Bank executive, management consultant
DAAD Scholarship 1984–1986
The successful bank executive Franz-Hermann Hirlinger recognised the opportunity offered by a crisis and – no longer far from retirement age – launched into a new career. In the wake of the financial crisis, Bayrische Landesbank (BayernLB) closed the regional offices in Asia that Franz-Hermann Hirlinger managed. Rather than accepting a golden handshake and retiring, Hirlinger, who was born in 1950, founded a management consultancy. His company helped German small and medium-sized enterprises enter Asian markets, especially in Japan and Korea. Since 2005 G&S Asia has had several branches. The company is successful and its founder and former president satisfied.
This scholarship built a bridge to Japan and Korea for me – both in professional and personal terms.
Hirlinger’s first intensive contact with Japan began in 1984 when he went to the country with the DAAD to complete a 20-month programme after completing a traineeship as an industrial clerk and a degree programme in business administration, economics and journalism in Pforzheim and Berlin. He spent 10 months learning the language and 10 months at the ARD studio in Tokyo. It was a new programme: for the first time, young graduates with work experience did only come to Japan for a short visit, but were also able to familiarise themselves very thoroughly with a country that had previously been alien to many of them. During the almost two years of the programme, Hirlinger acquired the specialist expertise that was to determine his later career. "This scholarship built a bridge to Japan and Korea for me – both in professional and personal terms," recalls Hirlinger.
He initially wanted to become a financial journalist and worked at the ARD studio in Tokyo, but then received interesting offers from the worlds of banking and industry after he placed an advertisement "Japan expert looking for …" in the situations vacant section. He spent several years working as an Asia analyst at DZ-Bank in Frankfurt and was a commentator on the Japanese securities market for the "Telebörse" programme on commercial television. In 1989, he returned to Japan – together with his Japanese wife and their children – to work for Credit Suisse. In 1994 Hirlinger became head of the BayernLB regional office and founded its Korean branch in Seoul. He also opened the regional office of Invest in Bavaria, the Bavarian economic development agency, and became a member of the Board of Samsung Electronics Seoul as an “outside director”.