Trees next to a high building

Our Chief Tomorrow Officers (CTOs) on a road trip

What was the highlight of our Chief Tomorrow Officers’ (CTOs) recent tour of the Jülich Research Center near Aachen, Germany? 

July 07 2022Nouran Elsherbiny

A center of scientific excellence

The Jülich Research Center’s campus — at 1.7 square kilometers — is so vast that our CTOs needed bikes to get around and meet some of its 7,000 researchers. In 2020 alone, the center submitted 68 new patent applications and published 2,473 scientific papers. The visit was particularly exciting because it coincided with the news that Jülich would soon become home to Europe's first supercomputer.

The exascale computer is set to surpass the threshold of one trillion calculations. The center will use it to help solve the urgent questions of our time, such as climate change, sustainable energy production, and combatting pandemics. 

How it all began

Group picture at the JSC

Deutsche Telekom (DT) knows that to understand the newest generation's ideas, values, needs, and visions, their presence at the company is crucial!

This belief sparked the Chief Tomorrow Officer (CTO) program, which launched in August 2021. The program’s purpose is to connect DT’s senior managers with the people who will help shape the future: Generation Z. The ‘Tomorrow Board’ of ambitious young people meet regularly to share knowledge and how they see the coming decades. Every CTO starts by asking a unique question for tomorrow. For example, something that might change how we think about the future or spark ideas that will help future-proof the world.

The role of the Chief Tomorrow Officers

Every Chief Tomorrow Officer has an entrepreneurial mindset and proposes an idea on how to solve a unique question of ‘tomorrow’. Their work involves collaborating with internal and external experts and tapping into Deutsche Telekom’s vast and diverse pool of subject matter experts. Once they have gathered enough information, they set out to answer their question with unique prototypes and solutions, which they present to the Tomorrow Board. The tomorrow board is a group of Gen Z that we treat as a focus group. We share the CTOs results with them and ask them to challenge our ideas and concepts and see if these ideas are feasible or not. These meetings act as lively focus groups when each CTO is challenged to show if their assumptions are on the right track!

The regular meetings of the tomorrow board allow everyone to explore some hypothetical questions and update the group on how recent innovations and ideas are performing in practice. For these reasons, the CTOs don’t confine themselves to online meetings or within company walls. They convene at other stimulating places like universities and research centers, and trips and events are regular fixtures in their calendars. Engaging with academia and industry helps inspire them and gives them the confidence to share innovations for the future. Seeing other genuinely breath-taking innovations in action is essential. It allows them to get beyond the theory and visualize how they can realize their own inventions. 

T-Systems c-suite continues to be amazed by all the new and innovative ideas the CTO program unlocks.

Nouran Elsherbiny, Chief Tomorrow Officer Program Manager

A tour of the Jülich Research Center

JSC Group Picture

A not-for-profit institute, the Jülich Research Center is one of the largest scientific research centers in Europe, with over 7,000 people working in its dynamic, international environment. Research fields include artificial intelligence, cell biology, and neuroscience. Scientists can draw on an extraordinary range of instruments and collaborate with their peers, who represent some of the world’s finest minds. 

To explore the enormous campus, the Tomorrow Board had a bike tour of the different places and enjoyed many opportunities to ask questions. A highlight was the center’s supercomputers, including the news of Europe’s first exascale computer - JUPITER. These computers are among the most powerful in the world. For instance, some supercomputers can simulate a complete human brain with its approximately one hundred billion nerve cells. The researchers also create virtual 3D worlds from vast datasets to make recommendations on vital topics like alternative energy sources to reduce the effects of climate change.

At the end of the tour, the Tomorrow Board was exhilarated by many of the breath-taking science projects at the Jülich Research Center, which continues to spark discussions and ideas. 

A model for other companies?

T-Systems c-suite continues to be amazed by all the new and innovative ideas the CTO program unlocks. Its senior management team discovered that many 18-year-olds already have incredibly well-developed ideas. Unlike past generations, they know it is crucial to give them a voice and listen to them. Why? Because if young people feel heard, are empowered, and not frustrated by restrictions and repetitive tasks, they can be gold for every forward-looking company.

At T-Systems, the CTO program is helping to prepare the company right now for an extraordinary future. By recognizing and empowering Gen Z, we can future-proof ourselves as individuals and continue to be a leading company.

About the author

Nouran Elsherbiny

Chief Tomorrow Officer Program Manager, Deutsche Telekom

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