Jens Horstmann



Founding Director and Executive Producer at Crestlight Venture Productions

Jens Horstmann has 30 years of executive, technology and engineering experience in Silicon Valley and global High Tech industries. He is the founding Director and Executive Producer at Crestlight Venture Productions, a full service firm and venture fund. He served as VP of Entertainment Technology of NCR Corp. and advises other Fortune 500 companies. Previously, he was CTO, president and CEO of DVDPlay, the creator of Redbox’s original technology. Mr. Horstmann has invested in numerous start-ups, serves on several boards including Canadian’s Acceleware (TSE:AXE) and manages MXGO, an intellectual property licensing firm. He founded B2B solution provider Ensemble Solutions in the mid 1990s, was CEO of Open Grid, an early location based services pioneer and lectured at UC Berkeley. His prior experience includes senior engineering, research and development positions at Sun Microsystems, Siemens, LSI Logic’s Systems Research Laboratory, and X1 Corporation. He lives with his family in Silicon Valley and is an avid pilot.

Martin Schäfer

Martin SchaeferMartin Schäfer, Global Governmental Affairs and Issue Management Agricultural Solutions at BASF. At BASF, we create chemistry for a sustainable future. The more than 115,000 employees in the BASF Group work on contributing to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. Our portfolio is organized into five segments: Chemicals, Performance Products, Functional Materials & Solutions, Agricultural Solutions and Oil & Gas.

Daniel Zimmer


General Manager and Head of HanaHaus

Daniel Zimmer relocated from Germany to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2013. He is the General Manager and Head of HanaHaus, SAP’s first startup workspace cafe located in Palo Alto. Established in 2015, HanaHaus connects the next generation of innovators to the ecosystem of entrepreneurs, investors, students and researchers by providing an inspiring, state-of-the-art meeting environment. In addition, Daniel is part of the leadership team at the SAP Innovation Center in Palo Alto.
Prior to this role, Daniel was responsible for social media marketing and community events at SAP Startup Focus, a startup accelerator program for B2B companies who innovate on the SAP HANA technology.
Daniel holds two Masters Degrees from the Johannes-Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany where he focused on American Studies and Geography. He was born in Idar-Oberstein and used to live in the Frankfurt Rhein Main region before he moved to the U.S..
Daniel is passionate about the startup environment in the Silicon Valley, he likes to work on his vintage cars and explores the beauty of California through road trips. Together with his wife, Daniel lives in the Castro neighborhood in San Francisco and commutes to work in Palo Alto.

Peter Federman

Peter Stanley Federman is a doctoral student in public administration at the University of Kansas, having previously received his B.A. from Tufts University and his M.P.A. from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY. His research considers questions of bureaucracy and democracy, including how administrative officials and elected politicians make decisions that impact the public. He brings expertise in bureaucratic politics, executive decision-making, and digital dashboards to the Track Trump project and sees this dashboard as an important and necessary tool of accountability in a democratic society.

Maica Gil

Organizer of the SF International Women Entrepreneurs Forum
Co-Founder at Heroikka

Maica’s extensive experience in entrepreneurshipgovernment and non-profits, has helped her create a platform for diverse international organizations to collaborate, share resources and give visibility to various projects and initiatives, start-ups and businesses specific to women at the SF International Women Entrepreneurs Forum.

As Co-Founder at Heroikka, Maica is passionate and committed to closing the gap by connecting women-led projects, funding and support systems around the world.

She is also on the Board of Directors for the “Association of American European Chambers of Commerce and Business Associations” and Co- Founder of the California – Spain Chamber of Commerce.

Arndt Peltner

* July 19th 1968


Since 09/96 Freelance correspondent for German and Swiss radio and newspapers (i.e. SWR, DeutschlandRadio, SRF, Nürnberger Zeitung). Covering events in the US, but also in conflict and post-conflict regions.

Since 11/96 Founder, producer and host of Radio Goethe,
a music show on currently 40 stations in the USA, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Poland.

From 9/01 to 06/10, producer and host of Radio Goethe Magazine,
a news magazine show with support of the German Federal Government.

From 03/05 to 08/14, producer and host for the Lufthansa Inflight program “Country”.


Media Award, Stiftung Weltbevölkerung, 2016
Marler Medienpreis of amnesty international, 2012
RIAS Berlin Radio Award, 2011
Merit of Order of Germany, 2004
Silver Reel Award of the NFCB, 2004
Radio Award of the BLM (Bavaria), 1997

Janina Rumker

Regulatory and Clinical Affairs Manager of PROSYSTEM AG

Studied Biomedical Engineering at University of Applied Sciences Hamburg with focus on medical device technology. Her professional focus is on clinical evaluations as well as clinical investigations. She has been author and co-author of a wide range of clinical evaluation reports, following the requirements of the MEDDEV 2.7.1 guideline. Moreover, as a mentor and trainer she imparts her knowledge at different conferences and seminars.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Stefan Kowalewski


Professor for Embedded Software at RWTH Aachen University

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Stefan Kowalewski is full professor for embedded software at RWTH Aachen University. He received a Dipl.-Ing. degree in electrical engineering from Karlsruhe University, Germany, and a Dr.-Ing. and a habilitation degree in control and safety engineerig both from Dortmund University, Germany. From 2000-2003 he was researcher and group manager in the Corporate Research and Advanced Engineering division of Robert Bosch GmbH, Frankfurt, Germany, working in the area of automotive software engineering. Prof. Kowalewski was chairman of the technical committee “Cyber Physical Systems” of the German Society on Measurement and Automation (VDI/VDE-GMA) and head of the steering board of the technical committee “Automotive Software Engineering”, German Society for Computer Science (GI) until last year. His research interests are in software and systems engineering for embedded and cyber-physical systems, in particular formal methods for program analysis and synthesis, design and validation of safe and reliable systems, and model-based control software design. For his teaching in embedded software, he received the Informatics Europe Curriculum Award 2012.

