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Moderation talent and curious mind: Meet Silja Wöhrle

Moderation talent and curious mind: Meet Silja Wöhrle, Foto: Astrid Eckert

Our student Silja Wöhrle concluded 2020 with two personal highlights: First, moderating a panel discussion on the upcoming reform of the higher education act in this year’s Dies Academicus event on December 3. Second, being elected the first female member of the board of TUM Management Alumni e.V. Wöhrle’s curriculum vitae shows that intrinsic motivation and curiosity combined with commitment and the willingness to do more than expected can take you a long way.

Since the beginning of her master’s degree, Silja Wöhrle has been committed to the TUM Speakers Series and hosted several events as Head of Moderation – with interviews of well-known personalities such as former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It began at a networking event hosted by the TUM Management Alumni e.V. “I met a fellow student there who told me about his work for the student initiative TUM Speakers Series,” Wöhrle says. “Coincidentally, I had attended one of their events a few weeks earlier that I was very impressed by.” Motivated by her fellow student, she applied and soon became part of the team – which marked the start of an exciting journey. Even though she had no prior moderation experience before joining the TUM Speakers Series, she learned extremely fast and – exceeding expectations – was elected Head of Moderation soon. The dedication and motivation she showed in the team played an invaluable part. “Speaking in front of an audience has fortunately never been a challenge for me,” says Wöhrle. “But moderating live on stage is actually only a small part of the event. The crucial and more important part of the work is preparing for the event.” The interdisciplinary team has several meetings prior to each event to discuss topic blocks, to conduct topic-specific research, and to define specific questions to guide the interview. “The preparation phase is always a highlight because in our diverse team – with students from business administration, physics, computer science and other academic fields – everyone has their own expertise and therefore contributes specific knowledge and interests,” Wöhrle states. “The challenge of doing a great job as a host is to let a dialogue develop on stage and to provide the audience with a thread”, she points out. “On stage, you have to be prepared to adapt your structure as the discussion progresses. For a really successful moderation, you need to be able to juggle with your questions, read inbetween the lines and interpret respones, and still get the timing right.”

Besides her activities in the TUM Speakers Series, Silja Wöhrle also joined the TUM Management Alumni e.V. team early on during her studies. During her bachelor’s degree, she worked for the association as a student employee and got to know the people and the network within the organisation. Over the years, she has supported the TUM Management Alumni e.V. from time to time – for example, when she appeared in the image film or hosted a part of the virtual homestaying event. Based on the continuous contact with the TUM Management Alumni e.V. and commitment to participate and lead in university events, Prof. Friedl approached her to ask if she would be interested in standing for candidacy. She was – and soon thereafter she was elected the first female board member. “My role involves bridging the gap between students and the business community,” Wöhrle explains. “The fact that I’m just transitioning from one world to the other myself will help me a lot, I believe.”

For Silja Wöhrle, transitioning into professional working life is a key next step in 2021. In the TUM Management Alumni e.V., she is looking forward to contributing to further developing engaging formats as well as expanding the events to meet the needs of the ever-growing association. “The TUM Management Alumni e.V. has always been a great way for me to step out of the student perspective and into contact with the business community,” Wöhrle says. “At the same time, being a part of the Alumni association is a great way to exchange with fellow students, to share personal experiences, and to discuss career opportunities.”

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