She wanted to cure cancer. That's why she enrolled in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Constructor University in Bremen - which first was called International University Bremen and then Jacobs University. Today, Conny Scheitz is Senior Director for Programs and Business Excellence at the software giant Autodesk and helps her team to find their superpower – and utilize it.
As part of the "Class of 2007", Cornelia "Conny" Scheitz completed her Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Jacobs University – now Constructor University. She also earned a Master's degree in this field and then went on to her doctorate. Gaining practical experience, being in the lab and doing research was important to her. She also wanted to study with an international community and it appealed to her, that the language of teaching was English. The University had only been founded a few years before: "It radiated fresh energy for me at the time - and that got me excited", Scheitz recalled. The University being embedded into the German education system was another plus for her: "It gave me the security of being able to go back or switch universities if I wanted to", said the Alumna.
But it never came to that. Scheitz stayed and made friends for life while studying in Bremen. "The community of people, the late-night walks across campus - having that little place that is yours - those are some of my best memories". Just like the get-togethers with wine spritzers and homemade sushi - because you don't need to cook for that - in their three-bedroom-apartment in Krupp A, running over to the research building to drop off some homework five minutes before the deadline, or pranking each other with a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Robbie Williams: "Those memories just stay with you", Scheitz said.
During her studies, Scheitz did research on different types of skin cancer. Eventually, she joined a start-up that aimed to automate Life Sciences: "The idea pulled me in, because in this field, many procedures are highly inefficient", Scheitz recalled. "It is very manual and it takes a very long time to get the data you need to make decisions", said the Alumna.
In the end, the quest of how to extract the right data to make the best decisions drove Scheitz a little more than Biology itself: Today, she is the Senior Director for Programs and Business Excellence at Autodesk, the leading provider of 3D design, engineering and entertainment software: "My team figures out how to get the data we need to plan ahead", Scheitz explained. "What needs to be done in the next 12 to 18 months to achieve our target? How do we stay coordinated even though there are thousands of processes going on that are independent but all need to feed into the same goal”? In the end, Autodesk makes decisions based on the data that Conny Scheitz and her team provide.
Scheitz's job as team leader is also to be a multiplier for her team members. To make sure that the team and the engineers can be their true, authentic selves and do their best work to achieve the goals they have set. "For me, everybody has a superpower”, Scheitz said. "My job is to identify that superpower and put them in a position in the company where they can actually utilize that to the fullest. So ultimately, it's all about people", she summed up. It is important to Scheitz to create an environment in which people can learn and develop - without fear of making mistakes, without fear of failure: "If you don't fail, you didn't try hard enough”, Scheitz said with a laugh.
This attitude makes her the perfect candidate for the office she holds since September 2022: Conny Scheitz was elected president of the Alumni Association of today's Constructor University. But she has been a member for years: "Something that will always stay with me is the international experience. It gives me a huge advantage to anyone else in the workforce, it’s an incredible boost for your career”, said Scheitz. “I asked myself, how do I enable the next generation to also have this experience? Folks who never thought they could afford a university education, who never thought they could afford international education. I wanted to give back, that's why I'm involved."
And she does it like she does everything: with energy, commitment and full power – so it doesn’t come as a surprise that she also leads the Constructor University Foundation of America (CUFA) as President. The non-profit organization takes care of fundraising and awards scholarships for Constructor University, which was called International University Bremen during the first years and was renamed in 2007 as Jacobs University. In Fall 2022, the name was changed again and the university was rebranded.
Thanks to her experience, Scheitz had a good picture of the challenges that a name change and a rebranding process would pose for the University. She herself was a student during the first name change in 2007 and had experienced the process from the inside: "I knew what this meant for the community and I was aware it wasn’t going to be an easy job. I want to bring everyone along, but I also know, it takes time", said Scheitz. “I think we can do so much good, the University already has a great infrastructure, a great academic program and profile", said the president of the Alumni Association. "The talent that comes out of the University is amazing. Ultimately, it is not the name that makes the University, it is the students. They will fill the name with life", said Scheitz. "Change has the potential to start new traditions."
Conny Scheitz is not only on fire when it comes to empowering people at various levels. A few months ago, she bought a house. On the weekends, she is working here, staining the countertops, priming the drywalls, putting up the skirting boards. "It's good for me to do something with my hands when I sit in zoom calls all day talking to people. Working on the house is the balance."
This text is part of the "Faces" series, in which Constructor University introduces students, alumni, professors and staff.
About Constructor University:
An international community, vibrant and diverse. Offering academic excellence, ensuring the highest standards in research and teaching. Empowering students to solve the world's pressing challenges through knowledge and science: Constructor University is a top-ranked, English-speaking, private university. Founded in 2001, it provides a wide range of 25+ academic programs and PhD. The Constructor ecosystem comprises the University, located in Bremen, Germany, and an institute in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.
Over 1.800 students from more than 110 nations on campus benefit from a unique interdisciplinary, foundational theoretical and practical education. Enriched with a buzzing entrepreneurial culture that prepares young professionals to thrive in the job market. With 6.000+ alumni worldwide, our community keeps growing – with our highest cohort ever registered in 2022.
The research-centric faculty projects are funded by the German Research Foundation and the European Union's Framework Program for Research and Innovation as well as by globally leading companies.
The Constructor ecosystem benefits from partnerships with high-ranked universities such as Carnegie Mellon, the University of Geneva or the National University of Singapore School of Computing, and technology companies such as Anisoprint, JetBrains and ChemDiv.
Constructor is a global institution dedicated to addressing the main challenges of the world through science, education, and technology. Apart from the University in Bremen, the ecosystem comprises an Institute in Schaffhausen (Switzerland) and several for-profit entities that provide technology infrastructures and solutions, life-long education programs, consulting services, and funding.