Ronald Grasman


Senior Manager, U.S. Fuel Cell Vehicle Operations, Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America, Inc. (MBRDNA)

Ronald is heading the North American Fuel Cell Operations of Mercedes-Benz. He relocated from MBRDNA’s mother company Daimler AG in January 2013, where he was responsible for managing the Mercedes-Benz fuel cell and battery electric vehicle demonstration projects from 2007-2012. Ronald began his career with Daimler AG in 1996 as a Powertrain Engineer and has since then held various engineering and management positions within the company before moving into the field of powertrain electrification, hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles.

He holds a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and in addition earned an MBA from the European School of Business at Reutlingen University (ESB).

Ronald lives in Redondo Beach, CA with his wife and their daughter and son.

Howard Schmidt


Retired Cybersecurity Adviser for both President G.W. Bush and
President Barak Obama

Partner Ridge Schmidt Cyber LLC

Howard A. Schmidt, CISSP, CSSLP. Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator. Honorable Howard A. Schmidt has had a long distinguished career in defense, law enforcement, and corporate security spanning more than 40 years. He brings together talents in business, defense, intelligence, law enforcement, privacy, academia and international relations through his distinguished career. He currently is Special Assistant to the President and the Cybersecurity Coordinator for the federal government. In this role Mr. Schmidt is responsible for coordinating interagency Cybersecurity policy development and implementation and for coordinating engagement with federal, state, local, international, and private sector Cybersecurity partners.

Previously, Mr. Schmidt was the President and CEO of the Information Security Forum (ISF). Before ISF, he served as Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer and Chief Security Strategist for eBay Inc., and formerly operated as the Chief Security Officer for Microsoft Corp. He also served as Chief Security Strategist for the US-CERT Partners Program for the Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. Schmidt also bring to bear over 26 years of military service. Beginning active duty with the Air Force, he later joined the Arizona Air National Guard. With the AF he served in a number of military and civilian roles culminating as Supervisory Special Agent with the Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). He finished his last 12 years as an Army Reserve Special Agent with Criminal Investigation Division’s (CID) Computer Crime Unit, all while serving over a decade as police officer with the Chandler Police Department.

Mr. Schmidt holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration (BSBA) and a master’s degree in organizational management (MAOM) from the University of Phoenix. He also holds an Honorary Doctorate degree in Humane Letters. Howard was an Adjunct Professor at GA Tech, GTISC, Professor of Research at Idaho State University and Adjunct Distinguished Fellow with Carnegie Mellon’s CyLab and a Distinguished Fellow of the Ponemon Privacy Institute.

Howard is a Ham Radio operator (W7HAS), a private pilot, outdoorsman and an avid Harley-Davidson rider. He is married to Rosemarie J. Schmidt, a forensic scientist and researcher and instructor in the field of computer forensics. Together, they are proud parents, and happy grandparents.

Kurt Roemer


Chief Security Strategist
Citrix Systems

Kurt Roemer is Chief Security Strategist for Citrix Systems. Kurt Roemer leads the security, compliance, risk and privacy strategies for Citrix products. As a member of the Citrix CTO Office, Mr. Roemer drives ideation, innovation and technical direction for products and solutions that advance business productivity while ensuring information governance. An information services veteran with more than 20 years’ experience, Mr. Roemer’s credentials include the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) designation, he served as Commissioner for the US public-sector CLOUD2 initiative, and he led efforts to develop the PCI Security Standards Council Virtualization Guidance Information Supplement for the payment card industry while serving on the Board of Advisors. Mr. Roemer regularly contributes his expertise on security-related topics in global online, print and broadcast media.

Joerg Borchert


Vice President
Infineon Technologies

Joerg Borchert is Vice President of Chip Card & Security ICs for Infineon Technologies North America Corp.

Born in Hamburg, Germany, Borchert studied Mechanical Engineering and Business Administration at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, then achieved his PhD in Economics before he joined Siemens AG in 1988. In 1992 he joined Siemens Semiconductor which became Infineon Technologies in 1999. A US resident since 1998, Borchert now leads a team working on chip-based security for the smart grid and mission critical embedded systems. Along the way, he contributed to four patent filings in this area and was instrumental in the implementation of smart cards for payment applications and the U.S. electronic Passport program.

Since 2011 he leads the Trusted Computing Group as President and Chairman. The Trusted Computing Group (TCG) is a not-for-profit organization formed to develop, define and promote open, vendor-neutral, global industry standards, supportive of a hardware-based root of trust, for interoperable trusted computing platforms.

Norbert Pohlmann


Professor and Director, Institute for Internet Security
Chairman, TeleTrusT – IT Security Association Germany

Norbert Pohlmann studied Electrical Engineering, specialized in Computer Science in Aachen, and has written his doctoral thesis on “Possibilities and Limitations of Firewall Systems”.

