Danke, Austria!

Photography By Lina Gan and ALPS

The Austrian Leadership Program (ALPS) brings together decision makers from around the world to spend a week in Austria in hopes of building long-lasting networks. Here’s our recap of a special alumni gathering in 2019.

With remarkable landscapes, historical cities, interesting architecture, culture and art, Austria has so much natural and cultural riches to offer. Many may know Austria as the home to great composers and artists such as Mozart, Strauß, Klimt and Schiele, whose legacies are woven into Austria’s rich heritage.

Austria is also the birthplace of famous brands such as Doppelmayr Cable Car, which connect mountains and ski resorts all over the world; PEZ, the world-famous miniature candy dispensers; Swarovski crystals and snow globes.

Each round of ALPS brings about 20 people to the capital, Vienna and another Austrian city that varies with the occasion. There were 12 ALPS between 2016 and 2019, including the first alumni gathering for those who had attended previous ALPS. From 250 ALPS invitees, only 15 were selected to participate in this first alumni trip. Our editor-in-chief was one of the lucky 15.

Taking place on 8-11 October 2019, the trip was kicked off with presentations on new business concepts by young professionals seeking investors at the CEE Business Angel Roadshow in Vienna. There were round-table discussions with multidisciplinary experts from economy and finance, AI and digitalization, environmental technology and smart city, education and politics, and creative industries.

Then, the Austrian Foreign Ministry (MFA) accompanied each participant to a one-on-one meeting with specific companies according to their interests. Our editor-in-chief met with Lilli Holliein, founder and curator of the Vienna Design Week; Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, director of the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK); Gerald Wirth, president of the Vienna Boys Choir; Bettina Gusenbauer and Doris Danzinger of ÖBB (Austrian Railway), a leading eco-friendly railway company in Europe.

Outside the meeting lounge, the group was given a private tour of the Hofburg, the official residence and workplace of the president of Austria, before tasting local delicacies.

The trip continued to Burgenland, a city famous for its Lake Neusiedl, which shares the border with Hungary. The group visited the Aviation Academy Austria and gear factory Zoerkler Gears GmbH & CO KG, but the highlight was the relaxing horse-carriage ride around the Neusiedlersee National Park.

After Burgenland, the tour returned to Vienna where the alumni trip concluded with a rare chance to meet our respective home country’s foreign ambassador to Austria.

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Lina Gan