MMag. Dr. Bernhard Gröhs, LL.M.
Bernhard Gröhs studied law and business administration in Vienna and Berkeley, USA. Studying at this intercultural atmosphere left a lasting impression on his international mindset. Back in Vienna he became a tax consultant with a focus towards consulting international corporations and joined a small but entrepreneurial accounting firm. As a partner, he initiated joining Deloitte as the regional representative. From there onwards the firm grew from 55 employees to 1600 when he retired as CEO in May 2021. Since then, Bernhard took on several board functions in privately owned companies and has recently been elected chairman of the supervisory board of Deloitte Germany.
For Pfeifer he has been on the supervisory board for many years and chairs the board of the private foundation. In this role he proposed to invest into a private equity firm from which SymbiaVC emerged. He was asked to become a member of the board, which he accepted.
Bernhard Gröhs is a passionate husband, father and grandfather, loves to listen to music (preferably live) and hike up mountains with his wife. He plays the violin and spends as much time as he can in the farmhouse retreat he created together with his wife (www.schmiedgut-badaussee.at).
- How did SymbiaVC come into being?
- Being a member of the advisory board of Pfeifer, we were talking a lot about innovation. My point of view was that it is not enough to have an internal innovation hub. We needed innovation coming from outside the company and for that to create an independent entity to be able to also invest in an ecosystem of dynamic start ups. The family members considered this very carefully and finally, they agreed. I am convinced the decision was based on the trust Peter and I were able to develop in our years of service. Venture capital is a risky thing, and it is totally clear that some investments will fail. But the chances and synergies must outweigh the risk. This is our goal.
- What is your position at SymbiaVC?
- I am one of two Founding Partners, where, together with Peter, we represent the owners interests within the board of Symbia and work closely together with Johannes. I contribute my network and my experience in challenging and moderating entrepreneurs and business ideas, evaluate them and bring the dots together. Ecosystems are like webs that may be knit good or bad, and I guess I have a feeling about the fit.
- What fascinates you about SymbiaVC?
- I am fascinated to work with young people. I loved to teach courses at the university in Vienna and strongly believe that while growing older working with a young team helps to maintain a fit and active mind. It simply makes me feel happy to support young people in their development. On one side our own team which consists of extremely smart and talented young people and on the other side young founders I can share my experience with. It is not about telling people what to do. They will follow their own path, but we offer them different perspectives, which can lead to discovering new options.
- In terms of age the SymbiaVC team is quite diverse…
- Not only in terms of age but also character-wise. In the executive board we are only males – for now, but we are absolutely convinced that innovation can only happen with people of many different backgrounds. Our team is young and experienced, from Europe and abroad, male and female. We are very proud to set an example for diversity especially within the timber industry.
- Where should the company develop?
- Obviously, we want to have financial success, our capital being well invested. But we also know that we will see results only in 5 to 10 years. We want a portfolio with great companies, who produce sustainable products and services that make the world a bit better. Politics alone cannot handle all global issues, but the next generations must take responsibility.
- Your favorite tree?
- Probably still the cherry tree in my parents’ garden: I built a tree house where I could be on my own, read and chill and dream. I have wonderful memories about that time. It is important not to stop dreaming entirely – it may help to leap forward in your life.