He was founder and Managing Director at the start-up company KryptoKom. After the merger with Utimaco Safeware AG he was a member of the Utimaco Safeware AG management board from 1999 to 2003.

Since 2003 Norbert Pohlmann has been a Professor in the Computer Science Department for distributed systems and information security and since 2005 he is director of the Institute for Internet Security – if(is) at the Westphalia University of Applied Sciences Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

He is a founding member of the IT Security Association TeleTrusT, which is devoted to the establishment of trusted IT networks and systems, and has been a member of its board since 1994 and chairman of the board since April 1998.

In 1997 Norbert Pohlmann won the city of Aachen’s Prize for Innovation and Technology.

For five years he was a member of the Permanent Stakeholders’ Group of the ENISA (European Network and Information Security Agency).
He is a member of the academic council of the Association for Data Protection and Data Security: GDD. He is also a member of advisory board of the ISP Association eco which is the largest ISP Association in Europe. Norbert Pohlmann is also a member of the steering board: Task Force IT Security from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

In 2011 he was Professor of the year in the category Computer and Engineering Sciences.

Numerous publications, lectures and seminars on the subject of information security testify his expertise and commitment to this subject.

From March to June 2013 Norbert Pohlmann will be Visiting Professor at Stanford University, Department of Computer Science.

Dr. Kim Nguyen


Managing Director, GmbH/D-Trust GmbH
Chief Scientist Security, Bundesdruckerei GmbH

Dr. Kim Nguyen studied mathematics and physics at the universities of Göttingen (Germany) and Cambridge (UK) and received a Ph.D. in mathematics for his work on the relation be-tween classical number theory and cryptographic security of elliptic curves. After two years with Phillips Semiconductors working as a cryptographer, he joined the German Federal Print (Bundesdruckerei) in 2003. Here he was responsible for the topics of cryptographic and chip security as well as infrastructure aspects in the ePassport and eID projects in Germany. Since 2012 he is responsible for all technical security topics within Bundesdruckerei as Chief Scientist Security. In Juni 2012 he additionally took over the position of Managing Director of D-Trust, the trust center of Bundesdruckerei.

Dan Levinson


Venture Financing Professional
Comerica Bank

Dan Levinson is a venture financing professional at Comerica Bank’s Technology & Life Science group. Prior to joining Comerica, Dan was managing Israel’s Bank Leumi operations in Silicon Valley. Prior to Leumi, Dan was financing technology companies in Israel, both as a lender in two Israeli banks, and on the equity side at a Private Equity fund and at a Venture Capital fund.
Dan holds a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Arizona State University and an MBA from Tel-Aviv University.

Andreas Bechtolsheim

Andy Bechtolsheim

Chairman and Chief Development Officer of Arista Networks

Andreas Bechtolsheim is Chairman and Chief Development Officer of Arista Networks. Andy cofounded Arista Networks to deliver scalable and robust cloud networking solutions for very large-scale data centers and high-performance computing environments.

Previously, Andy was a Co-Founder and Chief System Architect at Sun Microsystems, responsible for next generation server, storage, and network architectures. From 1995 to 1996, Andy was the President and CEO of Granite Systems, a Gigabit Ethernet Switching startup company he founded in 1995 that Cisco acquired in September 1996. From 1996 to 2003 Andy was General Manager for the Cisco Gigabit Systems Business Unit that developed the Catalyst 4K switch family, which became the highest volume modular switching platform in the industry.

Throughout his career, Andy has been involved as a venture investor in the funding of numerous companies including Google, VMware, Mellanox, Brocade, and Magma Design. He has served on the Board of Directors of more than 30 companies, the majority of which went public or were acquired. Andy earned a M.S. in Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1976. He was a doctoral student in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University from 1977 to 1982. He has been honored with a Fulbright scholarship, a German Studienstiftung scholarship, the Stanford Entrepreneur Company of the year award, the Smithsonian Leadership Award for Innovation, and he is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Gerhard Casper

President Emeritus of Stanford University

Gerhard Casper is President Emeritus of Stanford University and a Senior Fellow at both the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI Stanford) and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR). He is also the Peter and Helen Bing Professor, Emeritus, Professor of Law, Emeritus, and Professor of Political Science (by courtesy), Emeritus. From July 2015 to July 2016, he served as President (ad interim) of the American Academy in Berlin.

Born in 1937, Gerhard Casper grew up in Hamburg, Germany. Mr. Casper studied law at the universities of Freiburg and Hamburg, where, in 1961, he earned his first law degree. He attended Yale Law School, obtaining his Master of Laws degree in 1962. He then returned to Freiburg, where he received his doctorate in 1964.

Hartmut Esslinger

Co-Founder and long-time CEO of global innovation firm Frog Design

Hartmut Esslinger was the first designer to bring human-driven, high-touch design to world of complex hardware and software technology. Business Week, who featured him on the cover in 1990, called him the most influential American industrial designer since the 1930s and the first Superstar of High-Tech Design.

In 1969, at age 25, Hartmut Esslinger founded frog design in Germany and expanded the company to the United States in 1982. Together with his wife and business partner Patricia Roller he created the world’s most prominent and successful strategic design agency. In 2005, frog design was sold to venture backed Flextronics, and eventually to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., and Hartmut Esslinger and Patricia Roller remained investors. Today, frog design employs about 400 strategists, designers and technology specialists in numerous studios around the world.

