top of page

We would like to thank all of our speakers for their support of the German-American Business Forum 2018.

Effective July 1, 2016, Mr. Daniel Andrich is President and CEO, Representative of German Industry and Trade. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Andrich worked for the Federation of German Industries (BDI), one of RGIT’s principals in Berlin, from 2008 to 2016. At BDI, he was Senior Policy Advisor for Global Governance and Trade Promotion and most recently Executive Assistant to BDI President Ulrich Grillo. In 2012, Mr. Andrich worked at RGIT as a visiting fellow and Senior Policy Advisor.
He holds a Master’s Degree in Political and Social Science, and History from University of Muenster.

Daniel Andrich

President and CEO, Representative of German Industry and Trade




Karsten Böhrs is an experienced entrepreneur and sales expert. In 2013 he joined the
explainer video company simpleshow as CEO. He has since been dedicated to the strategic
expansion of the company's market leadership through internationalization and innovation
leadership based on focused technology development.
After more than 20 years in management positions at multinationals such as Axel Springer
and the Otto Group, in 2007 Karsten started focusing on personal projects and promising
business models as an entrepreneurial investor. His recipe for success, in addition to his
experience, is a mixture of enthusiasm, energy, and vision.

Karsten Böhrs

CEO, The Simpleshow Company S.A.



James D. Bindenagel is a former U.S. Ambassador, a career diplomat and an expert on Germany. He served as an American diplomat in East, West and United Germany and as deputy and acting U.S. Ambassador in East and United Germany. In 1999 he was appointed by President Clinton as U.S. Ambassador and Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues and was Special U.S. Negotiator for "Conflict Diamonds". He is a board member of the German-American Chamber of Commerce-Midwest and inter alia member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), the American Council on Germany and the American Institute of Contemporary German Studies.

Michael Butschek is responsible for Digital Enterprise within Siemens AG’s Digital Factory Division.  Digital Enterprise is the interconnection of the virtual with the real world. Siemens’ world leading automation and industry software portfolio build the basis for this. His responsibilities range from defining the industrial digitalization strategy to worldwide sales governance, portfolio management, consulting to architecting demo centers and partner agreements.
Prior to his current role Michael has held several other significant leadership roles in Siemens most notably for strategy and regions of Siemens’ global Industry Services business and was CEO for the Americas & the industry business of Siemens Management Consulting.

Prof. J.D. Bindenagel

Ambassador (ret), Henry Kissinger Professor and Head of the Center International Security and Governance, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University Bonn  


Michael Butschek
Senior Vice President „Digital Enterprise“, Siemens AG, Digital Factory


Jackson Bond is Co-Founder and Chief Industrial Evangelist of relayr since 2018. He was previously Chief Product Officer, building out the Product and Marketing teams at relayr since 2013. He has spent the last 5 years in close dialog with thousands of industrial engineers and executives in heavy industry to understand their pain points and needs in order achieve a predictive state to enable digital transformation.
He previously co-founded MONOQI, a leading eCommerce platform for design products, and 8hertz Technologies, a speech-recognition application company. He has also worked in Corporate Development building new products and services for the German business network XING AG and for the Holtzbrink Group company, Parship.

Jackson Bond
Co-Founder, Chief Industry Evangelist, New Business, relayr GmbH




Ed Castile was appointed Deputy Secretary of Commerce for Workforce Programs July 1, 2015. He continues to serve as Director of Alabama Industrial Development Training, a position he has held since August 16, 1993. He is a former director of the State of Tennessee Industrial Training Service.
He currently serves on the Economic Development Association of Alabama Board of Directors, the UAB Biotechnology Advisory Board, the Governor’s Economic Alliance, the Montgomery Public Schools CTE Advisory Council, The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Labor, Education and Health Advisory Council, Co-Chair of the Governor’s Education Attainment Initiative and Chairman of the Alabama Productivity Center Advisory Board.

Ed Castile
Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Workforce Development Division, Director of AIDT


Susanne Gellert has been working for the German American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. for more than ten years. She is the Director of the Legal and Business Development Consulting Department. As of January 2018, she holds the position of Vice President. 
The Legal & Consulting Department advises, supports and represents German companies that wish to develop or expand their business activities in the United States by providing market entry services and legal advice and support. 
Susanne Gellert studied law at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Universidad de Sevilla (Spain) and Fordham Law School (New York). She is admitted to the bar in Germany and New York.

Susanne Gellert

Vice President, German American Chamber of Commerce, Inc., New Yor


Dr. Hoffmeister-Kraut started her career in London at the investment bank Morgan Stanley. This was followed by a position as Analyst at Ernst & Young in London and Frankfurt. Since 1998, she has been a partner of the Bizerba SE & Co. KG, with headquarters in Balingen. She was a Member of the Supervisory Board from 2014 until her appointment as Minister in May 2016. 
She has been a member of the Baden-Württemberg Landtag (regional parliament) since May 2016 and on 12 May 2016, Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut was appointed Minister of Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing of the State of Baden-Württemberg.

Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut MdL Minister of Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing of the State of Baden-Württemberg

Brendan James is a U.S. Consul at the United States Consulate General in Frankfurt. His primary portfolios are investor visas (E-Visas) and outreach to the business community in Germany. Prior to his assignment in Germany he served as the Deputy Spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, and has had assignments in Tajikistan, Washington D.C., and Ireland. Mr. James holds an M.B.A. in Finance and a B.A. in International Relations.

Brendan C. James 

Consul, Non-Immigrant Visa Unit, U.S. Consulate General Frankfurt


Siegmar Pohl is a partner in the San Francisco office of the global law firm Squire Patton Boggs. He advises German companies that do business in the U.S. – by selling their products, setting up subsidiaries, or by acquiring or investing in U.S. companies. As part of his corporate law practice, he helps structure companies and their operations to comply with US immigration law and visa requirements. Dr. Pohl has over 20 years of experience practicing law in Germany and the US. This deep understanding of both legal systems enable him to effectively advise on the optimal legal strategy for cross-border businesses.

Dr. Siegmar Pohl,

Attorney at Law and Partner, Squire Patton Boggs LLP


Johannes Schmalzl, Chief Executive Officer, Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) of the Stuttgart Region.
Johannes Schmalzl, born in 1965, is a lawyer and joined the Higher Administrative Service of Baden-Württemberg in 1996. From 2008 to 2016, he was Regierungspräsident (Governor) in Stuttgart and subsequently Head of Department in the Federal Ministry of Finance. Since November 2017, as the Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) of the Stuttgart Region, he manages the businesses of the IHK in agreement with the president and in accordance with the guidelines and resolutions of the plenum and the executive committee. 

Johannes Schmalzl

General Executive Manager, Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the Stuttgart Region



Mark Tomkins joined GACC Midwest in March 2006. Prior to this, he spent over 10 years in business development consulting, working with businesses throughout the world in developing strategic alliances and long-term co-operations. Mr. Tomkins began his professional career in the automotive and IT industry in Germany and the U.S. 
He serves on the board of GACC Midwest, the Honorary Board of the German International School Chicago, and the Board of Advisors for AIESEC at Northwestern University. Mr. Tomkins also serves on the National Academies of Sciences Committee on the Supply Chain for Middle-Skill Jobs. He graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL with a B.A. in Applied Mathematics (Honors Program), Economics and German.

Mark Tomkins
President & CEO, German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, Inc. 

Between mid of 2007 and March 2018, Matthias Heinz was CFO of mid-cap company KOMET Group GmbH in Besigheim. The group has approx. 1.550 employees among its 20 international affiliated companies. The biggest subsidiary, KOMET of America Inc., is located just outside of Chicago in Schaumburg, IL. 
Earlier in his career, Mr. Heinz was 12 years with Putzmeister AG, where he served 9 years in the U.S. as CFO with its American subsidiary in Racine, WI. 
From 2006 until 2009 he was a member of the Board of Directors of German American Chamber of Midwest in Chicago, IL. Since 2009 he is Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Trade Committee of the IHK in Stuttgart.

Matthias Heinz 

Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Trade Committee, Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the Stuttgart Region




Hilde Holland is a renowned U.S. immigration attorney. For more than 25 years, Ms. Holland has represented foreign and domestic companies and individuals from a wide variety of industries in matters concerning U.S. work visas and permits, permanent residency (Green Card) applications, family-based immigration, and (dual) citizenship matters.
As part of her practice, Ms. Holland provides strategic consultations on U.S. immigration matters and advises her clients on compliance with U.S. immigration laws.
Ms. Holland earned her law degree from University of Cologne, Germany, and is a member of the New York Bar Association. Furthermore, she is an Officer and Director of the German American Chamber of Commerce New York.

Hilde Holland

Attorney at Law Partner, Wuersch & Gering LLP





Moritz Koch has been Washington correspondent for Handelsblatt from 2013 till 2017. Currently, he covers foreign policy and domestic security in Berlin. Before joining Handelsblatt, he worked for Sueddeutsche Zeitung in Munich and New York as well as the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. He has studied politics and economics at the University of Hamburg and John Hopkins University. 

Moritz Koch 

Senior Correspondent, Handelsblatt





Since May 2013, Peter Riehle holds the position of President and CEO of WITTENSTEIN in Bartlett, IL. Prior responsibilities include VP of Sales and Marketing with TRUMPF Inc. in Farmington, CT, CEO of DMG America in Chicago, IL as well as Director Industrial Sales with Schaeffler in Fort Mill, SC. He held positions in executive management with responsibilities in Sales and Marketing, Research and Development, Software Technology, Procurement and Logistics, Acquisitions, Business Intelligence. He is an international executive with a vast knowledge of Sales & Marketing of highly sophisticated technology for machine tools. He holds the position of Chairman of the GACC Midwest and was instrumental in launching the ICATT Program.

Peter Riehle

President & CEO, WITTENSTEIN holding, Corp. and Chariman Board of Directors, German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, Inc.


