Consultant and Mentor Kai-Olaf Dammenhain
“I want to develop solutions with people”
Not only companies are well advised by Kai-Olaf Dammenhain. For more than twenty years he has also been a mentor. He advises his mentees to do one thing above all: take the initiative. To his mentees he recommends mainly one thing: Self-initiative. “I’m interested in how people can be prepared for change and challenges”, he explains. “I want to develop solutions with people, not just for people.”
TAKING THE INITIATIVE
Kai-Olaf Dammenhain almost could not start his mechanical engineering studies at TUM in 1983. His application had arrived much too late. With a personal letter he sought direct contact with the then-president of TUM Professor Dr. Wolfgang Wild. Kai-Olaf Dammenhain was quite surprised when he received a telephone call from the Office of the President. Without much ado, he was told how he could manage to study here after all. “The support, I received from TUM, and not only here, has left its mark on me,” he says. “This TUM spirit impresses me and still drives me to this day.”
THE APPEAL OF CONSULTING
Early on Kai-Olaf Dammenhain came into contact with the subject of school and work. He accompanied his then-wife, a teacher, to class. There, he explained the subject of careers to the students and taught them how to apply for jobs and what was important in doing so. Since then, Kai-Olaf Dammenhain did not let go of this form of counseling. “Working and dealing with young people means a lot to me,” he says. “It is simply fun to pass on knowledge, but to also understand the new challenges.”
Since 1997, Kai-Olaf Dammenhain has been a mentor for the Forum Kiedrich, an initiative for start-ups, which he co-founded back then. As a lecturer at the Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg he has been passing on his knowledge to students since 2001. And since the first day in 2008, on which the program TUM Mentoring by Alumni for Students was launched, he has been engaged as a mentor for his alma mater.
He does not use any special mentoring methods. He lets himself be inspired instead by his own experiences from his time studying at TUM. “There was no mentoring program back then,” he remembers. “In sum, you were much more on your own, but as a result you could also shape a lot yourself if you wanted to.” With this in mind, Kai-Olaf Dammenhain motivates his mentees above all to take the initiative themselves, to define the topics and demand deadlines. “You have to know what you want,” he advises his mentees. “And if you really want it, you can do it!”
Kai-Olaf Dammenhain knows what he wants. He approached his alma mater in 2019 with his ideas about TUM’s wide-ranging mentoring programs and regarding the TUM Alumni Network. “Alongside the university with its staff and faculty on the one hand, and the students on the other hand, the alumni are the third pillar of a university,” he explains. His goal is to further strengthen the alumni network and to encourage other alumni to get involved. “All alumni are equally connected to TUM.”
The initiative by Kai-Olaf Dammenhain was received positively. Promptly, workshops were planned for summer 2020. The first ideas from these brainstorming sessions for expanding the TUM Alumni Network have already put into practice, such as the “Initiative Stuttgart” together with the TUM alumna Dr. Viktoria Leonhard. In this framework, TUM alumni in or from Stuttgart from now on meet regularly, exchange ideas and support each other. “Now I hope that other ideas will also be implemented,” says Kai-Olaf Dammenhain. “TUM needs to think about its offers and, conversely, the alumni have to consider, which offers they can make to TUM. This way the TUM Alumni Network, the TUM family, can grow through even more impulses.”
For his outstanding commitment, Kai-Olaf Dammenhain already received the golden TUM pin in 2012. “This honor means a lot to me,” he says. “I was so proud back then and still am. And it fosters connection. I am convinced we humans do not need much, but we need feedback in some form, and the TUM pin is a much appreciated honor for me.”
Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering 1989
For his studies Kai-Olaf Dammenhain moved from Hannover to Munich. In 1989 he completed his studies at TUM as a mechanical engineer with a Master’s degree. Since then, he has been filling one management position after the other in industry and consulting. Since 2012 he has been working for the Techedge Group in Walldorf, Baden-Württemberg. As the managing director and partner he drove the expansion and redirection of the business in Germany. Since the autumn of 2020 he has been heading the new Digital Advisory business division and guides companies through the digital transformation process.
Since 2001 Kai-Olaf Dammenhain has been working at the Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg as a lecturer for industrial application systems. In 2012, he was awarded the golden TUM pin for his extraordinary commitment to his alma mater. Kai-Olaf Dammenhain is a trained behavioral trainer. As a long-standing member of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), he is additionally engaged on a community level.
Kai-Olaf Dammenhain is married and has two grown-up children. He is a passionate skier and enjoys motor vehicles of all kinds, whether they have two wheels or four. His own car the mechanical engineer built himself.