Prof. Dr. Florian Feltes

Areas of expertise: Human Resource Management, Digital Leadership, New Work

Interview

Florian, what role does practice play in studying at XU?

Of course, we have to provide our students with a sound scientific education so that they can learn the necessary skills and also ask the right questions for the future. This knowledge can then be stress tested in practice. Students learn how companies, departments or mechanisms work – that is hardly possible from the outside. Only on site can they find out how things are currently going in companies and what could be done better in the future.

What are the advantages for students?

They get work experience, can try things out and learn first-hand which skills are in demand in the job and which they still need to acquire. In addition, they can explore whether these are really the areas they would like to enter more intensively later on. With every contact we offer in the degree programmes, students also get the chance to build their own network at an early stage. This is not only important for getting a job later on, but also when it comes to your own projects. If you want to start a business, you need sparring partners with whom you can talk about your ideas.

What practical projects are you pursuing?

In our HR courses, we teach fundamentals that many students are not yet able to bring with them. To this end, we regularly bring in proven experts to ensure direct practical contact. An employment lawyer, for example, offers a practice-oriented workshop, and on the topic of personnel selection we put the students in the situation of an assessment centre, where they get to know both sides of the selection process. In addition, I had TED Talks held in the Communication module together with my colleague Dr. Judith Innerhofer.

What happens in such TED Talks?

TED Talks are short, in our case about ten-minute talks that discuss a larger issue on a meta-level, provide solutions to problems or simply make you think – and that live strongly from storytelling. When applying for a job or pitching your start-up, you have to present yourself in the best possible way and inspire the audience completely. This can be practised with the help of TED Talks.

And what is the best way to inspire your audience?

When we listen to a lecture, we want to be taken on a journey. We want to be able to put ourselves in the story, in the experience. Speakers need to be able to handle these different levels – rational as well as emotional – and to analyse the audience for this purpose. We taught how to set up a TED Talk, how storytelling works, how to find a successful introduction and how to underpin your arguments with facts, figures and data. Because: A good idea is useless if you can’t get it across.

How has this been received by the students?

Very good for several reasons. Each person could talk about a topic that was important to him or her. In addition, a TED Talk is a completely different kind of exam performance. The fact that the presentation was in English was also a challenge. And from the final feedback, each student was able to draw something out for themselves, for example when it comes to rhetoric or facial expressions. Some contributions were so good that we will present them as part of the introductory week for new students.

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