• Graduation ceremony at the Gisma Berlin.

    Giving impulses to the economy

The Gisma University of Applied Sciences has had a campus in the Brain City Berlin since 2017. The Potsdam campus was opened in 2021. More than 660 students from all over the world are trained at the private university to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Being close to business is part of the credo of Gisma University of Applied Sciences. On the one side, that applies spatially: the private university has an inner-city campus directly on Potsdamer Platz. And the Potsdam campus, which opened just two years ago, is more or less part of the SAP Think Campus at the gates of the Brandenburg state capital and is located opposite the software company's Innovation Centre. The internationally oriented university which was founded in 1999 and is now state-recognised, also maintains close contacts with the business community. "Scientific collaborations are part of Gisma's foundation, because our goal is to provide innovative impulses for the economy. The best way to do that is to work closely with it," explains Brain City Ambassador Dr. Peter Konhäusner, himself an entrepreneur and professor of digital entrepreneurship at Gisma.

The university's network includes renowned companies such as Zalando, Deloitte, Ebay, Vattenfall and Deutsche Telekom. “Gisma has focused on training qualified specialists and managers in the knowledge sectors of technology, engineering and business administration and trains students and future specialists - also for Germany - from more than 70 nations. Diversity, skill development and holistic approaches play a major role,” adds Konhäusner. "We are resilient and agile, so we can also quickly incorporate current developments into our curriculum. I think that is particularly important - not only for students, but also for companies and ultimately society."

Tuan Pham from Vietnam and the Chilean Vannia Fernanda Naser Munoz are among the more than 660 students at the university. After thorough research and consideration, both made a conscious decision for Gisma and thus the capital region. Vannia Fernanda Naser Munoz applied for the Master's programme "MSc Leadership for Digital Transformation". "I specifically looked for an English-language programme with a focus on digital transformation. Gisma was one of the few universities in Germany to offer such a course," says the trained engineer, who worked in Chile for a supplier in the health sector. She would like to continue to help people with her work in the future and combine her technical knowledge with the skills and experience she acquired at Gisma in the field of digitalisation.

Tuan Pham is in his second semester at Gisma. He is enrolled in the English-language Master of Business Administration, "Global MBA". “My previous professional experience is related to start-ups. I specifically chose Berlin as a new location because the city has a strong start-up scene. It is ideal for me," says the 32-year-old, who has already founded two companies in his home country. His next career goal, however, is scientifically oriented. "After the MBA at Gisma, I would like to do a Ph.D. in Germany, or a doctorate."

The university now offers 19 Bachelor's and Master's programmes at its campuses in Berlin and Potsdam - from the BSc Computer Science to the MSc Data Science, AI and Digital Business. Research and teaching at Gisma are practice-oriented. The connection to the economy and business community runs primarily through the professors and lecturers. The conceptual approach: to make science tangible and applicable - in the sense of sustainable transfer knowledge. The capital region is the ideal environment for this. “In the context of our university, Berlin means: networking and participation,” says Peter Konhäusner. "The city, like no other, offers us the opportunity to open up exciting partnerships and cooperations for our students. Gisma students learn here how to deal with CEOs, politicians and also what makes companies tick in everyday working life." Field trips to partner companies, networking events as part of the flagship series "Skills Sprint Week" or scientific cooperations organised by the university as part of its membership in the SAP University Alliance offer students the opportunity to make contacts and further their education. Tuan Pham is enthusiastic about the practical teaching at Gisma: “I was positively surprised by the practical experiences of our professors. The realistic approach really suits me.”

A challenge that Tuan Pham and Vannia Fernanda Naser Munoz - like most of the approximately 57,000 foreign students in Berlin and Brandenburg - had to face largely alone. Coming to Germany, looking for an apartment and settling in here. Not an easy task, even if the university's “Accommodation Team” offers students initial support at least when looking for accommodation. "Start learning early on to gain at least a rudimentary knowledge of German if you want to come here," Vannia Fernanda Naser Munoz advises other students. "Take care of a visa, an apartment and similar organisational things as early as possible, because the whole process is long and often difficult." Tuan Pham also advises prospective foreign students to plan early and start processes in good time. It also makes sense to have enough cash with you in the beginning. Practical for career-related questions: The Gisma Career Center reviews CVs upon request, gives individual career tips and later establishes initial contacts with business for students. "That is wonderful, especially if you want to expand your network."

After a few semesters at Gisma, the two students also agree on another point: Contrary to a persistent prejudice abroad, Germans are essentially friendly and helpful. "One day my bicycle broke," Tuan Pham recalls. "I didn't say anything, but suddenly there was a knock at the door and a neighbour brought me the spare part that I needed. The people here have always been very open and hospitable to me.” In addition to studying at Gisma and the local start-up scene, this is another reason for the young Vietnamese entrepreneur to stay in Brain City Berlin for the time being. (vdo)


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