The election to the presidency of the Berlin Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) is going to be more exciting than one might have initially expected. Barbara Jaeschke, founder and owner of the GLS Language Center Berlin, wants to be elected honorary president of the chamber on June 28th. The entrepreneur told the Tagesspiegel. This leads to a competitive candidacy for the prestigious honorary position.
The financial entrepreneur Sebastian Stietzel, currently vice behind the incumbent President Daniel-Jan Girl, had previously declared his candidacy. Stietzel also presented a team with two female and two female candidates who want to be elected to the Executive Committee as deputies. He is also supported by Girl. He only succeeded his predecessor Beatrice Kramm in office last September and wanted to continue his work in the chamber. In the vote, in which all Berlin company owners could participate in May, Girl did not receive the number of votes required for one of the 99 seats in the “IHK Parliament”, the general assembly. According to the statutes, he may no longer be elected to the Executive Committee or even President. (Here you will find the election results in detail).
“I was shocked to learn that Girl had not been re-elected to the General Assembly. I supported him. He brought a lot of fresh air into the chamber,” said Jaeschke. If Girl had been able to run for office again as planned, she would not run. However, the candidacy of girl confidant Sebastian Stietzel motivated her to try for a majority in the general assembly.
The President of the IHK is considered an important representative of Berlin’s economy, also because he is at least theoretically legitimized by the entire entrepreneurial community due to the compulsory membership of all companies. The President is traditionally one of the first points of contact and critic of the Governing Mayor and her Senate. IHK presidents in recent years have been Werner Gegenbauer, owner of the facility management group of the same name and later Hertha President, Eric Schweitzer, co-owner of the Alba recycling group and later President of the chamber umbrella association DIHK, Beatrice Kramm, the only woman in the office to date, owner of the film production company Polyphon (“Traumschiff”) and Daniel-Jan Girl from the IT company of the DGMK.
Barbara Jaeschke, born in 1955 and raised in Lower Saxony, founded her company GLS – which stood for Göttingen Language School at the time – in 1983. Two years later she accompanied her husband, who had taken a job at Schering (today Bayer), to West Berlin. The company is now called GLS Sprachenzentrum Berlin, resides in Prenzlauer Berg in the former eastern part of the city and employs more than 150 people. In addition to language courses in Berlin, GLS also offers trips and internships abroad, generating an annual turnover of around 30 million euros.
Increasingly large parts of the operational management are now being taken over by the subsidiaries. In addition, Barbara Jaeschke has a son. “They’re doing great. So I can also allow myself the luxury of taking the 20 to 25 hours a week that you need to do this volunteer work.”
Jaeschke said she could understand that her opponent had already assembled a team to present themselves to the general assembly. She, too, had talks and encouraged personalities to run for the extended presidency. “It is important to me that the entire spectrum of business is represented on this committee in terms of company size, experience and gender. That doesn’t seem to be the case with the opponent’s team.” In principle, the presidency of the chamber should not only consist of self-confessed supporters of the president. “It also serves as a corrective.”
Barbara Jaeschke would like to impress the delegates with her 40 years of experience as an entrepreneur and with her talent for communication, which one can attribute to her as the founder of a language learning center. In a letter to the General Assembly, she named digitization and increased efficiency in education and administration as well as improving infrastructure and transport routes as key topics of a five-year term of office. Jaeschke is non-party “and proud of it”.