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Norman Herrmann

  • Programme: Project and Infrastructure Finance
  • Nationality: German
  • Job Post-programme: Executive Board EMIS Electrics GmbH

Professional background

Norman has an MBA in International Business from Eada in Barcelona. He joined EMIS Electrics – a mid-sized business in the energy sector involved in construction projects and service activities – as a Marketing Manager in 2005 and is now a member of the executive board responsible for finance and business administration.

Broadening horizons

I came to this programme looking for inspiration and fresh ideas to take into my workplace, while also considering, in the long term, a career shift away from corporate and towards project finance. I’d already attended a couple of corporate finance programmes at London Business School and was eager to maintain contact with the School and build on all that I had gained. In my experience all LBS programmes give you something that you can take away and immediately apply.

Putting learning into practice

It was an intense five days. The schedule was packed with case studies, class discussion and sheer creative energy. I came away feeling incredibly energized. Sitting on the plane back to Berlin, my head was buzzing with plans – I couldn’t wait to share the programme’s key concepts and approaches with my colleagues, and to explore how we could put them into practice. Almost immediately I applied what I learnt to a major project, constructing a power plant in the Netherlands. With a firmer understanding of the different pressures on the various parties in the dealmaking process, and the various risks involved, I was able to better understand the needs of our customers – which made for a smooth and successful experience. 

I also learned a huge amount about how to mitigate and manage risk, a crucial part of any project finance deal. I now understand how important it is to identify how risk is distributed throughout a project: who is controlling it, who is bearing it, and how you can incorporate it and secure cash flows. More generally, I also learned how crucial it is to stay focused on the big picture even while navigating a complex flood of information and demands. Developing that big picture mindset has been invaluable.

Inspiration through networking

The faculty and guest speakers at LBS were superb. Theory was deftly supported with practical applications taken from real-life situations, and the balance between broad discussion and tight focus on key issues was extremely skilfully done. It was also stimulating to be among classmates from such different professional backgrounds from all over the world. It was fascinating to witness how different individuals from various industries approach challenges. Learning from others in this way really shook up my own perspective. 

I met one participant in particular who was working in a similar business to mine, engineering and constructing big systems. After the programme I was delighted to put him in touch with another contact that works in a private equity firm in Brazil and was looking for a supplier. It was great to be able to bring them together and to be able to benefit both parties. I also made a lot of contacts in the project finance area, both among my classmates and the speakers. One speaker in particular, from a European investment bank, was hugely valuable, suggesting people I might approach and giving me tips on how I could get into the industry.

Creative reflection

Above all, though, I valued the space and time we were given to reflect upon our own business experience and knowledge, and to put those into a broader context. I came away understanding myself better, recognising my own resources and capabilities. This creative reflection – or perhaps it was a creative injection! – was vital to the process. I’m now keeping my eye on opportunities, staying in touch with the contacts I made and am confident and excited about heading into a career in project finance in the near future.