For the last 38 years, Hartmut Esslinger has worked with some of the most prestigious global companies. For example, he helped companies such as Sony, Apple, Louis Vuitton, SAP, Lufthansa and Microsoft to convert their technological competences and entrepreneurial desire into emotionally appealing global brands.

Hartmut also engages in educating and mentoring young designers. He is a founding professor of the Hochschule fuer Gestaltung (College for Design) in Karlsruhe, Germany, was a professor for convergent industrial design at the University for Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria (2006 – 2011), and is a professor for strategic design and innovation at Fudan/SIVA University in Shanghai (since 2011). He received an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts from the Parson New School of Design, New York (1994) as well as various lifetime achievement awards around the world.

Michael J. Beckman


VP/Head of Hydrogen Fueling & Industrial Applications
Linde LLC

Mike graduated from West Point with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, then served 5 years in the US Army, leading a Combat Heavy Engineer Company as the Executive Officer during Desert Storm.  After graduating from the University of Michigan Business School with a MBA, he joined Linde where he held positions in Field Engineering, Sales, Business Planning, and Product Management before leading the Western Region as the Regional VP.  In 2009 he began leading the hydrogen fueling team for Linde in the US.  Mike has recently relocated to Linde’s US head office in NJ, where he continues to head Linde’s efforts for hydrogen fueling, while also managing a new team responsible for industrial applications.

Patricia Roller

Co-Founder of Frog Design and Strategic Advisor

Patricia Roller is a pioneer in the integration of design, technology and business. She was born in Germany where she studied languages before coming to the United States in 1984.

As former Co-CEO of frog design, a global design and strategy firm, she brought a creative and hands-on leadership style to managing major accounts in sectors ranging from hi-tech, entertainment, medical, mobile services and automotive. This included working with global companies such as Apple, HP, Motorola, Lufthansa, Disney’s consumer electronics division and Siemens.

She is currently the CEO of Vidlet, Inc., an innovative video management and mobile SaaS solution. Patricia has served as director on the boards of BlinkTwice and Jimmy Jane, has been an advisor to Flextronics and is an active investor in design-driven technology and telecommunications startup companies

Patricia speaks frequently on innovation, entrepreneurship and venture capital as a guest lecturer at UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon and Fudan/SIVA University in China.

Larry Haddad

Global Chief Marketing Manager

Vehicle Information Technology Division
Nissan Motor Co., LTD
Sunnyvale California

Nationality:  American

Larry is an automotive veteran, with over 17 years experience in connected car marketing.

In 2012, Larry was appointed Global Chief Marketing Manager – Vehicle Information Division, Nissan Motor Corporation. He is responsible for delighting customers by creating a stress free and intuitive customer experience along every touch point of the customer journey, from discovery through repurchase for the Nissan, Infiniti and Datsun sales channels. In this role he also manages world-wide digital marketing, promotion and co-marketing strategies for connected cars.

From 2006 to 2012 Larry was General Manager Product Strategy and Planning for Nissan and Infiniti channels at Nissan Europe in Paris and Nissan International in Geneva.  In this role, he was responsible for Strategy and Planning for Nissan in Europe, Russia, Africa, the Middle East and India.

Larry has championed the introduction of several iconic technologies introduced by Nissan Motor Corporation.  His most recent accomplishments include the introduction of NissanConnect; an affordable navigation and connectivity device that is the industry leading in-vehicle navigation product for B and C segment vehicles.

For the demanding Infiniti customers who have a passion for inspired performance, Larry championed the introduction of Infiniti InTouch, Dynamic Safety Shield and the award winning Around View Monitor.

For electric vehicle drivers, Larry championed the introduction of NissanConnect powered by CARWINGS; an award winning in-vehicle infotainment system designed to meet the unique product needs of electric vehicle drivers.  The CARWINGS system was awarded the Mobile world Congress Global Mobile Awards 2011 prize for the “Best Mobile Innovation for Automotive and Transport”.

From 1997 to 2006, Larry was responsible for Product and Marketing strategy in Nissan North America.

From 1993 to 1996, Larry worked on Pan-European Business Strategy projects for Nissan Europe in Amsterdam as Nissan prepared its European operations for the European Monetary Union.

Before his first assignment in Europe, Larry worked in Sales and Marketing for Nissan, Infiniti and Ford Motor Company in the United States.

Larry has a passion for studying consumer behavior, ethnology and technical trends to create innovative products that meet the needs of a diverse group of worldwide vehicle buyers.

Larry has a Master of Business Administration degree from the College of William and Mary and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Delaware.

Sebastian Thrun

Sebastian Thrun

CEO of Udacity

Born in Solingen, Sebastian Thrun grew up in Hildesheim. He attended the University of Hildesheim and the University of Bonn, where he earned a MSc and then PhD in Computer Science. Thrun moved to the US in 1995, joining the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University.

Sebastian Thrun is the CEO of Udacity, a company with the mission to democratize higher education. Previously, he was a Google Fellow and the founder of Google X, and a Stanford professor of computer science and electrical engineering. Thrun has published over 350 papers and 11 books. He has founded 2 technology companies (both acquired). He led the Stanford team that won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, and at Google he co-developed Google Streetview and the Google Self-Driving Car. In 2007, Thrun was elected into the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

Thrun is also known for his scholarly work on probabilistic robotics and machine learning. Thrun has been honored by the Max Planck Award, the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award, the 99u Alva Award, the Ed Feigenbaum Prize. Foreign Policy names him Global Thinker #4, Fast Magazine the Fifth most creative person in business. Thrun was elected into the National Academy of Engineering at Age 39.

