When Kampmann embarked on its Kampus training programme in November 2012, in many respects it entered new territory – both internally as well as across all industries.
A HVAC-specific technical seminar in the dressing room of the Mainz 05-football club? We asked Kampus Director Ingo Lübken whether this new territory was initially rather soft underfoot or whether he quickly found a sure footing.
The Kampus is already in its fourth year. You have been Director of Kampmann’s continuing education programme from the outset. How has Kampus developed?
Very positively! It has to be said that we have not just been offering training courses and seminars for four years – but prior to that they were purely product-based events that we did not offer publicly. We really started Kampus training four years ago initially with a relatively small programme. However, the feedback was so positive that we quickly extended the offering. So, today we have more training courses and event venues, a wider range of topics and more speakers. Did the feedback meet your expectations? It more than met them. We started on a small scale to see how customers would respond to our offering. There’s nothing like it in our industry – certainly manufacturers offer product training. But the concept of the Kampus was new and we did not know how it would be accepted. Fortunately, there is a massive demand. Many of our attendees travel from quite far away.
"The stimulating environment helps people to assimilate the content."
From the very outset, you also held the seminars in unique venues, for instance in a Bundesliga football stadium or in a small theatre. Is this a concept you wish to pursue?
Undoubtedly! We started Kampus with a stadium tour during which we visited 13 Bundesliga stadiums to hold seminars there. In Mainz, for example, the seminar was held in the first team professionals’ dressing room. The seminars we held in airports were equally exciting. We have held several seminars in the Berlin's infamous BER airport, which is always a strange experience. This year we held a seminar in Hannover Airport, where we also have the opportunity to look around the engineering departments. They are of interest to the attendees on account of their size alone.
Seminars held at such unique event values are surely booked up in no time at all?
This is definitely true – but sometime there can be odd reservations. If an employee in interested in a seminar like this and goes to ask his boss, sometimes the boss might dismiss it as a ‘bit of a jolly’. The opposite is actually true! The stimulating environment and real-life venue have a positive effect and help the attendees to assimilate the content.
What was the most extraordinary thing that has happened at a seminar?
We experienced a police exercise in the Hamburg stadium. A "rioter" was to be removed from the crowd. There were lots of extras and it felt very real with firecrackers and a lot of shouting. A seminar held in Cologne's stadium was almost more interesting when we saw the complete pitch being re-laid while we were there: from a bare pitch in the morning to lush green grass by the end of the seminar.
The seminars are also held at conventional venues. On what basis do you ‘sell’ the seminars?
The same holds true for seminars in airports or stadiums: we delivery expert knowledge from the manufacturer's mind. What is more, our seminars are not product or brand-based, but topic-related. We provide basic HVAC seminars, but also provide training on the VDI 6022 Hygiene Directive, changes to standards, energy efficiency, building automation, cooling systems. . We also hold courses on project management and employee motivation – a really wide range of courses that provide participants with real support in their day-to-day business. Many of these seminars are recognised by architects' and engineers' associations as well as by the German Energy Agency DENA. That means that you can earn continuing education credits from our courses. Another important selling point is that we also offer project-related training courses.
What does that mean in specific terms?
Here's an example: We were in the ADAC headquarters in Munich – an impressive building. But far more important than that: the seminar participants learn everything there is to know about the building services – which units were installed where and how they are all controlled. Being able to see and touch the systems achieves a much higher success rate that merely seeing the building services concept on PowerPoint slides. Especially as the ADAC headquarters' technical staff were on hand to provide information and answer questions. You simply could not get much closer to projects. We did the same at the LVM Insurance headquarters in Münster, where they have installed a very innovative, extremely energy-efficient air conditioning concept in their new administrative high-rise building. Here, once again, the seminar attendees were able to examine the entire building including its building services technology. We even held a seminar in the Elbe Philharmonic Hall where the general contractor Hochtief explained the entire building concept to us. Highly entertaining!
You’re not just the Director of the Kampus programme but also double as a speaker at certain venues. Which do you prefer: organising or speaking?
It’s hard to say. I am a graduate engineer and am interested by nature in engineering, everything we speak about. And my work as a speaker makes me continue to deal more intensively with technical matters. Therefore, I really enjoy speaking. At the same time, managing the Kampus gives me massive creative freedom. Essentially designing a seminar concept virtually from scratch, was and continues to be a fulfilling task.
You are on the road a lot. How many days a year are you "on the road"?
It certainly takes up around half of my entire working life. But I see a lot, get to know interesting people –- I wouldn't miss it for the world.
Apart from fixed technical seminars, you also offer individual training courses. To whom are they directed?
Often, potential interested parties have special training needs, which are not covered by one of our regular seminars. Or the timing of one of our regular seminars does not work. Sometimes, the entire team in a company is to be trained. Our customised training programmes adapt to the needs of our customers – in terms of topic as well as timing and location. In short: we also deliver in-house seminars. The range of individual training courses is also the Kampus area that is growing most strongly.
Are Kampus speakers all Kampmann employees?
Many are. But not all. We are supported by external speakers for specific topics. For example, we have one seminar that covers warranty and guarantee issues in building services – essentially a legal issue. This seminar is led by a specialist lawyer. We also have external specialists for training about the latest cooling load calculation standard VDI 2078 and other topics. But for the most part, all speakers are Kampmann employees. And that’s precisely how it should be – ultimately we can tap into a great pool of knowledge and communicate it further.
Your employees are, by their nature, outstanding air conditioning professionals. But that does not mean that they are good speakers at the same time. How are your speakers prepared for their work?
We are currently training new speakers as we wish to further expand our training programme. First and foremost, it is crucial that the speaker is engrossing to be able to teach the subject with real conviction. And then we will naturally train him in advance in terms of rhetoric, dealing with audio-visual equipment and so on. The great added value for the seminar participants is not so much that the speaker is a great entertainer, but that he works in the industry and can report genuinely on day to day business.
Is there is a subject area you would like to delete or re-establish?
We are constantly working on new seminars and align ourselves to current needs, for instance if there are new or adapted standards or legislation, like the Ecodesign Directive or the Hygiene Directive. However, we are also looking to attract other target groups. We are currently developing a seminar that communicates the fundamental basics of air conditioning technology to commercial employees so that they can deal with the technical jargon in their everyday work.
Regardless of money and feasibility: where would you like to organise a seminar?
I am an avid skier – as far as you can claim that as a North German – and I would be thrilled to organise seminar on the Zugspitze mountain. With spectacular views over the alpine panorama during the training course followed by a descent on skis. It’s not that infeasible – who knows where the Kampus programme will take us…
Picture credits: Zugspitze © Kauk0r – CC BY-SA 3.0