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An Interview with Anneliese Bischof

© Julia Vogel Photography

Disinfection is her business

Covid-19 is still spreading worldwide. A vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease is perhaps the best hope for ending the pandemic. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus. Our alumna Anneliese Bischof (Class of 2016 - M.Sc. Corporate Development) is Business Director Disinfection at LANXESS. She is responsible for the global and strategic direction of the business unit "Disinfection" and we spoke to her about her work in times of Corona and and about her time as a student at the WiSo faculty.

Dear Ms. Bischof, after the outbreak of the corona virus there is an increased demand for disinfectants worldwide. How does this situation affect your work? 

In the context of the COVID-19 outbreak we have seen a further significant increase in demand for our surface disinfectants from all over the world, even from countries with which little or no business had previously been done - including some real "exotics" such as Mauritius, Tajikistan or Mongolia. But for us, the Corona pandemic came on top of an already very strong demand due to the African swine fever, which raged in Asia and Eastern Europe last year and is still not completely tamed. In addition, the competitive pressure has of course increased in many countries due to Fast Track registration procedures, but our products have already been represented by a strong brand for decades and are currently experiencing enormous growth as a result.

Of course, for me too, one of the decisive differences in the current situation is that business travel is currently not possible. In my global role, I usually travel around the world a lot, which has now been eliminated at a stroke. In times like these, staying close to customers and the team is a new challenge, but we have found creative ways to overcome these difficulties.

Can you tell us more about your duties and responsibilities as Business Director Disinfection?

In my role, I am responsible for the global and strategic direction of the Disinfection business unit within LANXESS and I am also responsible for the financial success of the segment. Product management, technical marketing, product development and marketing communications are also within my direct management range. In my role, there is no regulated daily routine, but that's exactly what I find very exciting, because every day new issues and challenges arise that need to be solved. Since we work with biocidal active ingredients in the field of disinfectants, which are heavily regulated around the world, I also work very closely with our regulatory department to bring our products to market in compliance with the law. This can take 3 months in some cases and 5 years in others! 

And what do you particularly enjoy in your position?

I have always wanted an international position, as I also enjoy travelling in my private life and am interested in languages and cultures. My current position allows me to meet business contacts all over the world and to build up an international network.

What are the most important contents or insights from your studies for your current profession?

During my studies I tried to take on as many practical offers as possible (case studies, business project at Deutsche Bahn AG, course at an EY partner).

This gave me the opportunity to gain deep insights into different industries and fields of work and to apply many of the theoretical models that you learn at university in practice. These are still very useful for me today, to evaluate strategic approaches, ask the right questions and take a holistic view of a situation. I rarely sit in my everyday life and paint Porter's Five Forces or a BCG matrix, but e.g. the mechanism described in such models has quite practical relevance in everyday business.

I rarely sit in my everyday life and paint Porter's Five Forces or a BCG matrix, but e.g. the mechanism described in such models has quite practical relevance in everyday business.

Anneliese Bischof

When you think back to your student days, are there any situations or personalities that have particularly shaped you?

I was introduced to my current employer in a guest lecture by Dr. Rainier van Roessel (former member of the LANXESS Board of Management & alumnus of the WiSo faculty) in my first or second semester. At that time I already found the company very interesting and when I was looking for a practical cooperation for my master thesis, I applied to LANXESS on my own initiative and, thanks to the support of Professor Ebers, I was able to realize my thesis at LANXESS. This relationship with Professor Ebers' chair has continued even after I joined LANXESS, so that I have, among other things, carried out two business projects in cooperation between the chair and LANXESS. Please complete the sentence:

"When I think back to my time as a student in Cologne, I think of...

....a lot of work combined with a lot of fun and many interesting insights that helped me to define my further professional path.

Enjoy the time and freedom while studying

Anneliese Bischof

What would you like to give to our students? What are your three tips?

a.    Take all practical opportunities that are offered to you (business projects, company presentations, internships) in order to get the best possible insight into the everyday working life.
b.    Take advantage of the opportunities to broaden your horizon beyond the purely professional offerings of the university
c.    Enjoy the time and freedom while studying and travel as much as you can (including semester abroad)

Thank you very much for the interview!

Interview: Ayla Wisselinck