Original Recordings and Interviews

Voices of the winning teams and the Henkel mentors who participated in the Henkel Innovation Challenge.

The Winners 2012/2013 from Germany

Niels Henning Adler:
“In the first moment it was hard to realize that we really won on the international level. We have had a good feeling that we will be able to compete against the other teams, but winning the top prize was definitely more than expected. The Henkel Innovation Challenge was my first big business competition. It provided an ideal platform to get to know Henkel, receive valuable feedback to improve in future real world challenges and learn more about the exceptional sustainability approach used by Henkel. Although it was quite some work to do until we presented our idea in the international final, every second invested was worth it. It was an incredible experience. Thank you Henkel!”

Susann Tiffany Leuchtmann:
“Winning the Henkel Innovation Challenge feels incredible, still somewhat unbelievable and at the same time amazing. We believed in our idea from the moment we applied in Germany and of course we wanted to win throughout the whole time – however we couldn’t possibly have known that this was really going to happen. We had known the HIC for years and realized last fall that time had come to finally compete. In the end it was an experience on both levels – on a personal and on a professional – which made it unique and incredible: Developing your own idea and constantly challenging and pushing yourself to become better, meeting students from 17 other countries around the world, networking and speaking with the Henkel managers as if I was one of them. This was a once in a lifetime experience. Everyone in Shanghai was a winner and no one will ever forget this.”

Quotation Winners from Germany
The Winners 2011/2012 from China

“Inspired by our mentor in Hong Kong who worked as VP for Henkel Loctite a few years ago, I always wished to join a chemical company like Henkel as it suits my academic background in chemicals and business management. I believed HIC was a perfect platform for me to gain a real-life insight into the industry and get in touch with the world's largest adhesive company.

The most distinctive and valuable essence for HIC is all the guidance and exposure that we obtained as we proceeded to further rounds. With full financial support from Henkel, we flew to Shanghai and Warsaw for the finals in a multi-cultural environment. Meanwhile, the mentoring support is not restricted to the business game itself, but lasts beyond the challenge. That’s why we were not only advised on the project, but also on our personal career development.
From contacting HR at the registration stage, to meeting the jury members at the finals, we realized their passion and initiatives to assist young people like us personally and professionally. We can only imagine how much it costs for a manager to be away from their jobs for 3 whole days while attending the International Final!

We learned a lot about new product development by performing a fictional product launch in HIC, starting from brainstorming ideas, to developing a marketing proposal and preparing a financial forecast. Apart from the mentorship program, we were challenged by the jury members, which definitely helped us to further develop our proposal into a comprehensive plan.
HIC has been a fantastic experience for both of us and no exaggeration; it changed our lives by opening a new door for our future directions. The international final in Warsaw concluded the game, but commenced our new career options for tomorrow. Now I’m (Marco) now doing an internship at Henkel in the Branding department of Adhesive Technologies.”

Filip Degoricija and Matija Jakšić

Winners Henkel Innovation Challenge 2011/2012 (2nd place)

"At the end of our bachelor studies, we wanted to participate in a student competition to compare us to other students in the world. We selected 3 different business competitions but we decided to take part only in HIC, as we saw that we will have had fun while learning something very useful and new. And we weren't wrong.

You have to use your presentation skills and be very creative, innovative and interesting, while showing all characteristics that are important in business. The more you work on the project, the better the awards get. Later on in the competition you get a chance to meet top managers of Henkel and a big group of international students.

I never had so much fun doing something as challenging as HIC.

We learned the dos and don'ts in preparing a presentation for business people. We learned how to present and talk in public. We also learned a lot about other cultures and how a multinational company works.
On the last day of the international final we all (students and mentors) were driven in stretch limos to the VIP lounge on the Legia Warszawa football field. During the challenge, we spent all the time with Henkel top managers; they helped us, we talked, asked them questions and generally had fun!”

Bola Nam and Myriam Pille

Winning team Henkel Innovation Challenge 2011/2012 (3rd place)

"We heard of HIC through classmates from our school, ESDES Business School. They took part on the contest a couple of years before us and they told how fun and interesting it was. After talking with them and our marketing teacher, we decided to take part in the HIC adventure too!

