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Lift Your Legacy: “Helping others find themselves within the framework of a global company” with Lenovo SVP Christian Teismann and Jacob Rupp

The true nature of a modern global business is that it is 24 hours a day, worldwide. Travel is often required, and meetings and conference calls can regularly happen at traditionally family times. Whenever I can, I take my family with me, especially on extended business trips. The upside of this is that I get […]

The true nature of a modern global business is that it is 24 hours a day, worldwide. Travel is often required, and meetings and conference calls can regularly happen at traditionally family times. Whenever I can, I take my family with me, especially on extended business trips. The upside of this is that I get to spend more quality time with them and they get to experience and learn from many other cultures.


Christian Teismann is senior vice president and general manager of the Enterprise Business Segment for Lenovo’s PCs and smart devices. He is responsible for strategy, end-to-end customer engagement, and the product portfolio including the legendary ThinkPad, Lenovo’s workstations, Chrome and smart office offerings worldwide. He has also successfully led Lenovo’s Global Accounts Business for over 10 years, with clients that comprise the world’s top Fortune 500 companies.

Prior to this he was vice president and was responsible for creating Lenovo’s sales processes and organizations for enterprise customers after Lenovo’s acquisition of IBM’s PC division in 2005. Christian joined Lenovo from IBM where he was vice president of Sales Operations for IBM’s Personal Systems Group.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

Hi, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you. I am responsible for driving customer solutions including the legendary ThinkPad notebooks, our fast-growing workstation business and smarter business offerings. This would include IT procurement, management and security, and emerging technologies such as AI, IOT, AR/VR and smart office solutions.

I joined Lenovo from IBM following the acquisition of the PC division in 2005. I live in Munich, Germany with my wife and two children.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading in your current company role?

Around 10 years ago, I spent extensive time in China leading an integration project with the former IBM sales team and our new colleagues from Lenovo China. This was truly a voyage of discovery in merging two lines of business and contrasting cultures. Over time we broke through the language barriers and the differences in business operations to forge a powerful team that brought together the best of east and west. I like to think that this period was both enlightening and empowering for all involved.

What was your biggest challenge to date either personally or professionally and how did you overcome it?

I’ve found that challenges and adversity always bring out the best in people. None more so than back in late 2004. The New York Times broke the story of Lenovo’s pending acquisition of IBM’s PC division. Although negotiations had been ongoing for some months, which I was leading on the sales organization side, very few people knew about the deal. After the news broke, which caught us by surprise, our primary concern and action was to develop a plan to communicate with and reassure our customers. Back then, the magnitude of this acquisition was huge and arguably the highest profile, if not the largest global acquisition by a Chinese company. This created a huge amount of uncertainty and doubt with our customers. To be honest, we weren’t really prepared at such an early stage. But we pulled through, and to give our customers and business partners huge credit, they took onboard our advice and guidance.

What does leadership mean to you and how do you best inspire others to lead?

My personal view is that leading should be about unleashing people’s aspirations by helping them believe that the impossible is possible and to encourage taking calculated risks, accept failures and learn from them. Give people the desire and tools to take ownership, offer guidance along the way but never micro-manage. Good leaders have trust in their teams.

Was it difficult to fit your life into your business/career and how did you do that?

The true nature of a modern global business is that it is 24 hours a day, worldwide. Travel is often required, and meetings and conference calls can regularly happen at traditionally family times. Whenever I can, I take my family with me, especially on extended business trips. The upside of this is that I get to spend more quality time with them and they get to experience and learn from many other cultures.

Did you find that as your success grew it became more difficult to focus on the other areas of your life?

Yes and no. The more challenges in work, the more you need to balance with stimulating experiences in your personal life, through family time, interests and hobbies. The brain needs that balance to relieve stresses. It’s not always foolproof and it takes work, focus and a supportive family to make sure that the equilibrium exists.

Can you share some advice to other leaders about how to achieve the best balance between work and personal life?

The best piece of advice I could give, which I wish I stuck to, is turn your phone off during family time.

In reality though, it’s almost impossible to draw a line and the harder that becomes, the more important it is to ensure that your family is engaged and part of your work life. I’m lucky that I work in a constantly changing and innovating industry and my family are very interested in what I do. I often seek and value their opinions and keep them involved. Most of my colleagues have met my family and vice-versa, so it often makes it easier to achieve a good work-life balance and we remind each other if we stray too far from that stability.

What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride?

Speaking purely from a professional perspective, any great team achievement where individually we did not believe could be done, but as a team, we surpassed all our own expectations.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Shut down email servers at weekends!! Haha, no seriously, we have an obligation to never forget that we have one planet which is our home. We must look at the next generation and beyond and think about what state we want to pass on our planet. It’s not really an original inspiration, but something I feel very strongly in. I don’t just mean our impact on climate, but all aspects of humanity. We shouldn’t just accept and tolerate who we are, but we should celebrate our uniqueness, our cultural diversity and continue pushing for equality and inclusion. As residents of Earth, each and every one of us has a principle duty to act, however small we may feel it is. Individually, we may not think we are doing much, but as humanity, we can and will make a difference.

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