Caroline Raynaud

Caroline Raynaud

Executive Director – CEO

Caroline Raynaud is GABA’s President and General Manager since April 2005. Caroline has been working in international sales and business development for over 10 years. She grew up in Germany and finished her graduate studies in the United States at University of Illinois. Then she spent 5 years in Paris and worked as a European Key Account Manager for Computer Intelligence. Being perfectly fluent in German, French and English, she was responsible for the company’s major clients across Europe. In 1999, Caroline moved from Paris to California and started with Market Research leader IDC (International Data Corporation) being in charge of International Business Development. She consulted US based companies that wanted to expand to Europe and Asia. Later on, she took on the role as Sales Manager for IDC’s Enterprise Major Accounts group.Caroline received her education in business from University of Technology in Berlin and University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign.

Michaela Ballek

Michaela Ballek

Business Development Director

Michaela Ballek joined GABA as the Business Development Director in March 2019 (part-time). Michaela moved between Germany and the Bay Area several times and has 15+ years of experience in consulting and program management, primarily in technology, innovation, and sustainability. When she is not interacting with GABA members, she works as an independent consultant in the Bay Area.

Previously, Michaela worked as a Practice Manager at McKinsey & Company as well as for small consulting firms. She holds an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, as well as a Masters in Statistics from Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany. She lives with her husband and teenage children in Berkeley.

Steffen Bartschat

Steffen Bartschat

Innovation Industry Group

CEO and Founder of Hill88

Steffen Bartschat is CEO/Founder of Hill88. At Hill88, Steffen helps corporates plug into the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem and helps startups scale to sustainability. His primary focus are consumer-targeted products spanning industries that include automotive, education, software, electronics and wearables. Steffen holds BS & MS degrees from Carnegie Mellon, and an MS in Business Management from Stanford Business School.

Stefanie Bastian


GABA  Director
Women in Business Interest Group

Before being appointed to the GABA board of directors, Stefanie served GABA for four and a half years. First as event manager, then as program and marketing director, she helped shape the face of GABA to becoming the successful and welcoming networking platform it is today. Stefanie holds a master’s degree in communications from the Berlin University of the Arts, that she has applied to many different fields of work – from film license acquisition in Mexico City, to script consulting and planning of film pitches and workshops for different start-ups in Berlin. She was also part of the founding team of the new Youth section for the Berlin Film Festival. Stefanie has since ventured out into the world of mobile publishing and is in charge of the German edition of the News and Magazine App Flipboard and is still following her passion for film as a board member of the Berlin and Beyond Film Festival in San Francisco.

Angelika Blendstrup, Ph.D.

Angelika Blendstrup

International Industry Group

Principal & Founder of Angelika Blendstrup & Associates

Angelika Blendstrup, Ph.D. is the founder and principal of Angelika Blendstrup & Associates,
As of January 2014, she is also Founding Partner & Chief Entrepreneur Evangelist of SV LATAM Fund located in Silicon Valley, investing in Latin American startups; Founding Partner & Chief Entrepreneur Evangelist, ZFunction University, Latin America’s Tech Entrepreneurship Program in SV.

She holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University and a Master’s from UC Berkeley. In addition to English, Angelika speaks and teaches in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German. Angelika coaches international executives and entrepreneurs on US business communications in Silicon Valley and delivers classes at Stanford University’s Continuing Studies, Haas Business School and UCLA Anderson School of Management on US business communications, personal branding and US business presentations.

Angelika is the author of They Made It! – featuring interviews with major foreign-born leaders of Silicon Valley, and co-author of Communicating the American Way.

She mentors @ 500 Startups, Up West labs [Israeli accelerator] and is mentor and advisor at Brazil Innovators, Endeavor, SiliconHouse and Startup Embassy.

Yvonne Dietrich


Event Director

Yvonne Dietrich joins GABA as the new Event Director in September 2015. Yvonne has worked as in the past with various Non-Profit Organizations as well as a Contracts Coordinator in the video gaming industry. She grew up in Germany and has been living with her husband and family around the Bay Area and Michigan since 1999. At GABA she will focus on organizing various GABA events.

Florian Brody

Media & Entertainment Industry Group

Brody & Partners

Florian Brody is an international marketing executive and digital media specialist with over 25 years’ experience. He works as a certified life coach and a startup business mentor in the Silicon Valley and internationally. He has been working for over 20 years in the Silicon Valley and co-founded four companies. Brody is a digital media pioneer and  developed digital media strategies for start-ups and Fortune500 companies, among them Apple, Ciba-Geigy Novartis, Kodak, and Philips. Brody has been teaching digital media theory and business management for over 30 years. He held the first chair for multimedia at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences and was a member of the graduate faculty of Art Center College of Design, Pasadena CA and lecturer at the Universidad de Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. He is an adjunct professor at the Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences in Saxonia-Anhalt, Germany and a senior instructor at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria. He is a certified Integral Coach®, holds a certification from the International Coach Federation and is a master practitioner at the Mentor Bureau. Brody has been serving as co-chair for media and entertainment at GABA for over ten years and is a past Vice President of the ICF Bay Area Chapter and founding president of ASCIA. Brody is published in multiple languages and a keynote speaker at international conferences.

Tim Bussiek, Ph.D.

