In an eclectic career spanning banking, property and jewellery, Heinz Junkermann certainly knew the power of spotting new business opportunities. It’s a skill which he has passed on to his entrepreneur daughter Nicole. Patrica Cullen reports.
Diversify or die: it’s one of the mantras of the modern business world; the ability to find and exploit new opportunities and revenue streams now seen the key to survival in crowded markets. The pandemic has hastened this trend towards diversification, with many organisation suddenly finding their traditional business models ripped from underneath their feet.
One businessperson who was ahead of his time when it came to understanding the importance of diversification was Heinz Junkermann.
Born in Frankfurt in 1928, Junkermann began his career as a banker at a time when West Germany was undergoing its <Wirtschaftswunder> (economic miracle) as it rose from the ashes of World War II devastation to become one of the most developed nations in Europe.
As this fast-paced economic growth slowed during the 1950s, high-yielding investments became less readily available. Junkermann saw that there was a growing demand amongst the upper classes for trusted financial advice. Rather than waiting for the industry to adapt to the times, Heinz seized the opportunity to lead its evolution, founding a private banking institution for high-net worth individuals.
The success of this venture did not stop Junkermann from looking for opportunities in other sectors to expand his portfolio. The German housing market had suffered greatly as a result of both World Wars. Junkermann saw the market for the growth opportunity that it was and moved into the real estate industry, becoming managing director of property company IFG Gesellschaft für Immobilienbesitz mbH. As foreseen by Junkermann, house prices rose at an annual rate of 4% throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Junkermann refused to settle for success in just two industries, this time looking to the jewellery sector as a means of further diversifying his business interests. Specifically, Junkermann took to the manufacturing of jewellery cases through his company Schmuck-Kassette GmbH. In a time where most remained in one profession throughout their career, Junkermann showed great enthusiasm to be bold in business and search for new opportunities where others were not looking.
There was also a fun, convivial side to Junkermann too: he was a committee member of the Prinzengarde Düsseldorf Blau-Weiss, lending his business skills to Düsseldorf’s largest carnival society.
Junkermann passed away in 2011 at the age of 83, passing on his entrepreneurial spirit to daughter Nicole. Just like her father, Nicole Junkermann has also refused to pigeon-hole herself into a single profession or industry. Having founded businesses in the sport, media, and technology sectors after graduating from university, Nicole Junkermann transitioned from entrepreneur to investor.
She also looks to industry disruptors for returns, echoing the way in which her father would once seek out innovative, but possibly risky, new business opportunities. Through her company, NJF Capital, Nicole Junkermann has invested in cutting-edge FemTech, FoodTech, and healthcare companies. Having been exposed to her father’s business from an early age, translating for him in meetings at the age of 12, it is no surprise to see that Nicole Junkermann is well aware of the benefits that a diverse business portfolio and a willingness to be bold can bring.