build a more sustainable future

if we live by the principle of paying it

forward, i.e. simply helping our neighbour without expecting anything in return. Everyone can start doing it today, it doesn’t cost us anything. But the community

benefits from it, and we will only be able

to move forward together. A good example was the KaufNebenan (BuyNextDoor)

campaign created by Postbank, Deutsche

Bank and, which helped local traders to get through the crisis through simple support.

Firstly, I have learned to be humble and to savour every moment. Life could be over tomorrow. Secondly, I have learned the val- ue of flexibility and being able to quickly adjust to new circumstances.

Our values have

proved successful

Andrea Pontremoli


Andrea Pontremoli came to the Italian company Dallara after working at IBM. The car manufacturer specialises on the development of light, environmentally friendly materials and energy-efficient aerodynamics in motor sports. During the pandemic, Pontremoli realised that Dallara’s expertise could also

be used to help other companies.


What is the main conclusion that we need

to draw from the coronavirus crisis?

What has the coronavirus crisis taught you about yourself and about your business?

During the coronavirus crisis, the entire motorsport sector came to a halt, therefore we were also forced to stop our production, but we went ahead with the design depart- ments, we had 200 engineers and techni- cians who constantly worked from home. Many of Dallara’s new projects are linked

to our customers in the automotive and aerospace sector. We’ve managed to main- tain all the deadlines we had and this is a positive factor, since we have rediscovered a different kind of efficiency. This was pos- sible thanks to the investments we made on broadband and IT systems, they have

allowed us to continue our work without having to activate a massive data transfer. All the design activities and staff services – administration, IT, commercial, communi- cation, etc. – never stopped thanks to our “smart working” concept: our people were connected and operated at 100 percent on

a daily basis. For the production part, we took advantage of the weeks of forced clo- sure to plan a gradual reopening in full compliance with the rules on social dis- tancing, focusing on non-postponable ac- tivities and staggering the restart of all other non-urgent production activities.

The emergency has not changed Dallara’s mission or vision. Our basic values haven’t changed: investing in people, a culture of error, the honesty of building value for our clients, believing in continuous innovation, in short: the search for excellence. The coronavirus crisis has pushed us to think before we act and we have understood that the skills that we previously applied essen- tially on the automotive world can also have a great value in other sectors such as the biomedical and aerospace field.

Humans need

social interaction. We need social contact

Hanna Eisinger



In partner restaurants in Munich, guests are charged one euro more in the winter months. Via the charitable initiative Hilf Mahl!, 100 percent of this money is used to support three facilities in Munich that take care of homeless people in need. Hanna Eisinger is one of the founders of Hilf Mahl! and sees an increase in social solidarity due to the coronavirus crisis.

What is the

main conclusion that we need to draw from the coronavirus crisis?

What can we do

so that we

don’t fall back

into old patterns?

What has the

crisis taught you about yourself and your

social engagement?

One of the biggest realisations for me was that we humans need social interaction.

We need social contacts. Experiencing a sense of community through digital media is not enough. A screen cannot replace di- rect contact. Another realisation is how strong our community is. Shopping for others, taking care of neighbours, baking

a cake for the elderly – that was a really great movement. That has to continue even after the coronavirus crisis.

We should continue with what we have learned from the coronavirus crisis. Take the integration of our professional and

private lives. Since the coronavirus crisis,

I identify with this topic even more than before. How do I organise myself working from home? How do families distribute work among themselves? I hope that it is now clear once and for all that we need

new technology and that companies will

be more open to creating the framework conditions for reconciling work, life and family.

As a business woman, I don’t accept any decline in sales – that also applies to our "Hilf Mahl” (helping meal) initiative! If

the coronavirus crisis should result in a

dip for the restaurants whose guests sup- port us with a euro per meal, we simply need to acquire more restaurants so that we can guarantee the usual amount of around 15,000 euros per year to the three facilities for homeless people that we sup- port in Munich. One could say that the cri- sis has strengthened us in our approach. “Hilf Mahl!” has to continue. For this to happen, our role also has to stay the same: We collect money for Munich’s people in need.