It is a fun yet challenging way to discover Henkel’s values and principles. Plus, it is a great way to exploit our creative side as well as put in practice what we learned through our studies: marketing, finance, communication, sustainability …
HIC5 was definitely amazing and it went way beyond our expectations! Our HIC5 experience was full of surprises: not only we had fun, but we also developed new skills, pushed our limits and met incredible people! HIC5 is definitely one of the richest experiences we ever had!

But since we already won once, we want to let other people have a shot at winning too! We are excited to see the next HIC winners and we can’t wait to discover the new ideas! To sum up in a few words, to us HIC5 was: challenging, international, thrilling and above all: unforgettable! So thank you Henkel!

During the international finals in Warsaw, we learned randomly that another team (Italy) had the same innovative concept as we had! Just like us, their idea was a technological solution to absorb dust from the air. At the beginning, we freaked out to see that our solution wasn’t unique. Cherry on top, the Italian teammates were wearing blue outfits/accessories for the presentations, just like us! It turned out that even though we shared the same solution, our marketing, pricing and brand strategies were way different. The product design was also different. But we really enjoyed their presentation and we liked how their concept differed from ours! This experience was also revealing: the fact that 2 teams at this stage of competition had the same ideas proves that there is a real potential behind this innovation, right?"

The Winners 2010/2011 from Poland

“We loved the idea of inventing a product that is going to revolutionize people’s lives in the future. Especially that at the same time it wasn’t only creativity that mattered but also the way of showing that the concept could really work in terms of doing business. We had to prove that our product will bring added value for both: consumers and Henkel. Moreover, we thought such a competition could be great fun and a wonderful experience from which we can learn a lot. And HIC was all that – a great deal of joy, incredible people, but also very hard work and a valuable lesson on not giving up, striving to find the best solution, being ahead of the others with your ideas and the most important, working as a team.
We were inspired by our everyday life. Making laundry, drying and ironing are always nightmares for many people .That is why we thought of a solution that would make people’s life easier and be eco-friendly at the same. Thanks to the help of our mentors from Henkel Poland, we were able to come up with a very innovative idea that was also very strong in business terms!

We truly believe that our victory is strictly connected with the fact that we are close friends, who instinctively understand each other. Furthermore the fact, that we were focused on bringing on the best possible performance, from the very beginning. We always tried to think outside the box concerning not only our idea, but also the way of presenting it - everything to find a way to surprise the judges and convince them that our concept is coherent and well thought out – which finally brought us to the top!”

The winners 2009/2010 from Germany

Tim Brüggemann and Matthias Mittelsten Scheid

“When we applied for the Henkel Innovation Challenge we had no idea what high relevance this competition would take on for us.

The first hurdle was to develop a convincing idea. After a few brainstorming sessions our idea developed – our ticket to the Challenge. The biggest challenge, in the national as well as in the international final: to reduce our complex and detailed idea to the essential and explain it simple. Obviously we have found the right balance, because we could convince the international jury. And who knows – maybe one day we will really have the opportunity to put our idea into practice?

Retrospectively, not only because of our prize, we can say that the effort was worth it. We gained valuable experiences, had the chance to test our uni-gained knowledge, forged interesting ties to managers and students, got to know the great metropolis Amsterdam and: had a lot of fun!”

Bastian Steinbach

and his dutch team made it into the final of the Henkel Innovation Challenge 2009/2010.

“The Henkel Innovation Challenge was demanding since it not only required a high level of creativity but also strong analytical abilities to derive a coherent vision of the future. The competition provided us with the right stimulus, setting and support to become visionaries, pioneers and inventors. This intense experience also ensured that all participants formed strong bonds with each other and created a community that will transcend the setting of this business competition.

The entire experience from conceiving an idea to translating these ideas into financial numbers was very enriching, to a large part due to the excellent mentoring from Henkel managers who took the time and worked together with us. For everyone who is even remotely interested in his own future or the future of the world at large this challenge is an opportunity that cannot be missed.”

Beata Bogusz

from the second placed polish team of the Henkel Innovation Challenge 2009/2010.

“The final of the Henkel Innovation Challenge in Amsterdam was a very unique experience for me. On the one hand, the competition is a really big challenge: a couple of months of co-operation in the group, complex tasks, time pressure and presentations in front of professionals from different countries.

