Dr. Karin Thelen

For her new job in a major corporation, Karin Thelen wanted to consolidate her expertise in management and business administration. She did not consider any other university than TUM for her MBA. In 2018 she completed her master's degree (Image: Private).

Alumni in leadership
Manager Karin Thelen
“Natural Sciences and Management Are an Excellent Combination”
21. Jul 2019  |  
Reading time Min.
TUM Alumni Karin Thelen is uniting the best of both worlds. With her scientific expertise she is driving development and innovation and she decisively contributes to the economic success of her company.
Karin Thelen knew early on that she wanted to work in natural sciences. She was searching for a university at which experts would provide her with a first-class education and where she would receive long-lasting support for her career. “I found exactly that at TUM. Here, I had found an excellent partner for my professional and personal development“, she says and stresses: “This is not just a phrase. It is precisely what I have experienced.“

In 2002 she graduated with a diploma in Biology. In 2009 a doctorate in Microbiology followed. Professor and TUM Emeritus of Excellence Karl-Heinz Schleifer was her supervisor. “He is an outstanding scientist and a very inspiring personality”, Karin Thelen remembers. “His research made sure that TUM is at the forefront in the field of Microbiology and Molecular Biology.”

Boundless creative drive

In order to gain practical business experience, Karin Thelen worked in a start-up while still studying. She started as an intern and, after her doctorate, had made it up to Head of Research and Development. She quickly realized how much she enjoyed being creative and making positive changes, and how essential her management skills are in this area. Therefore, a change of perspective and new challenges were needed. She deliberately switched to a large corporation and accepted an offer from Stadtwerke München.

TUM has been an excellent partner for my scientific and entrepreneurial development.

Karin Thelen

Consolidating her expertise in management and business administration was an obvious choice for Karin Thelen, and so she decided to do a Master in Business Administration (MBA). “I wanted to be prepared for today’s complexity and volatility and its issues”, she says. For her MBA she did not consider any other university than TUM. She was able to win over Professor Isabell M. Welpe to supervise her master’s thesis. “She is an authority in research and business, a driving force of digital transformation with exceptional strategic and organisational skills”, says Karin Thelen. “Working with this excellent specialist and luminary has inspired and motivated me a lot.”

Quest for continuous improvement

For several years, Karin Thelen headed the Quality Control and Quality Assurance department at Münchner Stadtwerke. Since July 2023, she has been the managing director of the newly established Regional Energy Transition division at Stadtwerke. With tireless drive, she is transforming its spheres of activity, increasing operational efficiency and creating new business opportunities beyond established structures. In doing so, she is doing exactly what she is passionate about: Designing, developing, optimizing, changing. Karin Thelen not only develops the company, but also the skills of her employees. As a member of the board of the internal women’s network, she is particularly concerned with networking the women in the company, promoting them, making them visible and encouraging them.

Networking and personal initiative

Networking and the exchange with female seniors and mentors is fundamentally important not just for women in STEM, says Karin Thelen. “Personally I think it is extremely important to show potential pathways through role models, which have successfully embarked on these careers”, she states. She can imagine very well to give back to her university and to become a mentor for the program TUM mentoring from alumni to students. Yet, what she would like even more is to help make the existing TUM Network even more visible and effective, and in doing so, strategically connecting all students, alumni, and TUM. “Either way I will remain faithful to TUM”, she says with a smile with regard to her creative interest, which does not even stop short of her alma mater.

The desire to create and the joy in ongoing personal development are Karin Thelen’s inexhaustible sources of motivation. She specifically moulded her career so that it caters to her passions and competencies. This is what she advises young women to do, too: “Form networks, be open, take initiative and actively shape your personal path.”

TUM Alumna Karin Thelen.

Karin Thelen (Image: Private).

Dr. Karin Thelen

Degree Biology 2002, Doctorate 2009, MBA 2018


Karin Thelen has studied Microbiology and Molecular Biology, Genetics and Virology at TUM. In 2002 she graduated with a diploma in Biology. In 2009 a doctorate in Microbiology followed. Between 2016 and 2018 she also studied Business Administration at TUM. Still in her Biology studies, Karin Thelen started to work for a start-up in the area of industrial microbiology.

Fifteen years later she switched to Stadtwerke München. She was laboratory manager there for several years and most recently headed the Quality Control and Quality Assurance department. Since July 2023, she has been the managing director of the newly established Regional Energy Transition division at Stadtwerke.

With immense vigour and dedication Karin Thelen is managing her sphere and motivates and supports her team. In her role as the chairwoman of the Women’s Network of Stadtwerke she especially wants to empower and support women in the company.

Whenever Karin Thelen is not networking she enjoys travelling, especially to Asia and in the USA. She also draws new strength from sports and in nature.