Software Industry Group

An economist turned marketeer, Dr. Tim Bussiek has over 20 years experience in enterprise software, holding executive positions as CMO, CTO and VP Products at a number of startups, as well as serving 12 years in leading roles within SAP’s Product Marketing and Business Development, covering applications such as Supplier Relationship Management (SRM), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Business Intelligence, Employee Self-Services, composite applications (xApps) and SAP HANA. As such, Tim has been a key driver and visionary in Silicon Valley’s evolution of e-commerce, service-oriented architecture (SOA), cloud management, data and analytics and user experience technologies and their adoption in advanced enterprise settings.

E.J. Dieterle

E.J. Dieterle

Human Resources Industry Group

President & CEO, YES Partners

E.J. is the President & CEO of YES Partners, a global Executive Search Firm. He helps building and growing companies in Europe, Asia and North America by helping companies to find their Management Teams. He held positions as SVP for the US-Northeast-Region and MD(ManagingDirector) Japan, MD South Korea and MD UK. He has been responsible for operations of 270 staff. EJ managed the operation of projects for Hewlett-Packard, lectured at the ‘Japan Market-Entry Competition’ in Tokyo (Chambers-of-Commerce from Europe, USA and Canada), and presents in Europe and Asia about “Market-Entry USA” strategies.

His native language is German, but he also speaks English, Spanish, French and can communicate in Japanese. EJ has a MBA and is an Alumni with IMD (Lausanne/Switzerland) and the New York World Trade Center on International Trade, and has a degree from the German Chamber of Commerce.

EJ is a member with NACD (National Association of Corporate Directors), SVASE, a Chair for HR (Human Resources) with GABA, Churchill Club, IBDN, World Affairs Council, KASE & KIN (Korea IT Network), Japan Society, JCCNC (Japanese Chamber of Commerce), and serves as a Director for World Service with Rotary International. He is also a Board-director of WCL.

Wolfram Doelker

Wolfram Doelker

GABA Director
Southern California Chapter Chair

Co-founder of GABA’s Southern California Chapter
Treasurer until 2012, Chairman since 2013

With 25 years experience in taking businesses global, his consulting practice focuses on market entry into the US and Europe. Services include business presence, market entry, start-up and project management, as well as temporary CEO, COO, CFO and business services. Prior to founding WDE in 1998, he managed the successful globalization of a European based company from an $80 Mio business in 4 countries to a $400 Mio business in 19 countries. For 8 years based out of Europe and 7 years out of the US, he negotiated and successfully integrated over 20 acquisitions, started businesses from scratch, negotiated joint ventures, developed licensing and franchise programs and managed business units in Europe, Asia and North America.As a certified banker, he started his career in banking and finance in Stuttgart, Germany and Chicago, ILA graduate in Business Economics of the University of Saarbruecken, Germany, he earned his MBA from Union Graduate College in Schenectady, New York.

He served and serves on a number of corporate Boards of US subsidiaries, as Chairman of an Industry Association of Plastic Manufacturers in Germany, the Board of German American Schools, the International Advisory Council of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation and the German American Business Association of Southern California.

Olaf Groth

Olaf Groth

Clean Technology Industry Group

CEO, Emergent Frontiers Group LLC

Olaf is Managing Director of Emergent Frontiers Group LLC, which counsels senior corporate executives, private equity investors and government officials on global innovation trends, strategy, ecosystems and transactions. As such, he has a particular focus on convergence spaces in which infocomms and big data intersect with energy, environment, transportation and infrastructure domains.

Olaf is also Global Professor of Strategy, Innovation, Management & Economics at HULT International Business School, where he teaches across a global network of campuses, including San Francisco, New York, London, Dubai and Shanghai. Employing interactive executive-style techniques that address real-world challenges in the classroom, he recently earned the distinction of Professor-of-the-Year in San Francisco and Top-5 Professor globally.

Olaf has 20 years of experience in full-time, interim executive and advisory roles for corporate, business, market, operations and venture development, as well as government relations. He has helped qualify, negotiate and stand up new initiatives and programs in 30+ countries with opportunity between $100M to $2billion. Employers and clients have included AirTouch, Bechtel, Boeing, Qualcomm, Q.Cells, Siemens, Vodafone, Volkswagen, a global oil and gas corporation, transportation technology and crowdcasting startups, and a Silicon Valley VC firm.

Olaf has been a judge for the GE ecomagination challenge, a contributor to the World Economic Forum Project on Europe’s Innovation-Driven Competitiveness 2.0, a Senior Fellow for innovation at Tufts University’s Institute for Business in Global Context, and a Fellow for competitiveness at Grenoble Ecole de Management. He is a Co-Chair for innovation ecosystems at the Corporate Innovators Huddle and for the Energy & Environment Committee at the Pacific Council on International Policy, an Advisory Board member of the Pacific Cities Sustainability Initiative, as well as a member of the Research Council of the Bay Area Economics Institute.

Olaf holds PhD, MALD, MAIPS and BA degrees in international business & economic relations and technology policy & management from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and the Monterey Institute of International Studies of Middlebury College. He also studied negotiation at Harvard, trade economics at Georgetown, finance at UC Berkeley and strategic leadership at the Center for Creative Leadership.

