Bidding Farewell to Werner M. Dornscheidt: Departure of One of the Greats

Messe boss Dornscheidt says goodbye. Neue Messe Süd/Hall 1 was the last major construction project under his management (Source: Messe Düsseldorf/Andreas Wiese).

By Marcel Berndt, from Messe Düsseldorf.

It all started in the mailroom: where Werner M. Dornscheidt took on a student job at Messe Düsseldorf in 1975 – and on 30 June he will resign as a President and Chief Executive Officer after holding this office for nearly 17 years. A glimpse of Werner Dornscheidt the man and his personal impact on Messe Düsseldorf.

He has left his mark on Messe Düsseldorf – especially in human terms. Now Werner M. Dornscheidt hands over the baton to Wolfram N. Diener. With interruptions the outgoing CEO spent a total of 37 years serving the company. “Trade fairs are my life. And Messe Düsseldorf is my family,” says Dornscheidt. “Together we have accomplished great things that benefit the company today. It is true that the circumstances are currently difficult but it feels good to know that ‘my’ company is in the best of hands.”

Werner Dornscheidt presiding over a ceremony at the wire and cable trade fair wire India. He made Messe Düsseldorf even more international: while in 2004 it had 65 foreign representations for 104 countries, MD currently has 77 foreign representations looking after 141 countries (Photo: Messe Düsseldorf/Andreas Wiese).

“Dorni” introduces himself

In this short profile Werner Dornscheidt reveals what he’s like as a boss, his favourite retreat and why he doesn’t care about visions.

My leadership style: I leave as much freedom as possible. The team we build on takes the initiative itself, is agile and goes the last mile. Freedom stimulates creativity – and challenges people at the same time because they have to structure themselves and take decisions.

My character: Aries is my sign of the zodiac, that says it all!

My biggest success: Just look at Messe Düsseldorf. I am happy that I was able to contribute to this. And that “my” company is in the best of hands. With its longstanding trade fair experience the new and old Board of Managing Directors comprising Wolfram N. Diener, Bernhard J. Stempfle and Erhard Wienkamp is the ideal trio to steer Messe Düsseldorf through the Corona crisis and place it in pole position for the future.

My retreat: My family and my hometown of Gerresheim. And if things also get too hectic there, I occasionally disconnect in Cadzand near Knokke in Holland.

My music style: Blues and Rock. Once you’re hooked, they never leave you. Incidentally, I wanted to become a professional trumpet player once upon a time. I made my first money aged 17 playing the trumpet at Düsseldorf Opera House – earning the princely sum of 100 Deutschmarks a night.

My respect: For disability sports. Messe Düsseldorf organises and operates the ‘Deutsches Haus’ during the Olympic and Paralympic Games commissioned by Deutsche Sport Marketing DSM. The atmosphere there, the team spirit and sportspeople’s performance never fail to give me goose bumps. This is also why our rehabilitation trade fair REHACARE is a matter of the heart for me.

My favourite fancy dress for carnival: Mexican. I will fill this role even better in future. After all, I am an honorary consul of Mexico and will continue exercising this function in future, too – at the Honorary Consulate located on the ground floor of Messe Düsseldorf. This means I’ll still be around a bit. And Bernhard Stempfle, my colleague on the Board of Managing Directors, is an honorary consul of Monaco. Another indication for how international we are at the Messe.

My nickname: Dorni.

My passion: Even though Messe Düsseldorf has become a digital enterprise under my guidance I like pens – good old fountain pens. 34 of these sit nicely aligned in my cabinet. Nor would I ever part with my books that I’m really proud of – “The Library of Werner Dornscheidt”. These words are stamped into all my favourite books.

My favourite dish: Broad beans with bacon. For my colleagues I also occasionally do some home cooking: stews, curry sausage. A no-go: salmon.

My morning ritual: Speak little, read newspapers, drink coffee. Tea is medicine. Helps against visions.

My vision for Messe Düsseldorf: In case of visions I advise you to see your doctor. Messe Düsseldorf is now already one of the world’s biggest platforms for international market leaders and decision-makers in various industries. And it should stay that way – across all channels; with our global No. 1 trade fairs here in Düsseldorf; with local events worldwide; and with its digital offering. To this end the team has to stay close to the markets, further drive internationalisation and digital transformation; and keep our Düsseldorf premises state-of-the-art – in terms of technology, functionality, convenience and architecture. Permanent evolution as a normal state. Business as usual – no visions needed.

My parting advice: When you’re up to your neck in water, don’t be down in the mouth.

Verdict

What remains after nearly 17 years of Dornscheidt leadership? The infographic shows the difference he has made for Messe Düsseldorf.

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