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Mr Karayüz, how would you describe the insurance agency of the future on Kottbusser Strasse?

It’s a real oasis of well-being in an extremely exciting location, based on a co-working concept for people from the financial services industry. Allianz supports it with strong administrative capabilities and also provides the business foundations on which it is built. Some of the people who work there are our employees from the Allianz general agency and others are freelancers who use this technology hub as a base for their work developing digital solutions for the insurance sector. The coffee counter at the entrance forms the heart of the space.
 

What did the people who live in Kreuzberg – or ‘36’ – have to say about Allianz moving in next door?

There was some scepticism to start with, of course, but once they realised that a Turk from Kreuzberg was behind it all, that quickly dissipated.
 

Your own office is on Friedrichstrasse, Berlin Mitte, so you moved back to your childhood home with your insurance agency of the future...

Yes, that’s true. Although Kreuzberg has changed a lot over the last few years, I’m still very fond of the area and we have always tried to make a positive difference to the neighbourhood – as a company too. For example, we help ensure that empty shops are let to local retailers instead of, say, an amusement arcade operator, even though the latter may well be more profitable for the landlord. The same applies to our new premises in the old bank building right by Kottbusser Tor. Of course it’s not always easy being right next to Kottbusser Tor underground station with its aggressive drug scene, but we’re helping to make sure the area doesn’t degenerate.
 

The insurance industry isn’t one of the first sectors that springs to mind as offering modern concepts for the working world of tomorrow...

I developed a concept for Allianz which ensures that we attract more young people to the insurance industry. It spans everything from using modern forms of communication such as social media for recruitment, to taking a totally different approach to training young men and women as insurance experts. Our style of training takes ten weeks instead of the usual 13 months. To update our image, we have presented ourselves exactly the way we are: young, dynamic, digital and emotive. This also has to be reflected in the way we treat one another, the design of our offices, the furniture and the location. We have done all of this with the insurance agency of the future and it has proved successful: we are now changing the insurance market throughout Europe. I train executives both within Germany and internationally on the subject of the insurance agency of the future.
 

Your landlord at the Kreuzberg site is Deutsche Wohnen...

Yes, that’s right. Back in the day, my father had a good relationship with GSW and later with Deutsche Wohnen. Together, we have helped with a lot of commercial space lettings in the area. That proved successful with our co-working space too. In the future, we want to step up our work with other local partners because we want to significantly improve Kottbusser Strasse and Kottbusser Damm, make it a better place to live and turn it into an attractive shopping street. To succeed, we need the backing of business people, politicians, the authorities – and Deutsche Wohnen.

After the rebuild

After the rebuild

After the rebuild

After the rebuild

Before the rebuild

Before the rebuild