interviews Martina Violetta Jung (53) who completed legal studies in Germany and China with a PhD degree. She formerly worked as a M&A Lawyer, Managing Director, CEO, Non-Executive Director and Leadership Advisor. She left these positions and titles behind to enhance people’s perspective on the meaning of career, power, money and the responsibility that comes with it with poems, stories and corresponding watercolor portraits. We talk with her about trends in the market and her last book: “Durchschaut – Worte im Maßanzug”. 

Is Management and our business culture at a turning point?

Yes definitely! We get more and more aware and confronted with all the consequences of our way of doing business, especially in the last decades. Until recently, we had one eye open for what we could gain and one eye closed for the consequences we preferred to ignore. Business today has degenerated into a pure money making game. The price is paid by suppliers, employees (from middle managers downwards), societies and nature. Owners, shareholders and top-managers need to refocus on serving people and planet with their activities rather than serving themselves first and foremost.

Doing global business successfully in a time of constant new technologies, shrinking natural resources, natural disasters leaving millions in need, on the run and seeking refuge plus increasing poverty even among the most wealthy nations, can only be solved by inclusion and cooperation instead of selfishness and competition. We realize this clearly when we look at the “America First” approach taken by the current President of the USA. But if we are honest with ourselves, then we know that this is the operating mode of our businesses as well. Shareholders and Top-Managers first. We must change our perspective and measure in our balance sheets and annual reports a 360° responsibility for all the consequences we create in doing business. If we keep kidding ourselves, like we do now, far greater will come.

Martina Violetta Jung 1 KölnWhat are the main difference between a classical Manager from Deutsche Telekom compared to the CEO of a young and digital company like Twitter?
The Telekom Manager is making money in a known industry and prefers a feeling of a somehow stable and secure environment that evolves at a steady pace. The young digital manager works to have an immediate impact. He or she prefers shape shifting industries, with a lot less hierarchical structures and meaningless rules or culture from the past. Whether  the Telekom or Twitter Managers makes the world a better place to live does not depend on their industry and its task. It rather depends on the maturity of their personality and the awareness that each problem solved creates a new one.

What do you think about feminism in business?
It is a necessary movement until half of the world’s population has equal rights, opportunities and benefits of being a human being and can bring its own talents and wisdom to the table when it comes to shaping the future of humanity.

How do women influence in the current business world and culture?
We females are experts in giving life, nurturing and preserving it – physically and emotionally. That is exactly what we need now. Women who live out these skills in their managerial and leadership roles have a profound impact on our businesses. They make them sustainable and long-term successful.

How did Business culture and you as a Top Manager change in the last 20 years?
I started off as a female applying solely male logic and strategies as an M&A lawyer. As the Managing Director of Hapag-Lloyd Belgium (container liner shipping) it struck me that too few were benefitting from what the company achieved and many (without a voice to be heard) paid a price that was either ignored or sourced out to society. I felt ashamed and an urge to do better. More and more I allowed my heart to play a balancing role in my decision making. I listened to all involved, weighted the consequences for all, both logically and empathically.

What do you want to achieve with your business poems, stories and paintings?
I want to engage business people’s hearts and minds for the hidden possibilities and beauties in our day-to-day work and in our definition of what business is for. I want to help shaping the world into a common home for all. Each of us creates a legacy by all the lives we touch everyday knowingly, but even more so unknowingly. If we move closer to one another, include everyone, if we focus on caring and sharing, then we as a human race have a good future.

Do you think Angela Merkel is a good leader?
Angela Merkel
is able to think things through to the end far better than most and combines that with an open and warm heart. She gets the bigger picture and acts accordingly. During the refugee crises two years ago, she has been able to see and feel the suffering of the individuals instead of focusing on money and numbers only. Until that happened, we Germans were respected for our technical products, working attitude, reliability and donating money, but not for our human touch by other heads of state or nations. Thanks to her farsightedness, we got applauded for in the UN and that will add a new dimension of appreciation to our possibilities (not only) as a business partner in most countries in the world. It’s not about overpowering, it’s about walking in the others one’s shoes with empathy.


Does she help women with her politics and leaderships?
She does, but I would like her to move things further and faster, like imposing a quota for women in decisions making positions in companies.

So you are in favor of a legally fixed female participation in Management?
Some 15 years ago, I wasn’t. I became a Managing Director age 35 and a CEO not yet 40 without a quota. It was only later that I learned how women are kept small and, unfortunately, keep themselves small. From my point of view, we need a 50% quota for women in both management and supervisory boards. I don’t take the point of view that there are not enough women available qualified for that. On the one hand, most men I met in these positions are not suitable for the tasks and challenges they face. On the other hand, women have the additional skills we need now in abundance. Just stop measuring women by men’s standards alone.

Is there a difference between Europe and America in matters of management and the participation of women in management?
US companies are even more driven by numbers than over here in Europe. There are more women in CEO positions of major companies in the US and because they are visible, we tend to think that the US is a better place for women to make a career. But according to my experience, that is not true if you look at all management levels. And if we look at the Scandinavian countries, we see more women on the top level and their children taken care for. I attribute that to the fact that the Scandinavian nations are more equal societies than most EU nations.

Martina Jung Business PoetCan you give 10 advices to women and men in Business!
Sure, let’s see whether I can do that in a poem:

  1. Seek meaning in what you do for a living. Live by your values, that’s tremendous giving.
  2. Knowing, growing, nurturing your talent means joyful walking. It takes 10.000 hours before you get really good at something.
  3. Success builds on daily routine. Applause is a short-term caffeine.
  4. Never compare your inner life to outer symbols of someone else’s strife.
  5. Formulate your very own expectations, others will send you in wrong directions.
  6. If something planned goes bloody wrong, a blessing sings you a redirecting song.
  7. Asking is the beginning of receiving, don’t go to the ocean just for breathing.
  8. Inspiration doesn’t descend like a lightning bolt, it comes through a grounded body’s throat.
  9. Where thoughts go, your energy goes as well, let a quiet mind your career propel.
  10. See your life and work with awe and wonder, nature and God guide you, don’t ponder.