Oliver Hanisch

Oliver Hanisch

Entrepreneurs & Venture Capital Industry Group

Oliver is an entrepreneurial minded marketing and business development professional with extensive experience in international and intercultural environments. Oliver was born and raised in Germany, and lived and worked in Sweden, Bangkok, and Silicon Valley. He founded his first company at the age of twenty, and worked with global companies, such as Siemens and Merck. Oliver has spent more than 2 years with Red Herring and advises numerous international startups. He graduated from Pforzheim University of Applied Science in Germany, and received his Master’s Degree with Distinction from CTF Research Center at Karlstad Universitet in Sweden.

Achim Hoelzle

Achim Hoelzle

Media & Entertainment Industry Group

Attorney-at-Law at FeldbergPacific Law Group

Mr. Hoelzle is the founding partner of Feldberg Pacific Law Group, a boutique law firm in San Francisco, CA. His firm specializes in representing German and U.S. clients in Start-up Company, VC, cross-border M&A, and licensing matters. His clients benefit greatly from his vast network of contacts in the technology, media, solar and venture capital industries in Europe and the U.S. Mr. Hoelzle is admitted to practice law in California and Germany and has over 14 years of experience in advising clients in corporate and technology transactions in Germany and the U.S. Prior to founding Feldberg Pacific Law Group he was a senior attorney with Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison in Palo Alto, CA.

Gunther Hofmann

Gunther Hofmann

Financial Committee Chair
Entrepreneurs & VC IG Co-Chair

Director at Armanino LLP

Gunther Hofmann (CFA, CVA, CEPA) is a Director at Armanino LLP, the largest independent California based CPA/Consulting firm. He leads the corporate finance activities of the firm, providing sell-side as well as buy-side M&A representation as well as valuation services. He has previously worked in software strategy consulting, a semiconductor start-up, and an automotive venture capital fund.

Dr. Christoph Kirchner

Christoph Kirchner

Treasurer – Southern California

Chief Financial Officer of BI Nutraceuticals, Inc.

BI Nutraceuticals, Inc. in Long Beach, California, a subsidiary of the Zuellig Group, headquartered in Hong Kong. BI Nutraceuticals, Inc. is a manufacturer of botanical powders and extracts for dietary supplements and nutritional ingredients. Christoph manages the financial and administrative functions across locations in North America and China and serves as a Director and Officer of BI Nutraceuticals, Inc. and several affiliated companies.
Previously, Christoph was involved in developing the cosmetics business for the Henkel Group, a Fortune 500 company based in Duesseldorf, Germany. As the Controller of Hans Schwarzkopf GmbH, he participated in the company’s sale and integration into Henkel KGaA, he managed mergers and acquisitions of cosmetic businesses in Russia, Latin America, Greece and the United States, he developed joint ventures and export businesses in Eastern Europe, and he managed the portfolio of affiliated companies. Additionally, he served as a Financial Executive of companies in Germany, France, Greece and in the United States.
Christoph holds a Ph.D. and an MBA from University of Hamburg, Germany. As Assistant Professor of Business, he taught Accounting and Finance at the University of Southern Indiana. He is fluent in German, English and French.

Mandy Herrmann

Mandy Herrmann

Young Professionals Interest Group
Women in Business Interest Group

Sr. Performance Marketing Manager at Balsam Brands

Mandy is currently an Online Marketing Strategist at Balsam Brands, an innovative ecommerce retailer of holiday and home décor products based in Silicon Valley. She started her career in traditional marketing and PR working for the German American Chamber of Commerce (GACCoM) in Chicago. After moving to the Bay Area, Mandy joined the start-up Become, Inc. and switched to the world of Online Marketing becoming an expert in Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing.

Mandy was born and raised in Germany and studied both there and the United States. She holds a Master’s Degree in German Literature, History and Communications. After relocating to California she joined GABA and made important business contacts who helped build her career and professional network. She wants to help other young professionals starting their professional careers in the Bay Area.

Michael Boehm

Michael Boehm

Members at Large – Southern California
Clean-Tech and Sustainability IG Co-Chair – Southern California

COO at Haig Barrett, a management consulting firm
Partner in HB/Sustain, Haig Barrett’s sustainability practice.

With over two decades of international business experience as a technology entrepreneur, Michael understands the real pressures organizations and their decision makers face on a daily basis. He has co-designed the Haig BarrettSustainovation sustainability strategic framework to create growth opportunities, build business, and find new streams of profitability.

Educated at Northwestern and Stanford Graduate School of Business, Michael combines an understanding of the behavior of organizations and the individuals who make them up and the technical systems they use to deliver service and value.

Michael is LEED AP and also certified in The Natural Step. Previous work experience included CEO of Solar start up SEDI, CTO, and work on Sempra’s smart grid while VP at Proximetry.

Michael teaches classes in the Global Sustainability Certificate programs at the University of California (UCLA) and is a Co-Founder of the Advanced Sustainability Institute in Santa Monica. He speaks Mandarin Chinese and is both a student and lecturer on Taoist philosophy. He serves as the Clean Tech Chair for the German American Business Association in Southern California.

Sandra Schmid

Sandra Schmid

Newsletter Editor

Sandra Schmid joined GABA as Event Director in Juli 2012. Her professional background centers around project and account management and she has worked in import/export as well as fulfillment for the high tech industry. Sandra holds a BS in International Business from Menlo College. She grew up in Germany but has lived in the Bay area since 1990. At GABA she focuses on preparation and organization of the GABA events as well as member relations.

Katrin Jakob, Ph.D.


