Dr. Markus Kerber
Economist, Director General of the Federation of German Industries (BDI)
DAAD Scholarship 1985–1986
Markus Kerber is considered Germany’s most influential business lobbyist. As Director General of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), he represents more than 100,000 manufacturing companies in Germany. Kerber, who holds a PhD in economics and social sciences, has set out to improve the way business and politics interact. It’s a task he’s perfectly equipped to handle. Born in Ulm in 1963, the financial expert is well acquainted with both sides.
Without the stay in the United States, I would definitely have taken a completely different path.
Markus Kerber studied at the University of Hohenheim and the University of California, Los Angeles. The six months he spent on a DAAD scholarship in California had a profound influence on his life and career. “The combination of living abroad, studying in a different system and experiencing a different culture broadened my horizons in the truest sense of the word,” he says looking back. “Without the stay in the United States, I would definitely have taken a completely different path.” After gaining his PhD, he applied for a job at the venerable London bank S.G. Warburg & Co. – and immediately embarked on a successful career in investment banking. He then moved to Deutsche Bank and later became chief financial officer with IT service provider GFT Technologies in Stuttgart. When he totted up his frequent-flyer miles and found that in eleven years he had spent a whole year of his life in the air, Markus Kerber handed in his resignation and turned to politics. Wolfgang Schäuble gave him a job at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, where he headed the Department of Policy Planning and International Analyses and organised the first Islam Conferences. When the grand coalition ended, he followed Schäuble to the Federal Finance Ministry, where he was responsible for international financial and monetary policy.
Since 2011, Markus Kerber has been Director General of the BDI, which he also represents internationally – in Brussels, Shanghai or London. Mobility is something he still considers the most important thing for students. “It forces you to constantly toughen your own coordinate system,” Kerber emphasises. “Changing your frames of reference also encourages interdisciplinary thinking.”