“Hey, you! Yes, you! May I sit with you? Yes? Great! Let me ask you a question: When does the CDTM journey start? Is it in the moment of the application, the interview, the confirmation you were accepted? Is it the kick-off weekend where you get to know your inspiring and lovely peers? Let me tell you: Opinions may vary, but the moment where you certainly know it has started is in the Trend Seminar when the project partner is unveiled, and the new class knows what they are going to spend the days (and nights) of the upcoming seven weeks on. Now it is serious!

I recall the class’s tension at the very beginning of our batch Spring 2019. The expectations were high. On the kick-off weekend, our Center Assistants (CAs) running the CDTM have promised something big, and we could not gather more intel. No matter how hard we tried, no matter how often we raised our glasses at the party – both our CA Philipps(es) mouths remained shut.

Once our project partner was unveiled, we were baffled. We were going to work for a real hidden champion. The company employs close to 20,000 people worldwide and has an annual turnover of about four billion euro. Yet, no one of us had heard about the agriculture engineering supplier, that goes by the name of “Gesellschaft für Entstaubungsanlagen” – GEA, headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany, and listed in the German MDAX index.

Consecutively, our class went all in for the next weeks of the research phase. We audited lectures from industry experts and knowledgeable lecturers who taught us necessary research skills. Additionally, we visited a dairy farm to experience the dairy industry on site. All this to answer the questions: What are the current trends in the dairy sector? How will those trends shape the industry? How significant is each trend’s impact and what are its drivers? Drivers, drivers, drivers … Oh no, I said what should not be named.

A crucial part of the research phase is the classes decision on the key drivers with high impact but highly uncertain outcomes on the dairy industry. Those we needed to identify and agree upon. A task that is much easier said than done. Initially, the discussion was scheduled for one day and supposed to end at eight; at 1 a.m. we did a hard cut but only after agreeing that we would meet again in the next morning at 7:30 a.m. to finalize the discussion and to stay within the trend seminar schedule. My, due to long evenings spent researching, already sleep-deprived self began to question my sanity.

After a thorough, three-hour-long good-nights-sleep I was at the CDTM, again. And until today angels sing of the marvel that we somehow managed to decide upon the key drivers on time to dive deep into the development of future scenarios at 9 a.m. In the subsequent days, the daily workload was declining, and we could recover, but the word driver or driver-discussion still triggers mild post-traumatic-stress in most of my classmates and me.

The last part of trend seminar consists of developing business models. Based on the insights we generated in the weeks before, we were separated into small groups. There, we were putting all our efforts into ideation, always holding the expectation to ourselves to not only increment the industry but to disrupt the whole sector.

Did we manage to do that? Spoiler: Probably not – but we were close.

Stop! Rewind! Where was I?

Ah, ideation. After each team has generated a long list of ideas, we were presenting the 25 best ones to GEA´s management on-site at the CDTM. They picked 5 we should refine, create a corporate identity for and pitch on the final session of our Trend Seminar.

“Oh boy, we had some great ideas on how to empower farmers in developing countries, to connect veterinarians with the livestock, and on how to increase the logistics in the industry. But thanks to my peers I now also know how to take care of our ladies (the cows – I mean), and how to save the day when there is too much manure”.

Yes, that’s it! It’s done, finished. GEA really liked our ideas and presentations. We had a “legenDAIRY” after-party, cleaned the center on time, and that is the story of our Trend Seminar.

Except it’s far from over! The trend report has to be laid-out, printed and we just began our MPD, the second core course at CDTM.

Maybe the Trend Seminar itself was just the beginning? Or this whole thing is rolling since ever? Perhaps the years beforehand that shaped you as a person are already a part of the journey. But what am I telling and asking you? I am no philosopher. I am no old man, no white-bearded, ever-discussing Socrates. I want to have an impact, I want to challenge, innovate and change! This is certainly just a beginning! Go now, I got things to do; or join along?”

During the trend seminar we were given numerous Input lectures from industry experts to deep dive into the field of dairy production.

During our breaks we utilized the CDTM’s kitchen for cooking and when the work was done for drinks.

During our discussion about what the key drivers of the future of the dairy industries are we often were not having consensus – even at half past twelve.

I loved every bit of our trend seminar experience. Next to all the professional skills we gathered, we first and foremost got to know an inspiring set of likeminded, ambitious, and most importantly fun people.