I had the pleasure of meeting fellow Wharton graduate Joe Lichtenberger, WG’00, earlier this winter in the beer capital of Europe, Munich, where Joe has lived since July 2000.
Joe graduated from Wharton in the dot-com boom and was lured to an Internet incubator/VC, which grew rapidly to more than 10 countries throughout Europe. He then moved into the telecommunications industry with stints at a German-based network provider, sold later to Telefónica. Moving to Kabel Deutschland, Germany’s largest cable TV provider, Joe served in various roles, including corporate finance and customer lifecycle management. Joe has just returned to his entrepreneurial roots, as CFO of Scout24, an Internet-based classified platform with 1,300 employees. While he has only been on the job for a few months, he has already negotiated and closed a deal in Singapore and expects to lead the company through additional acquisitions and significant funding events.
On his recent 40th birthday, Joe decided he wanted to do something more than just buy a few beers for friends. He wanted to do something to make an impact. Inspired by learning his best friend from high school had contracted leukemia, he raised $40,000 for the Duke Cancer Institute through dinners, concerts and other events he organized in both Germany and the United States.
Beyond his clear generosity of spirit, one of the many reasons it was a delight to meet Joe was that he was very updated on the resources available to Wharton alumni. Even though the Wharton community in Munich is smaller than most U.S. cities (there are 256 alumni in all of Germany), Joe is getting tremendous benefit from the network by taking full advantage of the opportunities the School offers. He has attended Wharton’s Global Alumni Forums—most recently in Milan, where he networked and touched base with former professors, such as Franklin Allen, the Nippon Life Professor of Finance. Additionally, Joe takes advantage of the alumni webinars and articles produced by Knowledge@Wharton.
The Wharton alumni community in Munich, and more generally in Germany, is very active as well. There are regional events monthly in Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg under the new leadership of Bernd Wendeln, WG’04, president of the Wharton Club of Germany/Austria.
I am particularly looking forward to a weekend in the Rheingau during the last weekend in October, including a monastery tour, wine tasting, dinner at a castle and a boat ride. If you are in Germany, I hope you will join us.