Teri A. Simmons is a partner at Arnall Golden Gregory in Atlanta, Georgia, where she has practiced for over 27 years.  Arnall Golden Gregory employs 160 attorneys at its offices in Atlanta, Georgia and Washington DC. She directs the International Practice Group which focuses on the holistic representation of German owned companies in the US in the areas of corporate, employment, litigation, tax, intellectual property and immigration law. She also directs AGG’s immigration practice which is nationally recognized for its specialization in complex business immigration matters, employer compliance and white collar crime/audit defense. Ms. Simmons is also serving as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Georgia School of Law where she teaches the course on Business Immigration Law.

Teri A. Simmons

Attorney at Law and Partner, Arnall Golden Gregory LLP     



Rudi Herbst founded United Soft Plastics, Inc. in May 2005. As main shareholder he became Chairman, President & CEO of United Soft Plastics, Inc, an international operating and highly specialized TPE Manufacturer headquartered in Lawrenceville, GA. In addition, the company is just setting up another production facility in Houston, TX and it maintains warehouses and sales offices in USA, Argentina, Mexico, Germany, Malaysia and China. 
Mr. Herbst started his career 28 years ago as a developer of soft plastic materials at Gummiwerk Kraiburg in Germany. After founding a new US subsidiary in Duluth, GA in 1999, the TPE division of Gummiwerk Kraiburg was transferred into a new company (Kraiburg TPE, Corp.) and Rudi Herbst was appointed to President & CEO.

Rudi Herbst
President & CEO, United Soft Plastics




Rodney Hunter has over 32 years of management experience as a market development, sales and marketing professional (FMCG). He gained US and International experience in different businesses, leadership positions, cultures and geographies with Proctor & Gamble and Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG
As Director of North / South America and MEA at Ritter Sport he is currently responsible for developing sales and marketing strategies and lead execution of Ritter Sport’s international expansion in these geographies. Further, he manages the development and execution of sales and marketing plans, and is responsible for their respective profit (P&L). 
Rodney Hunter holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Economics and Management from University of Arizona.

Rodney Hunter

Business Director North/South America and MEA, Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG




Peter Limberger is a German native and citizen. An engineer by training, he has worked in various positions for large companies, such as Mannesmann AG, in several countries around the world. With German unification, he started his second career as independent entrepreneur. He acquired and started several manufacturing companies in particular in the field of automation and robotics in Germany, Switzerland, France and China.
Since 2011, Peter has been living in Illinois where he directs as Chairman and CEO the businesses and investments of CL Enterprises, the family investment office which he founded jointly with his wife Inga Carus. CLE has invested in agriculture, agro-industry, real estate and manufacturing businesses including a brewery.


Peter Limberger
Chairman and CEO, CL Enterprises LLC





Carsten Salewski has been in the electronics industry for over 20 years. Prior to his appointment as President and CEO of Viscom Inc. in Duluth, Georgia, the U.S. subsidiary of Viscom AG, he was division manager for customer specific projects, in addition to holding previous management positions in R&D and sales. Since Salewski joined Viscom Inc., in 2004, the company has grown substantially, opening two new sales and service offices in San Jose, Calif., and Guadalajara, Mexico.
Carsten Salewski also serves as chairman of the IPC SMEMA council, the Surface Mount Equipment Manufacturer Association in the U.S. trade organization IPC. In June 2018, Salewski becomes a Member of the Executive Board of Viscom AG in Hannover Germany, where he is responsible for sales and international business.

Carsten Salewski

Member of the Executive Board – Sales, Marketing and International Business, Viscom AG





Rainer Strohm is responsible for the digital transformation of the divisions Bosch Rexroth, Bosch Packaging and Bosch Connected Industry in the corporate sector information and services at Robert Bosch GmbH.
In close coordination with the Business CDO Industry, the range of tasks extends from defining the digital strategy to the implementation of projects and solution operations.
From 2003 to mid-2017 he was, amongst other positions, Head of Cloud Computing at IBM and was responsible for customers in the automotive and industrial sectors.

Rainer Strohm

VP Corporate Sector Information Systems and Services, Robert Bosch GmbH

Klaus Zellmer oversees the import and distribution of Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA) through the retail operations of 189 dealers and four U.S. ports of entry. Sales support, marketing, parts distribution, and other functions including sales and service training also fall within Zellmer’s areas of responsibility. 
Prior to joining PCNA, Zellmer was responsible for Porsche subsidiaries in Australia, Japan, Korea, and the sports car manufacturer's regional offices in Asia-Pacific, South America, the Middle East and Africa as head of Overseas and Emerging Markets. From 2010 until early 2015, he was CEO of Porsche Germany.

Klaus Zellmer

President & CEO Porsche Cars North America, Inc. and Chairman Board of Directors, German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S., Inc. 


Since joining the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S., Inc. (GACC South) in 2006, Stefanie Ziska has held various roles. She became Director of Marketing in 2008 and Vice President in 2011. As of March 1, 2017 she became President and CEO.
Stefanie initiated the joint AHK USA brand and started the current nation-wide skilled workforce initiative for the German Dual Vocational Training System in the United States.
In 2016 Stefanie won the Governor’s Award of GA for International Business Woman of the Year and was nominated for the US Committee of the German Chancellor Program of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 2017.

Stefanie Ziska 
President & CEO German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S., Inc.




bottom of page