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‘Tec Matters’: New ‘IT Circle’ Group Launched

Following a successful pilot, the global IT talent management program “IT Circle” has entered its next round. 22 senior IT managers from across all divisions and several countries recently began their 24-month learning journey in Gütersloh and Rietberg. Under the heading “Tec Matters,” the program’s first module focused on how Bertelsmann's digital businesses have developed in recent years, what future challenges are expected, and how IT can support them in mastering these challenges. The second module will follow in September.

Bertelsmann CFO Bernd Hirsch and Bertelsmann Chief Information Officer Tom Linckens opened the three-day event by welcoming the participants. “We need you, with your technical expertise and innovative ideas, in order to lead Bertelsmann into the digital future,” Hirsch told them. In his opinion, the establishment of active global IT communities plays a key role here. He said that the IT community in peoplenet’s “Jam” section, with currently more than 1,400 globally active members, is – just like those in HR and finance – an excellent example of how a new form of collaboration and knowledge-sharing between Bertelsmann divisions can be promoted. “Take advantage of the opportunities offered to you by the IT community and the IT Circle, for tangible results and joint, cross-divisional projects,” urged the CFO.

Leading Bertelsmann into the digital future

Tom Linckens then gave an overview of the strategic initiatives that are being or have already been implemented in close cooperation between Corporate IT and the divisions. The CIO noted that much has changed since the Corporate IT department was established at the end of 2014, and cited the worldwide consolidation of networks, the joint sourcing of IT services, and the systematic promotion of knowledge and experience sharing between business units as examples of the extensive range of achievements. “If we look ahead to 2021 today,” Linckens continued, “we not only want to have made Bertelsmann's technical infrastructure fit for the future, but above all to also have made a proactive contribution to technical innovation. To achieve this, we need employees who actively contribute their knowledge, think outside the box, and are excited about the future.”

Challenges of the digital transformation

The participants then began a technical discussion moderated by Heiko Roehl, a University of Freiburg professor and author of many specialist books on the subject of organization and change management. In a “challenge mapping” session, they worked in groups on the challenges facing Bertelsmann, its divisions, and their respective teams in connection with the changes brought about by the digital transformation. They quickly identified universally shared topics such as managing change, balancing innovation and business success, strengthening the Bertelsmann brand, establishing reliable partnerships within the Group and with external partners, introducing agile organizational structures, and waging the “war for talent.”

As with the first group of this module, a regular strategic discourse with Bertelsmann's IT Board is also on the IT Circle agenda for the second group. The Bertelsmann IT Board, headed by Bertelsmann CIO Tom Linckens, is made up of Bertelsmann’s divisional CIOs and other representatives from Arvato Systems and the Corporate IT leadership team. The participants formulated challenging questions for the Board members, which were discussed on the second day. Among other things, the participants wanted to know how the Board strengthens innovation or deals with the different requirements of businesses and markets in its decision-making. “It was a very lively discussion at a strategically high level with a lot of valuable input for the IT Board members,” says Thomas Umlauf, Vice President Roadmap Coordination & Transformation at Bertelsmann Corporate IT.

Valuable input

The second day of the event ended with Kay Krafft, CEO of the Education Group, giving a vivid account of his experience in developing a new line of business at Bertelsmann. He expressed his firm belief that the future of learning is digital. Day Three was dedicated to an exchange of views on the participants’ current projects and personal challenges.

“The IT Circle’s second group once shows again how much potential Bertelsmann already has in the area of IT,” concludes Tom Linckens. “I very much look forward to working closely with this group over the next two years.”

In September, the IT Circle will meet in Barcelona at the ESADE business school for the second module, “Shape the future.”

The IT Circle is a two-year global talent management program specifically designed in close collaboration between Thomas Umlauf from Corporate IT and Antje Dräger from Bertelsmann University, for the purpose of developing IT managers.

Dräger and Umlauf will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the IT Circle: Please contact them by email at or

Further information on the IT Circle can be found on the program page. (benet)