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HANNOVER MESSE is the showcase for innovations and products in industry. But it's a lot more than just that. It is forward-looking, trend-setting and a place where attention can be drawn to challenges faced in the industrial sector – one of which is the shortage of skilled workers. In order to counteract this trend and break down prejudices against vocational training, ebm-papst – a manufacturer of fans and drives based in Mulfingen, Germany – broke new ground at HM23: trainees and students took on the overall responsibility for the medium-sized company's appearance at the event. In the wake of HANNOVER MESSE (HM) we talked to two of the lead organizers – Melanie Bildhoff (MB) and Kim Ziegler (KiZ) – about their experiences, reactions and verdict on this special project.

HM: HANNOVER MESSE ended a few weeks back and, undoubtedly, the demands of your everyday work have long since reclaimed your attention. What was your particular highlight?

MB: For me, the fair as a whole was a mega highlight. Finally getting to see and experience everything we had planned and organized for months was simply fantastic.

KiZ: A personal highlight lies in being able to be part of the whole. Most of it worked as we planned, and we improvised well on the very few things that didn't.

Nevertheless, the biggest highlight for me was the feedback we got from external sources. We had coverage in various newspapers in the region, and not just once. We were in the evening news on TV and the subject of a report broadcast on the ZDF Nano TV channel, and even featured in Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Instagram feed.

HM: Speaking of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, he visited your stand as well. How would you describe that?

MB: As long as I live, I won't forget that moment as the Chancellor and the President of Indonesia stood there in front of me. That stampede of cameras and microphones – simply incredible!

HM: Who actually had the idea of giving you apprentices and trainees the responsibility for your company's stand at HM23, and why?

KiZ: The motto of the whole thing was to put the spotlight on the dual vocational training system. What could be better than to show that a apprenticeship or a dual study program also already means being able to take on responsibility? In the next step, the head of corporate communications and our training manager then approached the three of us to see if we would like to take in this project.

MB: That's right! In the company we are constantly tasked with new challenges and given responsibility towards helping our development. The top-down support we also get means that a lot of confidence is placed in us.

HM: What were the biggest challenges you faced on the organizational side and how did you master them?

MB: Keeping track of all the tasks involved. The fact that we had no previous experience in that sphere meant that fresh tasks continuously arose that we hadn't thought of. We were nevertheless able to take care of them by coordinating and working well together.

HM: What were the reactions during HM to your special project?

KiZ: Overwhelming! Even at the fair, visitors came and mentioned that they had seen us on TV. Other exhibitors came and asked what made us so special that such a lot of politicians visited our stand. Our families at home told us that we were on various radio stations and in the main evening news on TV. And it's also a great feeling at the fair to hear that the management is proud of you.

MB: The reactions were tremendous! Reports in the newspapers and on the radio and TV, being featured in the main evening news on TV – it was all there. Not to mention all the social media posts. As I said, even the Chancellor mentioned us in his Instagram story.

HM: And in the meantime? Was there feedback in the wake of the fair, and how was it?

KiZ: It was positive across the board. The company's shareholders wrote us a letter of thanks, besides which there was a lot of positive feedback from colleagues who were naturally also interested in what it was like at HANNOVER MESSE.

MB: In fact, we have received several requests to report on our project. The people are really enthusiastic about it, which, of course, makes us very happy.

HM: What is your own verdict?

KiZ: That it was an incredible project and we all had great fun together in Hannover working as a team. It was an indescribable experience, and I am grateful to have been a part of it.

MB: I would go to HANNOVER MESSE again and again. It was such an enjoyable and exciting week. I would say the project was a complete success, even if it entailed a whole lot of hard work.

HM: One last question: What are ebm-papst's plans for HM24? Can we expect a special project again?

MB: Of course! ebm-papst stands for innovations and we never stand still! Just like the airstreams we control.

Many thanks for this interview and all the best for the future!