Postcard from the Edge of an Institute

So imagine you are the founder of SAP and you turn 60. You have to have a party.. who would you invite and where would you have the party?

The question of where is easily solved, just south west of Berlin in Potsdam you have a established high tech school, an off-shoot to the University of Potsdam, called the Hasso Plattner Institute, that has an ideal lecture theatre for everyone to sit. The chairs, as is traditional in any academic institution, have been scientifically and ergonomically designed to be really uncomfortable after an average of 15 mins sitting time, so you can watch the people squirm as well – ideal.

But then who do you invite? Well me for a start. Upon my arrival and after gracefully descending from my chauffeured limo, about half the press photographers in Berlin gathered round. I waved pleasantly at them, but surprisingly no one took a photo.

Why were they there? Well, as Potsdam is just a stones throw from Berlin, a plethora of other personalities had also been invited. Firstly, the German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder. His office was only 20 mins way and there is enough room in Potsdam for an army of security guards. This unfortunately prevented me getting anywhere near him for a photo opportunity. After giving his speech, he left during a musical interlude, which had been requested specifically to make his exit as inconspicuous as possible. However, this backfired as the dire vocalist, singing show tunes with the lyrics modified about how much “we love Hasso”, made you cringe and look the other way – directly at Gerhard being ushered out by 4 Rambos in suits.

Daniel Libeskind was the next guest – architect of the World Trade Center replacement and of several other fantastic buildings, such as the Jewish museum in Berlin. Articulate, he described himself as “catapulted to fame by winning competitions.” Sabine Christiansen, not probably well known out side Germany, but basically an intellectual David Lettermann. She brilliantly moderated a panel on competitive spirit, with Hasso, Daniel, Juergen Weber (ex-Lufthansa CEO) and Jochen Schuermann (Olympic sailing champion), skillfully cutting them off in mid sentence when they got boring or a monologue threatened.

However, all in all an excellent party – very enjoyable. Happy Birthday Hasso.

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