Maximilian Meintgens (’17) is using his MBA in Aviation to invent a new airline for Lufthansa Group. He is also enriching the Embry-Riddle alumni network in Germany.
Both priorities reflect a core value best expressed in his native German: Gemütlichkeit. The word conveys good cheer, comfort and a sense of belonging and acceptance.
As the director of Product & Marketing at Eurowings Discover — Lufthansa’s new tourist airline launched in 2021 — Meintgens and his team express this concept with the airline’s signature fresh-baked cookie aroma that greets passengers. As an alumni network leader, a similarly warm welcome is evident in the tours he leads for visiting students, and biergarten gatherings and dinners he hosts for study abroad participants.
College of Aviation students have the opportunity to participate in a European summer program that ends with Meintgens’ employer, Lufthansa Group, at its headquarters in Frankfurt. They come away with more appreciation for the international impact of aviation. Meintgens has a similar role in guiding alumni through aviation in Germany.
“I am extremely proud of how Max continues to grow our alumni engagement activities in Germany,” says Edmund Odartey, Executive Director of Alumni Engagement. “On my last visit to Frankfurt, Max did an exceptional job of hosting an alumni reception and later organized a trip to Ramstein Air Base.”
Meintgens’ life and career are all about making connections, and he keeps Embry-Riddle at the center of his professional network. “When I go to conferences, I always wear something with the Embry-Riddle logo,” he says.
Since budgeting frequent flier miles isn’t an issue, he makes frequent trips back to the U.S. and visits Daytona Beach to connect with his network there, including David B. O’Maley College of Business professor Janet Tinoco. He also visits Communication professor Sally Blomstrom and her husband, Bill Thompson, Executive Director of Engagement Initiatives and Heritage Project. As an international student, he remembers Thanksgiving dinners as their guest. “We played with the dogs, ate turkey and went for a long walk on the beach.” The gracious gesture helped create a sense of family at Embry-Riddle that remains with him.
Cultural immersion through study abroad has practical value in Meintgens’ eyes.
“In aviation, more than almost any industry, you work across different cultures,” he says. When I was in my first years as a consultant, one of my projects was aircraft painting. Even though we are a German airline, our aircraft is painted in Singapore, Dublin, Eastern Europe — and A380s are always painted in China. It is super important to develop intercultural skills.”
He started expanding his cultural contacts as a student. “The first time I met people from India and China was at Embry-Riddle as a graduate student.”
It’s these connections that lead to career success.
“Embry-Riddle is an amazing university. You don’t pay your tuition to sit in the class. You pay the tuition for the amazing alumni network and the help from Alumni Engagement and Career Services.”
His pitch to fellow alumni to encourage their engagement is simple and heartfelt: “You were once in that position, so imagine how cool it would be if when you were a student, alumni gave you a kickstart. And you gain a broader network. Maybe in five years, you will be the one who needs the help of another graduate already at a company where you want to be.”
Driving Change and Maintaining Quality
Meintgens got to where he wanted to be starting with an Embry-Riddle career fair where he made a contact that led to an extended internship and trainee program at Lufthansa Cargo in Atlanta. His earliest consulting project was colorful. He was part of rebranding that removed yellow from Lufthansa’s long-established livery. It was an early lesson in bringing change to a large company and the public. He also learned that redesigns are not always universally or immediately popular — a perspective that serves him as he introduces new service concepts.
“I always want to focus on the whole customer journey and what we can do for customers.”
As the team leader for product, marketing and customer experience, he sometimes is a secret shopper of sorts, until he blows his cover by rummaging in the galley.
“I try to book last minute so that the flight attendants or the crew management doesn’t know I’m on board. They find out because I can’t sleep, so I rip the kitchen apart. I go into the galleys and look into everything the caterers did.”
After he finishes these impromptu inspections, he likes to talk to flight attendants, who appreciate the chance to share “What I’ve always wanted to tell corporate!” He welcomes candid feedback and knows firsthand about the challenges of food service after working for Subway Sandwiches in Germany.
Meintgens thinks about a speech Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University to explain his belief about how life unfolds.
“He told students that life was about connecting dots. Even when it seems that something is not going your way, you will look back and understand, ‘Oh, I did that job and that job and that job, and it all led me to where I am today.’”