Dr. Amel Karboul: “I am a person who loves to be free”
Name: Dr. Amel Karboul
Lives in: Tunisia
Country of origin: Tunisia
Period in Germany: DAAD Scholarship 1991–1996
Education and research institution: University of Karlsruhe
Occupation: Manager, former Tunisian Tourism Minister
After 24 years in Europe, she returned to her home country. Born in 1973, Amel Karboul helped shape Tunisia’s future for a year after she became the country’s tourism minister in January 2014. “Tunisia, together with the DAAD, made it possible for me to study in Germany.” In political office, she felt she could give something back and be part of an important moment in history. Amel Karboul is proud of her country and always kept in close touch with people back home: “We have so many treasures in this country: Carthage, the amphitheatre at El Djem and many Roman remains, the desert in the south and the mountains in the north.”
Karboul herself finds it not the least bit difficult to tell visitors from abroad about her country’s merits. The former minister speaks seven languages and is entirely comfortable dealing with foreign cultures. Before becoming minister for tourism, she worked for several years as an employee or partner in major consultancy firms and then set up her own company in 2007. Called Change, Leadership & Partners, it boasts offices in Cologne, Tunis, London and Virginia. Karboul advises top-level managers and travels all over the world. At the same time, she looks after her two daughters, a job she shares with her German husband Marcus Gottschalk, who is also a partner in her company.
“I am a person who loves to be free. I was greatly influenced by the independence and autonomy I enjoyed during my studies in Germany.”
Combining a career with having children requires the sort of talent for organisation that Karboul already demonstrated while studying in Germany. A former DAAD Scholarship holder, she studied mechanical engineering at the University of Karlsruhe, completing her degree in just eight semesters and coming top of her year. She particularly appreciated the freedom students at German universities have to work as they choose, and the German mentality is something Karboul values to this day: “I simply like their direct and open approach. People work independently and at the same time question themselves. They are critical and attempt to view the world from a different perspective. That’s why Germany boasts such innovative talent.”
During her term in office, Amel Karboul pursued ambitious goals: “I want to rescue not just one season but twenty. I believe it’s important to have a long-term vision – perhaps that’s the German side of me. And if I’m only able to take the first two steps, the person that succeeds me will take the next ones.” Since 2015, the businesswoman has been Secretary-General of the Maghreb Economic Forum besides remaining on the board of her company.