Female entrepreneur 2010 - Alexandra Knauer, Prix Veuve Clicquot
The ’’Prix Veuve Clicquot - female entrepreneur of the year in Germany’’ award was created in 1972 and has been awarded 37 times to women worldwide. In Germany, the award has existed since 1984. The prize was created by Veuve Clicquot in 1972 to honor Madame Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, the successful mastermind of the renowned house of Champagne. The prize is now awarded in 18 countries worldwide to business women for their entrepreneurial enthusiasm, their courage, their willingness to take risks and their outstanding achievements. These attributes accounted for the entrepreneurial success of the widow Clicquot in the 19th century, when she successfully built the foundation of today's world brand.
This year's ceremony had a special focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR), a priority topic for the famous house of Champagne. CSR also plays an important role at KNAUER. Holistic commitment to society and the company's staff is central to all her activities. Concerning the products, perfect separation results, best quality, and longevity are highly appreciated by customers in Germany and abroad. The 44-year-old businesswoman Alexandra Knauer manages the Berlin based company with more than 100 employees together with Managing director Dr. Alexander Bünz, developing and manufacturing high-tech chemical analysis equipment for science and research. KNAUER is the oldest German manufacturer of osmometers and HPLC systems, and exports its instruments to 70 countries. The liquid chromatography equipment is used in laboratories of universities, in pharmaceutical and chemical research, in clinical laboratories, in environmental tests (for instance, trace amounts of pollutants such as pesticides can be detected) and for quality control of food and beverages such as wine, beer, juices.
Alexandra Knauer and her business
KNAUER celebrates its 48th anniversary on October 1, 2010. Alexandra Knauer, who is a master of business administration became General Manager in 1995 and since 2000 the sole owner of the company. She successfully faced the challenge to continue a long tradition and at the same time develop new ideas and products which can stand up to the highly competitive international market for laboratory equipment, such as UHPLC systems or new high resolution glass columns for biochromatography.
The jury acknowledged that Alexandra Knauer developed the family-owned business which wasn't very competitive at that time to a modern internationally competitive company by following a path of small changes and perserverance. She was not confined to the economic aspect of modernization, but also set the course for social and environmental development in a sustainable way. The laboratory instrument industry is a male-dominated environment and a highly competitive market, in which Ms. Knauer operates very successfully and shows above-average social and environmental commitment. The high proportion of women in this innovative company is particularly impressive, being an inspiring example for women in scientific and engineering professions.
A successful concept
An important part of success is the diversity in the composition of the workforce. This doesn't only mean a variety of skills (50% of the workforce own an academic degree), but also in generations and cultures. Alexandra Knauer simply says: ’’It's all in the mix.’’ A combination of change and continuity in the company is important to her. To remain competitive and to enjoy working at the same time, great value is put on continuous education and training, innovation and good ideas are encouraged. an excellent working atmosphere.
Child friendly: The winner, a mother of a seven-year-old daughter and a ten-year-old son tries to provide employees with children the necessary support to enable them to combine work and family. This means for example the payment of a birth premium or partial payment of Kindergarten costs. Fathers also readily use the possibility of parental leave. In 2009 a lovingly designed ’’children's room’’ was made available in the company, where parents in need can put their children. Employees offer themselves voluntarily to take care of the children by the hour. This is a ’’child care service’’ from colleagues for colleagues. This room is just one of many examples in the redesign of the house and of processes at KNAUER enacted under the leitmotif of ’’CSR’’.
Environmentally friendly: Furthermore, the complete modernization of the production building in Berlin Zehlendorf with thermal insulation, new windows, and green roof reflects the pursuit of an environmentally friendly strategy, as do the use of green electricity and eco-paper.
Employee friendly: The garden on the premises of KNAUER is a place for employees to find recreation and inspiration. Depending on the season, employees can enjoy strawberries, fruit and salad from the KNAUER garden. Health and happiness are very important for a good working environment. In-house cooking events where employees cook for fellow colleagues take place on a regular basis, and free sports courses are offered. Providing employees with information about the sales and profit development of the company on a regular basis and sharing of the annual earnings are further measures to involve the employees into the company's success.
Dedicated: Mrs. Knauer is highly socially committed, both professionally and private. Support of Caritas, Bread for the World, Plan International are just some of the local and international relief efforts.
Equality of women is a major concern for Alexandra Knauer. In this context, the company regularly takes part in the so called ’’Girls' Day’’ to inspire female students to get involved in technical and so far rather typical male professions. encourages women from diverse industries to become self-employed, or to take over the parents' business.
Mrs. Knauer is a member of the board of trustees of the Federal Institute for Materials Research (BAM) in Berlin, the Economic Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Berlin Merchants, and is a founding member and advisory board member of the Association Berlin-Southwest.
The intention of the ’’Prix Veuve Clicquot’’
Just as Mrs. Knauer, more women in Germany shall be able to succeed in leading a company with creativity, knowledge, power and perseverance. Although in today's German economy many female executives can be found, the latest figures are not yet satisfactory: although in Germany nearly 45% of the workforce are women, the proportion of females in leading positions is only 11%, and in the top management only 4%. Women in comparable positions still earn about 25% less than men.
This is the aim of the ’’Prix Veuve Clicquot - female entrepreneur of the year’’. offers the female entrepreneurs a platform for new contacts to the market, the media, opinion leaders, potential new customers and employees and to the general public. Each winner takes part in an international meeting held every autumn in Reims (France), where all the ladies, awarded with the ’’Prix Veuve Clicquot’’ since 1972 meet for private and professional exchange forming a global network. As a token of appreciation, a vine is dedicated for each winner on the vineyard ’’La Grande Dame’’. Alexandra Knauer becomes a member of the ’’Circle des Amis de la Veuve’’. KNAUER, Berlin
Date of message: 05/04/2010, 1379 words
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