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Dr. Stephanie Thomas

Head of the Applied Research Funding and Innovation Transfer unit | State Chancellery of Saarland

QX: Stephanie, after a long period at the Innovation and Strategy Unit of the State Chancellery of Saarland you are now the Head of the Applied Research Funding and Innovation Transfer unit. What are your specific tasks and the challenges you face in your new position?

Stephanie: I have a lot of enthusiasm for the combination of strategic and operational business. On the one hand, we are responsible for the innovation and technology strategy of Saarland, i.e., we compile key points for the technology policy and promote research and development projects at universities, research institutions, and companies in the Saarland until 2023. On the other hand, we also provide the necessary funding. We work out funding decisions for politics, supervise the development of the various organisations in their respective bodies, and are responsible for the approval and disbursement of the funds.

I always try to keep in mind that we spend the taxpayers’ money and therefore have great responsibility in our day to day activities. And it is important to me that we always remain open to possible changes and are able to decide on them pragmatically despite the very regulated environment.

QX: Your career path does not seem like an ordinary one. What are the most exciting differences between a career in the private sector and yours?

Stephanie: In my opinion, leadership in public service presents a particular challenge. Classical HR instruments such as incentive systems or individual compensation are hardly usable. In addition, there are not so many changes in the daily jobs of many employees over long periods of time. Developing and motivating a team in this environment is an exciting task.

I personally am motivated by developing the economical power of Saarland, my home, for the future. This allows me to use my energy for the benefit of many people. For me this implicates a “deeper meaning” which leaders working in the private sector may miss quite often.

QX: You have been a part of QX since 1997. If you would have to name the most essential value of QX differentiating it from other networks or social organizations, what would it be?

Stephanie: I am a member of QX since 1998. QX already existed in my life long before any other (digital) social networks and is therefore a reliable, real existing network that bases on friendship with individual members.

QX: The first “Golden Class” back in 2012 was a great haunting memory for “dino members” who have been participating since QX’s first steps. Currently we are planning a second edition of the “Golden Class”. What would you personally expect from this second edition?

Stephanie: In my early days as a student at QX, we were all “talents” or “potentials”. Our starting point was full of possibilities. Observing our development over time would be exciting for me. What has become of all these talents? Are we satisfied with our development and our lives? How have our values changed over time? And what motivates the present day talents? Can they in any way benefit from the experiences of the Golden Class?

QX: You are living in the German countryside near the French borderline. What keeps you in Saarbrücken and did you ever had the wish to break out and live in one of the world major business hubs like London, Paris, New York?

Stephanie: Home is where my heart is, and mine is in the Saarland. Saarbruecken offers an excellent ratio of cost to quality of life. This guarantees plenty of opportunities to travel to the rest of the world at any time.

QX: What is your Vanity?

Stephanie: I love discovering special places to visit. Whether it is a private beach house in Mauritius for a family vacation or an old hunting lodge in Belgium for a weekend with friends, I am always searching for places with tradition and an exceptional atmosphere.