Verena Pausder is considered one of the most famous faces of the start-up scene. She is an expert in digital education, founder of Fox & Sheep and Haba digital workshops. In 2016 she was named a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum. In 2018, the US business magazine Forbes included it in the “Europe’s Top Women In Tech” list. The Handelsblatt and BCG named her the thought leader 2020.
Personal-Financial.com: The question of how things will continue after the Corona crisis is being discussed a lot. One draft would be the new country. What does this country look like?
VERENA PAUSDER: The new country is actually a metaphor for rethinking old beliefs and tackling new issues. So how can we be together for something instead of against something? How can we come up with solutions instead of just describing the problems? With the New Land we mean a mindset in which we encourage and encourage each other less. But it is also meant physically in that we think of it in all areas. It should give us the chance to see this crisis in such a way that we don’t spend our energy on rebuilding yesterday, but rather on changing something that we have wanted to change for a long time.
What failures did the crisis reveal?
The biggest omission is digitization. This can then be transferred to different areas, be it education or the health system or administration. Corona is certainly the biggest digitalization push that this country could have imagined – and that it needed so urgently. Because we have the knowledge, but we haven’t implemented enough so far. Corona is there like a magnifying glass. We see these problems, they affect us directly, and we recognize their urgency and importance – and this is new.
Why is Germany so slow when it comes to digitization when its opportunities have long been known?
I am not sure if we can agree that digitization is an opportunity. I believe that those who belong to the supposed elite may know that digitization can make many people’s lives better. But we haven’t done a good job with it for the most part. You can draw very positive pictures of the future and clearly state what digitization stands for or you can leave it to a storm of buzzwords that overwhelms even people who deal a lot with the topic.
So does digitization have an image problem in Germany?
Total, although the image problem sounds like it just needs to be presented differently. But digitization is one of the greatest upheavals of this time. And when you are in the eye of the storm in such a phase, then it is also clear that this change does not always feel good. For many this means saying goodbye to what they know. That is why you have to be sensitive to people’s fears, but by making it easier to understand what it is actually about.
The pandemic also shows how quickly things change. What positive developments has Corona brought about?
First and foremost one has to mention the school and the school system. Even before Corona, we had the major disadvantage that we did not reach many children because they did not have the right infrastructure at home or because their teachers were not properly trained. As bad as that was, Corona has led to the fact that we now have a much greater sense of how big the gap between rich and poor already is and how much bigger it can get. So it’s actually a negative experience, but it has a positive effect. Because suddenly the Chancellor is taking care of the digitization of our schools.
Now that the problems are recognized. What are the next steps now?
In a nutshell, three steps would be particularly important: helping with the distribution of the funds from the digital pact for the digitization of schools, greater centralization of the school cloud in terms of organization and not content, and further training for teachers at work, so that they can deal with the situation.
How quickly will this be implemented?
It will be a big board. We are probably talking about one of the biggest decisions in our country because it affects so many people. But maybe that’s the life’s work at least for my generation to drill this board. And if politics cannot do this alone, then it is our task to support them and find solutions together. If Corona has done one thing, it is that we have noticed: In the end, it’s our country. And we can choose to take it forward or we can put up with being left behind.