Episode 01: Leadership Advice from Dr. Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Past Director General at CERN
Have you ever questioned the very nature of existence? Have you wondered how it all started and what secrets the universe holds? For most of us, these matters are beyond our comprehension. And yet, these are questions scientists at CERN – the world’s leading research body for particle physics – are currently exploring.
Dr. Heuer discusses with host Dr. Katrina Burrus the experiences and challenges to which he now attributes his successful leadership and achievements within the scientific community.
- To what do you attribute your leadership success?
“Nobody knows everything, so you have to listen to the experts. But the experts don’t all agree, so you need to make a synthesis and take responsibility if it goes wrong.”
- What competencies do you need to gather funds in an economic downturn?
“One need diplomacy and communication. Acknowledging there are problems, acknowledging that we understand the problems. Trying to find common solutions. Personal contact. Transparency. Openness. And most importantly, trust.”
- What is the predominant culture at CERN?
“Competition. Because science without competition is not science. But this competition also comes with cooperation.”
Who is Rolf-Dieter Heuer?
Dr. Heuer studied physics at the University of Stuttgart. He then obtained his PhD in 1977 at the University of Heidelberg under Joachim Heintze.
His post-doc studies include the JADE experiment at the electron-positron storage ring PETRA at DESY, and from 1984, at the OPAL experiment at CERN, where he also became a spokesperson of the OPAL collaboration for many years. Having been offered a full professorship for experimental physics at the University of Hamburg, Heuer returned to DESY in 1998. In 2004, he was appointed DESY’s Research Director. In December 2007, the CERN research council announced that Heuer will take office as CERN’s Director General starting 1 January 2009.
Tune in to find out what else this renowned scientist-leader has to say.
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