Meet Karin Stoll, Consul General of Germany in Chennai. She is a political scientist, art historian and leader, all-in-one. In a high-profile role in Chennai, this soft-spoken professional juggles it all. Dressed smartly in business attire adorned with a batik silk scarf, she is an epitome of grace and dignity. She’s also a hands-on hard worker, who is passionate about what she does. You can see her keen interest in work and in being a friend to India. Karin is someone with high ideals, someone who wants to make a difference.
We catch up with Consul General Stoll at her office on a typical working weekday. Southeast India is the perfect location for her, with about 130 German companies in Tamil Nadu alone. Some of them are hidden champions, world leaders in what they are producing. In just 18 months, she has achieved a good deal, and her presence is felt not only in the industry, but also in cultural institutions and the government here as well. The key to her success? She loves her job. After only one year, she has requested to do a four-year stint.
You moved to Chennai after a prior assignment in Delhi. How was that transition, and how has your experience been?
I was the Head of the Economics department in Delhi. I’m a political scientist and an art historian, so it was great to be in the capital city with its fabulous architecture. I’ve been posted in Pretoria in South Africa, Kampala in Uganda, New Delhi, Rome in Italy and now, Chennai. After Delhi, I was sure I wanted to come to India again, the Southeast of India. So, when the position came up for Consul General, I applied for it. My jurisdiction is Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Together with Hyderabad, this area is one of the power hubs of German industry in India. I came to Chennai with a positive, upbeat mood, and I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, I have adapted pretty well, even to the weather, and a bit of humidity makes you feel better. Of course, I got a warm welcome from my colleagues and my staff at the consulate.
You seem really comfortable here in Chennai.
Relatively speaking, Chennai was a softer landing. I already had connections here, due to my previous role in Delhi, and I’d done a fair amount of research. I can unwind here better, and therefore, work more efficiently. If you go to Marina beach or Kapaleeshwarar temple or Mahabalipuram, within one hour, you are somewhere completely different from the hustle and bustle of a big city. I also live at a walking distance from my work, so that really makes it easier.
What is your key agenda here as Consul General?
My key agenda is two-fold. Firstly, it is to be informed better about what we are doing here. German interests and engagements are diverse. Besides Indo-German industry and investments, we have cooperation projects in Coimbatore, our ‘Smart City’. We are also supporting Chennai in the field of water and green urban transport.I want to make this strong partnership more recognisable, not only for the Tamil Nadu government, but also for our German institutions here and back home. I believe that the nexus between industry and science is crucial. I want to add more to the profile of German engagement in the Southeast.Of course, I am supported by the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce, our agency for academic exchange, DAAD and the well-known Goethe Institute, all with offices in Chennai.