Markus Hornböck, one of our graduates, studied Applied Business Administration. He has served as Managing Director of BABEG Kärntner Betriebsansiedlungs- und Beteiligungsgesellschaft m.b.H. since 2019. In this interview, he tells us about the importance of the university for Carinthia as a business location, taking time to reflect and upcoming projects.
Mr. Hornböck, you studied Applied Business Administration. What areas of specialisation did you choose?
The specialisations I focused on were financing, banking and loans, public business administration and innovation management.
Did you already have a career goal in mind back then?
At the time, my professional ambitions were still vague, but I did know that I wanted to work on projects where I could make a difference, and that was also what drove me to choose Business Administration.
Why did you choose the University of Klagenfurt?
I was working in Klagenfurt at the time and helping out in my local forestry company. Even then, what was decisive for me was the friendly atmosphere at the University of Klagenfurt. The high quality of student supervision at the University of Klagenfurt represents a unique selling point that very few universities can offer.
One unforgettable memory from my student days is… putting together my first timetable. That was definitely very challenging for me, but later it proved to be fun.
When I think of the University of Klagenfurt, I immediately think of… the symbiosis between the University of Klagenfurt and Lakeside Park. I look forward to its continued development.
Do you still have a connection to the university? Yes, whenever we design projects, we always take the university into account. It is an integral part of our projects. It is impossible to think of the location without the university. The university is very appealing. As BABEG, it is our job to continue to develop the region, and we can only do that by having a university here.
Did you spend any time abroad?
I was able to expand my language skills by spending time in Slovenia during my studies. After graduating, I worked in Europe for a long time. I see a period spent abroad as an essential building block in my personal development. The University of Klagenfurt offers a wide range of opportunities in this regard. One simply has to make use of them.
Do you have any tips for present-day students who want to go abroad?
Each of us should go abroad in the short or medium term, because it is very formative for our perspective. At the same time, making sure that people also return is essential for our location. This is becoming easier and easier to achieve because our location is so compelling.
How has your career evolved?
In 2008, after finishing my studies, I started working for Pago, where I was responsible for purchasing. In 2011 I moved to the APS Group. This company specialises in headhunting. While I was there, I built up a new division of my own and was also responsible for Carinthia. In 2013, my professional path led me to the political office of the State of Carinthia. In this position, I was responsible for research and development, equity investments, and the labour market. This taught me how to chart a strategic course for the ongoing development of Carinthia as a business location. In 2019, I applied for the position I have today and was appointed. I have been the Managing Director of BABEG for four years now. I worked in different countries for my previous employers and each position taught me something useful for my current job. I would advise today’s students to take time to reflect between jobs in order to continue to evolve. My generation tends to be shaped by the idea that you have a job and keep it until you retire. Today’s generation has understood that taking time for oneself is a good thing. It is essential to make use of this time.
Do you have a favourite project at BABEG?
There are so many great projects revolving around the 5G Playground, the Digital Innovation Hub, the energy transition, research, business location, location development and strategic investments. A lot of heart and soul currently lies in the continued development of our science and technology parks, such as Lakeside Park, High Tech Campus Villach and the “Campus 2050” project. This is where we can demonstrate our strengths and address the issues of decarbonisation, climate and energy efficiency and implement solutions.
What are your professional duties? What does your daily routine look like?
Variety defines my daily life and keeps the job exciting. I perform many different activities. This involves strategies, HR and organisational development, but I also have to act as a trouble shooter. My university education taught me a lot with regard to the former, and my own experience has benefited me with regard to the latter. First and foremost, my work is about developing strategies and projects and aligning societies so that the internal workings are such that minimal influence is required on my part. This frees me up to develop projects. That said, my responsibilities extend beyond the confines of BABEG. I am actively involved in other companies, on supervisory boards and boards of directors, and they all act in synergy.
Did your university studies equip you for your current job?
Yes, the degree provided me with the tools for many areas. The ability to work autonomously is an important asset which we gain from attending university. It is also what shapes the mindset of the students. Nothing can replace practical experience, but that is also not the duty of a university. Having said that, the University of Klagenfurt – and I would like to emphasise this – does a lot, for example with its exemplary role regarding practical semesters.
What are Carinthia’s strengths as a location? What role does BABEG play here?
This is something we make every effort to express succinctly. It would be simplistic to say that we are the location that other people choose for their holidays. I believe that we also have the advantage of being a high-tech industrial location. This is sometimes underestimated, but it is nevertheless true. Besides the job, we have to be able to present everything else in the best possible way: Private life including housing, childcare, education, etc. The point is not only the beauty of a location, but also lowering barriers to education, research, cooperation partners and entrepreneurship. To this end, we turn soft facts into hard facts.
How would you define success?
For me, success is about having the opportunity to put my ideas into practice.
Do you have a (life) motto?
Actively shape the future.
What advice would you give to the students of today?
The nurturing environment provided by Carinthia is not vast. It is important to build up friendships during your time at university, thereby ensuring that cooperative ventures work more effectively.
What do you do to find balance in your life?
I spend my spare time with my children, from skiing to going to Jump World. I also like visiting the forest and I run my grandparents’ forestry business.
What challenges excite you most?
Everything that entails complexity. No low hanging fruits.
A few words with Markus Hornböck
- A happy moment at the University of Klagenfurt was… submitting my diploma thesis.
- From my student days I still have… my student ID and my matriculation number, which I still know by heart.
- If I were to study again, I would… definitely spend a full semester abroad. Include periods of self-discovery. Make greater use of the range of different fields of study and choose different electives. In addition, I would study Business and Law.
- My degree programme in 4 words: learning, friendship, fun, independence