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Mar 17, 2015  Düsseldorf / Germany

Interview with a Henkel Innovation Challenge mentor

“We’re ready for Vienna!”

On April 8, the final of the 8th Henkel Innovation Challenge (HIC) begins in Vienna. Talented young students from 28 countries will compete against each other, each team supported by a Henkel mentor. Maria Zographou, a Junior Manager in the International Marketing of the Laundry & Home Care business unit, mentored the winning team #yellowINNO in the German semi-final. Find out how Maria coached her team to success!

The two finalists from Germany with their Henkel mentor Maria Zographou.

The two finalists from Germany with their Henkel mentor Maria Zographou.

Your team won the German semi-final in Düsseldorf a few weeks ago. Has the success sunk in yet?
I am very excited and proud of my team’s success. All of the HIC participants had great, well-presented ideas which made the challenge very difficult – and the victory even sweeter.

How is your team preparing for the HIC final in Vienna, and how will you be supporting them?
At the end of the semi-final the team received valuable constructive feedback from the jury. Using this feedback, we outlined the next steps for optimizing the presentation, so that the team is fully prepared for the final in Vienna. I try to view the presentation as a project that I would present to top management and to anticipate likely questions. That way, I can give my team feedback in order to make their presentation clear, easy to understand, and relevant for Henkel.

What is most important to you as a mentor?
It’s a pleasure to work with the #yellowINNO team because both students are highly motivated and willing to listen and learn. They also have a very good understanding of marketing and can put logical arguments for their idea together. This is a very important combination, and it makes our collaboration really enjoyable.

How has working together with young talents influenced your work on a professional level?
Working with young talents has taught me to think big and to be brave. The #yellowINNO students really dared to think outside the box with their product idea, and their passion while presenting really surprised both me and the jury.

What advice would you give your team for the upcoming final?
I’d tell them to be themselves and enjoy it! The HIC final is a great opportunity for them to present their idea, connect with Henkel top managers, and get to know the company better. They should take full advantage of the opportunity.

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???gallery.open.slideshow??? Semi-finalists in Algeria

The finalists for Vienna have been decided: Click through the picture gallery to see HIC competitors from around the globe (pictured: Semi-finalists in Algeria).

???gallery.open.slideshow??? Two participants from Saudi Arabia won in the Gulf region

Two participants from Saudi Arabia won in the Gulf region.

???gallery.open.slideshow??? Winners from Poland with their Henkel mentor

Winners from Poland with their Henkel mentor (right).

???gallery.open.slideshow??? Semi-finalists from Turkey

Semi-finalists from Turkey competed for a ticket to Vienna.

???gallery.open.slideshow??? The Austrian team

Will the Austrian team make use of their home team advantage?

???gallery.open.slideshow??? The winning team from Hungary with Henkel management

The winning team from Hungary with Henkel management

Additional Information