Sunday 21. October 2007

REVIEW *** HBS Alumni Winter Retreat in Kitzbühel 2007

As part of the drive to continually increase the quality of our networking events, we decided to try out a theme approach for the first time. For our Winter Retreat 2007, the theme "Greentech" was selected. Participants were reminded of the urgent need for action on global warming by the almost total absence of snow in Kitzbühel village.

Professor Forest Reinhardt opened the program with the "Mid-Missouri Energy" case on the production of fuel ethanol from corn in America. Moderating a lively debate in the best HBS tradition, Professor Reinhardt used this seemingly simple story to unveil the complexities of alternative fuels, energy independence, carbon emissions and agricultural subsidies. After-dinner drinks against a backdrop of traditional Bavarian music provided a perfect opportunity to meet old friends and welcome first-time participants to the event.

John Denniston from Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers started the professional program on Saturday morning with a fabulous presentation on KPCB's history and their latest initiative, The Greentech Innovation Network. After several years of analysis of the energy sector, KPCB became convinced of the need for new government policies and breakthrough technologies to mitigate the challenges resulting from increasing global energy demand and global warming. KPCB's support of AB32 as being good for business as well as good for the environment helped ensure that this watershed new legislation was passed in California in Fall of 2006. Since the Californian legislation was passed, a change of heart on environmental issues has been rippling through the USA.

Andreas Tchiesner from McKinsey presented some detailed analyses of the costs and benefits of a wide range of CO2 reduction measures. Simple measures such better insulation of buildings are the most cost effective and can be implemented with current technology. Whereas cars are not the greatest contributor to CO2 emissions, the automotive industry has been the focus of much of the recent debate. Andreas underscored the need for objective analysis of the true economics of alternative CO2 reduction strategies.

The automotive theme was continued by a fascinating talk by Dr. Helmut Panke, recently retired CEO of BMW AG. From its origins as a manufacturer of aircraft engines in 1914, BMW has experienced many highs and lows. The recent success of the company is strongly linked to an uncompromising focus on building cars which deliver BMW values to customers. Dr. Panke underscored the need for objectiveness in analyzing environmental issues: the average fuel consumption of BMW vehicles has been reduced by 30% since 1996 while at the same time power has been increased by 20%.


Hans-Martin Rüter, CEO of Conergy AG told the unusual and inspiring story of a highly successful German start-up company. Starting with a vision of making photo-voltaic generation cost effective, Conergy has developed into a world-leading provider of PV solutions. Conergy has also been an impressive financial success story, from start-up in 1998 to successful IPO in 2005.

The professional program was rounded off by a panel discussion moderated by Ed McBride, Energy and Environmental Correspondent of "The Economist". Hans-Martin Rüter and Helmut Panke were joined on the panel by Jim Barry (CEO NTR PLC) and Olaf Köppe from KPMG.

Sunday skiing was restricted by limited snow, but brilliant sunshine for the traditional lunchtime meeting at Sonnenbühl was the perfect conclusion to a great weekend.


Special thanks to Pamela Vorbrugg, Erkan Kilicaslan, Harald Maehrle and Hubert Birner for organizing the event. Thanks also to Margaret Doyle for international co-ordination.

The HBS Association would also like to thank our sponsors KPMG, TVM Capital and GLL Real Estate Partners for helping to make this event possible.



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