Next to Dr. Ibrahim and Helmy Abouleish, the SEKEM Board of Directors has seven other members. Four times a year, the board meets in SEKEM to discuss the situation of business and strategic issues. The board members are nominated by SEKEMs owners and elected for three years. They bring a wide range of experiences and expertise in different fields. SEKEM News will introduce the board members by individual portraits.
“The holistic SEKEM Sustainability Flower represents exactly those values that are also important in my life – personally and business-wise”, says Marcus Fütterer. Upon closer examination, the “why” can be quickly identified. The banker is a member of SEKEMs Board of Directors but was never just focussing on economy only – he has a lot of diverse interests and is highly motivated. Hence, Fütterer loves, for instance, arts and is a passionate sportsman. “I can spend hours in a museum and sports are an essential source of energy for me.” He is intellectually curious, eager to learn and always searching for new ways of thinking – often he feels that he doesn’t have enough time to satisfy his desire to knowledge.
SEKEM Friends – Marcus Fütterer and GLS Bank
Marcus Fütterer is a big SEKEM lover and working for one of SEKEMs longstanding friends, the GLS Bank. The financial institution that works under socio-ecological principles since more than 40 years, supports SEKEM since the foundation in 1977. Marcus Fütterer was elected as a member in the SEKEM Board of Directors recently; he is committed to the Egyptian initiative already since the GLS became shareholder, seven years ago. “SEKEM plays a very special role for the GLS Bank”, Fütterer emphasizes. “We are constantly working with SEKEM and went through good and challenging times together.”
This year Marcus Fütterer undertakes the position of Gerhard Waterstradt, who was committed to the SEKEM Board of Directors since 2007. The likeable banker has a wide range of experience. He is an analyst, knows to deal with finances in a high professional way but in the same time he does not lose his empathy.
But how did the 48-year-old become such an all-rounder? First of all, Marcus Fütterer loves his work. He is a passionate economist, even though not a conventional one, but of course with a sustainable focus. Born and raised in the banking city of Frankfurt, Fütterer went to study business administration in the town Bamberg in Bavaria. “I looked into different study paths, such as marketing or criminology, but financial economy attracted me the most. However, back then the banking sector was still a fair business without the negative reputation that it has today.”
Holistic Education and Learning-By-Doing
Young Marcus attended a humanistic high school, which encouraged him, already when he was still a child, to be interested in the world and to think outside the box”. He learned ancient languages, ethics and philosophy but was engaged to music, sports and other physical activities. This holistic approach to education certainly contributed to Marcus Fütterer’s decision to study in Bamberg at a university that was known for intensive and practical courses. “We studied in small manageable groups and the contact between professors and students was very close and familiar”, he recalls. Additionally, the direct and practical experiences brought him important benefits. Marcus Fütterer completed already various internships at advertising agencies, financial institutions or investment companies during his high school and college days. Afterwards, he travelled to New York, where he got to know the international economic system: “Learning-by-doing is an important concept, which particularly influenced me. You can learn a lot from the experience of older colleagues. Then you are able to implement it in your own way – so much better compared to only studying books.”
Rethinking – Alternative Banking
For eleven years, Marcus Fütterer worked as an investment banker at traditional financial institutions. “The strong dynamic and the high volume of work in the companies that I got to know during this time attracted me.” After September 11, 2001 the banking system broke down and almost stagnated for two years. This seemed to be the appropriate time for Marcus Fütterer to set up his own business as a freelancing management consultant. “Many companies were desperate”, he noted. “The equity that companies were relying on, could no longer be ensured by banks or large-scale investors. Rethinking was required”. Hence, the economist dealt for five years with alternative solutions and supported enterprises in managing the challenges of this time. In this context, he became engaged to the special characteristics of family business and their subsequent regulations. Important insights that helped him later, when he became engaged to the SEKEM Board of Directors.
When working as independent management consultant, Marcus Fütterer made his first contact with GLS Bank. “I invested much time to become familiar with this alternative bank that was quite small back then. But I realized that the company could benefit from my experience in many departments.” In the same time, he recognized that the holistic, social, economic and ecological approach of GLS Bank fit very well to his personal values. Hence, Fütterer started seven years ago to work in the field of equity capital generation for the ecological Bank. “Searching for investors for promising future-oriented projects in the social sector or the promotion of renewable energies are very exciting and meaningful tasks.”
Meanwhile, Fütterer is in charge of companies that deal with renewable energy or are committed to the Organic sector. In this context, SEKEM plays an important role in his daily work. “There were times when SEKEM was growing very fast. They were followed by turbulent times, such as after the Egyptian uprising in 2011. During both periods the support of the Board of Directors was very important”, the SEKEM expert remembers. To handle these challenges, professionalism and tranquillity is required. These qualities characterize Marcus Fütterer in SEKEMs Board of Directors.
“Challenges are not only dangerous, but offer new opportunities at the same time.”
Actually, Marcus Fütterer is not only a friend of SEKEM, but also a great lover of Egypt. He visited the land of the pyramids for the first time in 1993 and travelled around the Sinai-Peninsula.” Those days have been completely different compared to the current situation. The Sinai-Peninsula was a melting pot of cultures. The Arabic cultural has always been exciting for me and I still see a lot of potential in the Middle East”, he says. “I’m not so much concerned about certain problems as many others are.” He admits that the unstable situation in the region is a great challenge. But: “Challenges are not only dangerous but offer new opportunities at the same time. It is possible to manage hard times while even gaining profit from it”, Marcus Fütterer emphasizes. This needs resilience – one of the strengths that SEKEM owns. With the help of a large global network of partners, SEKEM was able to make it through difficult periods and could even win new supporters. “What is special about SEKEMs network is its versatility. There are not only economic but also social and cultural connections. This makes SEKEM very attractive”, Fütterer underlines.
And so the circle is complete. The SEKEM network overlaps with the GLS partners at many places and the holistic vision of SEKEMs Sustainability Flower matches to the commitment of the GLS Bank. This is something that Marcus Fütterer likes to reflect on, while doing workout. When he returns to work, he has again the full power and the required tranquillity to satisfy his thirst for knowledge and to tackle challenges.