Grounded in theory and applied and practically oriented in research and teaching, PFH faculty members are both subject-matter experts in their respective disciplines and proven practitioners with at least five years professional experience. They welcome students with open arms and always keep their office doors open.
Such faculty member is Prof. Dr. Bernhard H. Vollmar, who joined PFH 12 years ago as a professor of General Business Administration, specializing in Entrepreneurship and Finance. Since 2009, he has been responsible for practice-oriented teaching and research and innovation-based projects focused on business start-ups. He is also the director of the ZE Center for Entrepreneurship, the central institution for innovation, entrepreneurship and family business.
We had the wonderful opportunity to do an interview with Prof. Dr. Bernhard H. Vollmar which we hope you enjoy!
1. What motivated you to pursue a career in Entrepreneurship and Finance?
Life paths always emerge. They are always a mixture of wishes, passion, luck and of course coincidence. After banking training, I focused my studies not only on banking and finance, but on management in general. In research, I then dealt with fundamental theoretical questions such as trust in economic processes, but always focused on innovative developments as well. I was able to apply this knowledge in practice while working for an international management consulting firm.
My further academic path then led me into the broad field of entrepreneurship, but always in connection with innovation practice, which I have further developed through my own start-up consulting experience, management experience in an innovation incubator and start-up experience. Financing topics are always relevant here as well, and that is what makes it so exciting and interesting, that entrepreneurship should be understood as a cross-sectional discipline.
In my current work, where I try to set ideas in motion, this exciting mix of academic and professional experience is reflected. In this respect, many development steps and thematic approaches have come together in order to do my work in teaching, research and transfer with commitment and passion and, above all, to strengthen the confidence of the target groups.
2. You have been a lecturer at various universities, you have been a consultant, a research assistant, and an adviser for business start-ups. What kind of advice would you give to someone who is considering a start-up project?
One cannot really give the "one" piece of advice. It always depends on the prerequisites and framework conditions for the business concepts for those interested in starting up. But one can already basically refer to the insight that "thinking in business models" is important.
You also have to be able to authentically represent and consistently communicate your idea and the business concept based on it so that you can convince third parties. Ultimately, trust and communication matters.
Another important aspect is to focus consistently on sustainability from the beginning. In the meantime, over 40% of startups in Germany are sustainable, i.e. socially and ecologically oriented, with an upward trend. This is the only way to solve the problems of our time in a truly innovative way without harming future generations.
3. At PFH University, you are responsible for practice-oriented teaching and research and innovation-based projects focused on business start-ups. Tell us about your department's achievements in this area and about current/future projects you are working on.
With the launch of the ZE Center for Entrepreneurship, which I also head, the strategic profile of the university as a university for entrepreneurs and start-ups has been significantly sharpened for more than ten years. Not only for the department, but for the entire university, it stands for the fulfillment of the "third mission" and is the ideal place for developing and implementing one's own business ideas. It offers our students, alumni and all interested parties start-up and innovation support at a consistently excellent level. This is regularly confirmed to us in the national comparative study, the Gründungsradar: We regularly rank among the best.
We offer a wide range of training, advice, support, for example in the form of labs, and networks that help everyone make significant progress. In everything we offer, we bring our expertise to bear as a team, and we are extremely responsive to founders and innovators. This goes so far that we have established our own crowdfunding platform, Ideenbeweger, which we are currently developing further with matchfunding through sponsors, for example.
In addition, we are consistently involved in entrepreneurship education in schools in order to facilitate experience with entrepreneurship at an early stage. A statewide digital competition for schools, which will be launched soon, complements this and underlines our strong commitment to entrepreneurship education. There are a variety of opportunities here, also for students, to get involved in a professional and at the same time philanthropic way.
4. In your opinion, what are the most important skills to start and run a successful business?
In analogy to question 2, solid business knowledge, profound methodological and social know-how, a certain degree of creativity, critical judgment and, above all, openness and enthusiasm for new things are recommended. This is the only way to develop the necessary self-confidence and to deal with challenges courageously and confidently.
One should consistently align oneself with the needs of the customers. Having tried out your ideas and projects once or several times in advance is certainly also an advantage in order to be able to learn from your first mistakes. Every attempt makes you wiser. Lifelong learning is a must anyway, so that you can keep an eye on the markets and customers as well as your own "social impact". It is also advisable to start up as a team, because not everyone can do everything and you have a better chance of success that way.
5. What kind of advice would you give to future PFH Management students?
Entrepreneurial leadership can develop in many ways, especially if you set the course early on in your education and qualification path. Therefore, one should be intensively engaged and practice project development.
In many professional situations, it is important to develop the ability to turn ideas into action. Good ideas can only be developed with sound knowledge and the right methodology can be implemented well. Entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship should be understood as a cross-sectional and key competence. The earlier you develop and try them out, the better.
Shaping one's future can be described as true life entrepreneurship. One should start on the path in this direction at an early age. It is important to study with the awareness that you are laying the foundations for your own future, which you can then shape more flexibly and independently.
Thank you for taking the time to read our interview with Prof. Dr. Bernhard H. Vollmar. If you are thinking about studying in Germany, PFH offers a Master’s Degree in General Management in which you can take the cross-cutting topic of Corporate Management with different variants, including Accounting. While if you are interested in being even more international, we also offer dual degree programmes, where you study part of your time in New York, London, Bordeaux or even Australia and receive two degrees.
At PFH we make sure you receive a high-quality education while making the most out of your study abroad experience!