Life Sciences / Healthcare Interest Group

Founder & CEO of California Business Associates LLC

Katrin Jakob, PhD, is an entrepreneur, scientific and business advisor, and Founder & CEO of California Business Associates LLC, an innovative business accelerator for startup companies in Biotechnology. She has over 20 years experience in plant and microbial biotechnology and R&D project management. She received a Master’s degree in Agriculture from the Humboldt University in Berlin, and a Ph.D. in Crop Science from the University of Giessen, Germany, and performed her postdoctoral research in plant molecular biology & genetics at the University of Chicago. Katrin started her career at the Institute of Crop Science at the Federal Agriculture Research Center in Braunschweig, Germany, and worked at Mendel Biotechnology in California, where she was leading research in plant pathology, molecular breeding, biofuels, plant transformation and microbial technologies to enhance crop productivity and stability.

Lex Anselm

Lex Anselm

Clean-Tech and Sustainability IG Co-Chair – Southern California

Entrepreneur and Real Estate Consultant at the Beverly Hills branch of Rodeo Realty

As certified negotiator successfully manages client projects in international business, residential, commercial and luxury real estate transactions with a passion for sustainable energy and “green” buildings.

As CSO of Playfone, a global multimedia content provider, he established and managed new markets in the US, Canada, Germany, UK, Sweden and the Baltic countries. As Founder and Director of successfully established a social networking platform.

In his earlier career as a professional athlete, he won the German Championships as a break dancer, the 2000 MTV talent awards out of 3000 competitors, 5th place in the 1996 World Championships in BMX freestyle and holds a Karate brown belt.

He studied business, commercial and real estate law in L.A., engineering in Karlsruhe, and holds a B.A. in International Business Administration of the European University in Hamburg, Germany.

Fluent in English, German and Russian and with a working knowledge in Italian and Dutch, he has lived in six countries, and worked and travelled in over 35 countries.

Uschi Joshua

Uschi Joshua

GABA Director
Munich Chapter Chair

Based in San Francisco and her home town, Munich, Uschi is plugged into a global network of M&A experts that she built over the past 20 years. Having experienced what it takes to build an engineering company from the ground up in Silicon Valley, her international expertise in Investor Relations, Business Development/Sales and Corporate Marketing help you make sure our clients are one step ahead.

A German and American citizen, with an MBA (summa cum laude) under her belt, she managed teams and budgets for companies like LSI Logic, National Semiconductor, PalmSource, Informatica and Yahoo, both in Europe and the US. At the brink of extinction, she was also instrumental in turning around the German-American-International School, Menlo Park, now a recognized World IB School, by introducing a new marketing concept, the International Baccalaureate.

As board member, she is presiding the Munich Chapter of the German American Business Association, an established networking organization in Silicon Valley, founded in 2003.

If Uschi is not on board a plane between Munich and San Francisco, you will likely reach her on adventurous treks or extreme skiing terrain.

Sven Hackmann

Sven Hackmann

Members at Large – Southern California

Vice President, US Cities Initiative at Siemens One, a Division of Siemens Corporation

Sven is currently responsible for the roll out and ongoing success of the Siemens Cities Initiative for the United States. Siemens Corporation has 405,000 employees at 1,640 locations around the globe, including 176 R&D facilities. By leveraging the breadth of Siemens portfolio of innovations and technologies, the Siemens One team provides customers in the private and public sector with tailored solutions that improve their performance and bolster their competitive position in the marketplace.

Since joining Siemens in 2001, and Sven has served as Regional Vice President for Southern California and Nevada in the Healthcare Sector, and previously as Business Development Manager for Siemens Business Solutions focused on development of long-term strategic partnerships with medical organizations.

He is a board member of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and he serves on the Board of Adviser at the University of Southern California Price School of Public Policy, Center for Sustainable Cities.  Sven is an alumni of the University of California, Los Angles (UCLA).

Linda K. Cleary

GABA Director
Women in Business Interest Group

Linda Kotzot Cleary is Chair of the GABA Women in Business (WIB) Group, and a senior lead generation marketing manager, with 15 years’ experience leading successful multi-channel marketing programs for high-tech companies and international business organizations.

Previously, she’s led online prospect acquisition programs for Dell, developed top revenue-producing programs for email automation company Lyris, and managed global communication campaigns for innovation-mapping software company Mindjet.

Linda is German-born and a long-time California resident, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Creative Writing from Santa Clara University. For details visit:

Petra Korn

Petra Korn

Media and Entertainment IG Co-Chair – Southern California

Petra Korn is an attorney admitted to practice both in Germany and in California. In the past ten years Petra has gained experience in media and entertainment law and transactions in Cologne and Berlin, Germany, and also in domestic and international corporate law and litigation through working for a prestigious law firm in Los Angeles. Petra enjoys having her own practice since November 2009 (

Petra advises domestic and international clients on transactional matters mainly in the fields of International Law, German Law, Corporate and Business Law, and Intellectual Property Law. Petra has the unique ability to advise clients on German and California law. Being able to explain the legal procedures either under German law or California law to the client in the native language is a big comforting factor to many of Petra’s clients.

Petra’s background and education has focused on Media Law, International Business Cartels, Unfair Competition, and Copyright Law. Petra furthered her studies in Media and European Law at the Administrative College in Speyer.

To best serve the needs of her clients, Petra maintains close relationships with, and associates with, a network of other attorneys and other professionals, like immigration lawyers and accountants.