At IE University, one of our key priorities is sustainability, as we believe we are nothing without our future. A key aspect of this concerns sustainable urban development. We recently caught up with Stefanie Horn, who is currently working as business development manager of new technologies at FUJITSU. She has a unique perspective on how urban development can change for the better and the value of sustainability in our current landscape.

“I think nowadays, it’s super important to put sustainability at the core of decisions. It’s like a framing, like putting on glasses and looking at a smart city, and always asking what can we do to make our city more liveable and future-proof?”
—Stefanie Horn 

Stefanie Horn got into urban studies because wanted to make a difference—an impact that went beyond her day-to-day life. With this in mind, she started looking for a new field of work and settled on digital transformation. She wanted to understand new technologies, apply them to her everyday work, and decided that the smart city would be the perfect focus for her, in line with her goal to drive a positive impact with a global reach. 

Thanks to her experience in urban development so far, Stefanie has a unique understanding of what makes good urban studies. 

“I think urban studies should teach students how to learn independently and how to track trends. It should also teach students how to do agile business modeling and understand that you need to have a big picture and integrate the citizens.”

—Stefanie Horn

Agile Business Modeling and Collaboration in Smart City Development

Stefanie highlighted the importance of teaching students how to do agile business modeling, including how to apply business model canvas methods. She says, “It’s not just about technology or architecture, you always need to see that we are doing all the smart city work to make our cities more liveable and future-proof.” 

In the long term, Stefanie hopes that her team’s work in the field of smart cities will contribute to making cities more sustainable, that they will make a real difference and reduce the energy consumption of buildings.

In her current role, she focuses on intermodal mobility and sustainable logistics, under the topics of sustainable property management and energy management. She engages with customers and partners, often in a co-creation ecosystem, so Stefanie is lucky to fully understand the importance of “collaboration to learn from each other, step out of our comfort zone, and also be challenged by other ways of working, and by different ideas and perspectives.”

Making a global impact is an immense goal, but Stefanie remains humble and highlights how, although we individually only contribute one piece to the puzzle, with other stakeholders in the ecosystem, together we can make a real difference.
Our Bachelor in Urban Studies at IE University prepares students to take on the complex challenges associated with urban development through hands-on projects, often in group settings. Stefanie highlights the value of programs like the Bachelor in Urban Studies, as it is particularly important to have skills in co-creation in today’s business environment. She also stresses the importance of being able to innovate and co-create using different methods—and doesn’t underestimate the value of soft skills, either.

“I think they also need a lot of empathy and openness to work with a lot of different stakeholders. These are the people you need to work with, it’s all about people, and the right people need to get together.”
—Stefanie Horn

Resilience, stamina and expertise are also key skills that Stefanie cites as important when working with cities. Our Bachelor in Urban Studies is tailored toward honing these skills and provides students with a broad view of the landscape they are facing. 

“New professionals need to have a little expertise in all kinds of fields. They don’t need to make a deep dive, but they need to have a general understanding, for instance, what are the main technologies; the technology trends that are going to shape our smart cities of the future, and who are able to make a real impact with looking into.”
—Stefanie Horn

Career Opportunities in Smart Cities for Students with Urban Studies Degree

It’s an exciting time to be working with cities, because you can make a real impact and be a piece of the puzzle in saving our future. Stefanie finds the opportunity to make a city more liveable and sustainable very rewarding, and appreciates how she is always learning as part of her role. 

However, Stefanie is also inspired by the future, noting the positive outlook for today’s students: 

“I think there are huge career opportunities for students who are going to graduate soon or now because this field of smart cities is getting more and more important. And it’s very diverse. I think you can do jobs like I’m doing, like business development, applying a lot of innovation methods, and co-creating with customers. But you can also choose to go down a much more technical path and be someone who’s actually programming solutions, coming up with algorithms in the field of AI, solving problems—or another field, which is so important, is design.”

The Bachelor in Urban Studies at IE University uniquely positions students to expertly face the challenges of our complex tomorrow. Urban studies is a constant learning curve to which our students skilfully adapt, leading the way to a better tomorrow.

More of the Chats with Stefanie Horn

Can you envision the cities of tomorrow? The Bachelor in Urban Studies is for you!