Game Changers

Game Changer Profile

Sebastian Herzog, Co-Creator & Chief Strategist, Lufthansa Innovation Hub

Sebastian Herzog, Co-Creator & Chief Strategist at Lufthansa Innovation Hub Read insights

Sebastian Herzog constantly moves between corporate culture and startup spirit. Herzog has more than 10 years of work experience within Lufthansa, including being the former executive assistant to the CEO of Lufthansa Group, while also founding his own fashion ecommerce startup OfficePunk.

In 2014, Herzog finally bridged both worlds by becoming a true corporate entrepreneur, initiating and founding the Lufthansa Innovation Hub jointly with internal and external top talents as a separate legal entity. Asked about the focus fields of the Lufthansa Innovation Hub, Herzog explains that he is not a believer in focusing on specific trends or technologies. “If you really want to change things, you have to focus on a specific customer,” he says. “Innovation starts with empathy and only with understanding the needs of a customer, one will be able to derive real improvements and innovations. In that sense, our only focus is the traveler and his or her needs. In an exaggerated way, I would say, 'customer interest beats company interest.’”

One very concrete example is the pain of travelers having to check-in for their flights manually. Instead of supporting the Lufthansa core business with state of the art self-check in solutions, the Lufthansa Innovation Hub built www.airlinecheckins.com-- an industry-wide solution that allows travelers to be checked automatically for more than 100 airlines based on their preferences. Herzog says, “While it might sound contra-intuitive in the beginning, we are now learning a lot about the traveler behavior when they use other airlines than Lufthansa. And of course, this knowledge helps Lufthansa as well.”

Herzog is also advising and consulting other corporates on the topics of digital transformation and corporate entrepreneurship. He adds, “Regardless of the industry I am working for, they all struggle on how to cope with the incredible speed and rate of change out there. That is why corporations such as Lufthansa can fully exploit the full potential of an Innovation Hub by setting it up as a second operating system of the corporate that runs with a different speed, based on different talents and framed with a different set of budgeting rules. If you then develop the right links to the mothership – Innovation Hubs can become a major driver of commercial and strategic impact.”

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