Sebastian Stietzel, owner and managing director of two investment companies, was elected new president by the majority of delegates at the General Assembly of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) on Tuesday evening in the Ludwig Erhard Haus in Charlottenburg. The 42-year-old Vice-President prevailed against the 67-year-old opponent, Barbara Jaeschke.
The owner of the GLS Language Center Berlin in Prenzlauer Berg would have been the second woman to hold a top honorary post in the history of the Berlin Chamber after TV producer Beatrice Kramm, who gave up the honorary post last year.
92 valid votes were cast. There were 62 votes for Stietzel, 27 for Jaeschke and three abstentions, the Tagesspiegel learned from participants. Stietzel succeeds the previous President Daniel-Jan Girl (41), who was only nine months in office. Girl received only 235 votes at the election for the general meeting in May, in which all Berlin entrepreneurs were allowed to participate.
He would have needed almost twice as many votes to get a seat in the Chamber Parliament or later in the Presidium. In his list, he ended up in second to last place.
No neutral bystander has a plausible explanation for this election result: Neither was Girl criticized, nor was he so pale that one could not have recognized his name or face on the ballot. Some insiders of the chamber support the thesis that Girl campaigned “too hard” for other people’s candidacies, especially women – and “forgot” to campaign for herself as well. Some may have mistakenly assumed that Girl is fresh in office and doesn’t need to be re-elected.
Everything conceivable, but changed nothing: Girl had to stop. Ideas with which he had made a name for himself could now peter out – including the suggestion he had outlined in a guest article for the Tagesspiegel series “75 Visions for Berlin”: Berlin may decide to organize an “Expo” world exhibition in 2035 apply.
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Girl delivered his farewell address to the 99 elected delegates during Tuesday’s closed session of the General Assembly. He wished the new president “courage, creativity, perseverance and a lot of success from the bottom of my heart,” he told the Tagesspiegel in advance.
Girl’s successor Sebastian Stietzel, born in 1980 in Neustrelitz, a medium-sized town in the Mecklenburg Lake District, founded his first company there at the age of only 16, Computerservice Neustrelitz. He has lived in Berlin since 1999, now in Prenzlauer Berg with his wife, his nine-year-old son “and my cat Putzi,” as he revealed in a profile for the Tagesspiegel.
His grown-up daughter is studying in Cologne. He became an entrepreneur “because it fascinates me to design things proactively and, as an honorable businessman, I wanted to take responsibility for others and myself,” he said.
The business graduate is the founder and managing director of the medium-sized investment companies Marktflagge and German Future Ventures. He was a candidate in the IHK election on list 11 (banks, insurance companies, financial services). “It is important to me that we put together a team that reflects the newly elected General Assembly,” he said after announcing his candidacy in early June.
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You need experienced and new members, representatives of large and small companies, female and male representatives. Stietzel suggested Lana Wittig, Managing Director of the media company Edition F, and Sonja Jost, co-founder of the chemical start-up Dexlechem, as deputies. Robert Rückel from the German Spy Museum should also represent him in the presidium.
Stietzel has been well connected in the Chamber for years, was most recently Girls Vice and headed the IHK Competence Center for SMEs. He had Girl’s support. During the election campaign, critics accused Stietzel of a lack of transparency in his business dealings. Stietzel, with five employees – only two of whom are subject to social security contributions – is hardly suitable to adequately represent the city’s large employers, it said.
Stietzel was meanwhile on the defensive, but made an effort to ensure transparency and to sell himself as the legitimate successor to Girl. However, Stietzel’s candidacy motivated Barbara Jaeschke, whose company employs 160 people and has an annual turnover of 30 million euros, to run against him. If Girl had been able to continue, she wouldn’t have competed, she said.
After the chamber elections, the new president was to be presented to the public at the subsequent IHK summer party, to which 2000 guests from business, politics and the media were invited to the Ludwig Erhard House. This podium will also be used this year to present future-oriented ideas and/or products to the city’s decision-makers at an exhibition on the subject of “public street space”, the IHK announced.
It is important to the chamber that the ideas and products are innovative and sustainable. An exhibit was a mandatory requirement. “We want to show that the IHK Berlin supports innovative and sustainable ideas and products – for a sustainable Berlin,” said the chamber. The exhibition is to be opened in the evening by the Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) with the new IHK President during a joint tour.