On the other hand, HIC is a great pleasure and amazing satisfaction! I really enjoyed the tasks: forecasting the trends in 2050, developing a product, preparing marketing plans and financial statements. That was very interesting. The opportunity to work together with a mentor during the international final was a great honor. The mentor, a high-level professional who knows the industry, supported us from the very beginning of the final. He pointed out the best part of our work; advised on what we should work on. His commitment was a very positive surprise for me.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to compare our work with teams representing other countries. Representing Poland was a great honor for our team. It is a big satisfaction to be among the top three teams. The final in Amsterdam proceeded in an incredible, friendly atmosphere. I wish I could participate in HIC again!”

The winning team 2008/2009 from the Netherlands

Marin Schuerman, Dorothea Sepopo Attiogbe, Wibe van de Vijver

“The Henkel Innovation Challenge was a great experience. Comprising of many different elements (presentation, negotiation etc) it was fun and challenging at the same time. It was all about creativity, analytical capability and determination to seal the deal.

We went in with an open mind no clue what to expect from the competition or Henkel. As the best teams from all over Europe were selected, the finals turned out to be a fierce match. The dedication of the Henkel employees to the mentoring program after the first round motivated our team to do our very best. We worked very hard and stayed up all night to prepare our final presentation. It was definitely worth it! We learned about the fast moving consumer goods industry first hand, improved our teamwork and presentation skills, and performed under pressure. Moreover, we managed to enjoy it all at the same time and even do some sight seeing in Brussels.

Two of us actually ended up doing an internship at the Henkel headquarters as the Innovation Challenge also proved to be a great place for networking with the Henkel management, which was well represented.

In sum, if you are looking for a business challenge, the Henkel Innovation Challenge is the way to go.“

Lara Spaan

from the third-place team from Belgium got a job offer as Junior Brand Manager after taking part in Henkel Innovation Challenge 2008/2009

“Think about the future… and start your future career at Henkel.

In the framework of the Henkel Innovation Challenge student groups have to think about how the world would look like in 2050. The purpose of the game is to adapt a Henkel product to the challenges it would meet at that time. (…)

That is where my story begins. My team, Triple Single, had the honors to go to the International Final in Brussels and meet up with teams from ten different countries. For three days we had to give presentations and adapt our product and marketing plan to the changing environment, like you would encounter in everyday business. It was an extremely interesting experience as you come into contact with the managers of the different countries and learn a lot from their experience.

Today, I work as a Junior Brand Manager for Henkel where I already feel like I am part of the Henkel family. I really feel that the values the company aspires are put into practice. Thinking about innovation and sustainability are part of everyday business at Henkel.

The Henkel Innovation Challenge was a really amazing, once in a lifetime experience, and it gave my career a boost. Don’t hesitate… just do it!“

Can Akbulut

from the third-place team 2008/2009 from Turkey, gained an internship after the competition

“The Henkel Innovation Challenge has touched my life in so many ways; all the way from the beginning till the end. I remember shooting our promotional video for the national finals on a rainy Istanbul day, and then editing it the entire night. At the national finals, we were thrilled by the tough competition and the innovative spirit. Luckily, we were able to impress Henkel Turkey and walk to the international finals.

I did the final presentation in the splendid Atomium and had a king size bed in a single 5-star hotel room. Working really hard, I think we definitely made all the comfort worth it!

What's more, I was able to have precious conversations with Henkel top managers. Ever since, I felt like a member of the team. And I met great people from all over Europe, and still do. Overall, I had such an amazing time, so it's no surprise I am back in Brussels now for a challenging internship. For me, the Henkel Innovation Challenge represents the milestone of moving on from school years to an exciting international career.

A big thank you to my team, the Cubers, Henkel Innovation Challenge team and everyone who made it an awesome experience.“

Sylvie Nicol

General Manager Beauty Care France

“Henkel Innovation Challenge gives the opportunity to students to get closer to one of the world's leading companies. Henkel managers support students to open the doors of this global company and gain valuable insights on its products, technologies and markets. Competing against students from all over the world and fighting for your innovative ideas will be an unforgettable experience.”

Guy Boone

Corporate Vice President, Head of Global SBU for Consumers and Craftsmen, Adhesive Technologies

“There is no better chance for students to get in touch with the diverse and fascinating world of Henkel products and adhesive technologies. I am very curious to see which out-of-the-box ideas will come out of this unique challenge. At the same time, students will get valuable support from our management to broaden their perspective and take their skills to the next level.”

Jean-Baptiste Santoul

General Manager Laundry & Home Care Benelux

“In the end all the participating students were winners.
Because they all gathered deep business experience and they got to know managers from an international company.”