Helmut Schönleber

Helmut Schönleber

Vocational Education & Sustainable Development of Business Communities

Expertise: development and implementation of international cooperation projects with a focus on vocational education and training, regional economic policy, business communities and private sector development.

Regional experience in Germany (home), China (18 years), and the USA (3 years), multiple short-term assignments in Afghanistan and the Lao PDR.

Contact Data

Professional History and Education

07/2008 - 03/2015 Senior Programme Director (China)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, China.

Head of six Sino-German development cooperation programmes in vocational education and regional economic policy. Full HR, budget, and results responsibility. Member of GIZ China strategy leading group. Head of an intercultural policy advisory and project implementation team of 20 Chinese and 3 German members. Project offices in Beijing, Shenyang, Nanchang, and Shanghai. Coordinated programme measures with national and provincial partner ministries as well as German enterprises.

Received the Friendship Award of Liaoning Province  in 2010.

07/2006 - 07/2008 Freelance Consultant (Lao PDR, Afghanistan)

Series of missions to Lao PDR for UNIDO on improving organizational structure, management, and legal framework of Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) and selected regional chambers and business associations in Laos.

Multiple short-term missions to Afghanistan for the German Federal Foreign Affairs Department through GTZ and SEQUA. Provided consultancy to the Chamber Reform Commission, supported merger of organizations.

03/2005 - 06/2006 Business Community Development Expert (China)

Long-term expert with Sequa gGmbH

Project office in Hefei, Anhui Province, China

Implemented the Sino-German SME Promotion Programme’s “BMO Development Component”. Programme was financed by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through GTZ. Developed and carried out a concept on institution building for business membership organizations (BMOs). Planned, organized, implemented consulting and training activities for leaders and staff of BMOs, government, and enterprises. Organized multiple matchmaking events and visits with Chinese and European small and medium-sized enterprises.

03/2003 - 02/2005 CCI Team Leader (Germany)

Team Leader of Information Services, Industrie- und Handelskammer Darmstadt (Darmstadt Chamber of Commerce and Industry)

Headed a newly established team of eight members which combined the former Information Services, Library, Archives, and Membership Data Sections. Developed and implemented a concept to introduce a customer-friendly information and communication system. Coaching of chamber staff in internal user trainings. Developed IHK websites on international business matching and marketing of special events.

Short-term consultancy and training missions for IFC / World Bank (CPDF) and Leipzig University (SEPT).

09/1996 - 02/2003 Project Director (China)

Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) / Sequa gGmbH

National management of a partnership project between DIHK and All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC), funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through SEQUA gGmbH. Cooperated regionally with partners in Liaoning, Shandong, Hebei, and Yunnan provinces. Developed the project concept, coordinated and implemented all activities, administered China budget of 2.8 million €. Reported to DIHK, SEQUA, and German Federal Government. Project trained 2,500 Chinese entrepreneurs and 600 chamber leaders in workshops and seminars. Developed trilingual website with 6000 pages and 800 business opportunities.

05/1992 - 08/1996 CCI Deputy Manager (Germany)

Department of Information, Economics, and Foreign Trade, Industrie- und Handelskammer Darmstadt (Darmstadt Chamber of Commerce and Industry)

  • Implemented all business surveys, authored publications on regional economic structure.
  • Developed since 1993 a website of IHK Darmstadt, the first website of any business organization in German speaking Europe.
  • Established regional databases on enterprises and foreign trade.
  • Edited CCI position papers on immigration and foreign economic relations to the state administration, certified foreign trade documents.
  • Chief editor of the “Darmstadt CCI Foreign Trade News”, member of editorial board for monthly CCI magazine.
  • Wrote press releases, organized press conferences.

10/1989 - 04/1992 Data Preparation Coordinator (USA)

Commerce Clearing House, Inc., San Rafael, California, USA

Coordinated data acquisition on tax and securities law for “CCH ACCESS” online database. Managed digitization projects by external subcontractors in Korea and India, worth over $ 1 million. Developed quality evaluation software and authored program specifications to port the data to mainframe servers in SGML format and to implement retrieval functions.

04/1989 - 09/1989 Information Systems Consultant (USA)

German American Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Coast, Inc., San Francisco, California, USA

Four-months project to analyze and improve internal information system. Developed and programmed membership database and German-American Business Information System. Introduced external database retrieval (DIALOG) and international data communication via GEONET.

02/1987 - 03/1989 CCI Official (Germany)

Official in Charge of Technology Transfer, Industrie- und Handelskammer Darmstadt (Darmstadt Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and

Secretary General of Darmstadt Junior Chamber

  • Collected and disseminated to CCI members all relevant information on technological developments.
  • Initiated and coordinated joint working groups of enterprises and universities.
  • Promoted and advocated technology transfer.
  • Planned and organized all activities of the Darmstadt Junior Chamber (Jaycees) with 100 members.
  • Upgraded membership file cards to computer database. Achieved 25% membership growth and 64% budget growth.

09/1983 - 01/1987 Post-graduate studies (China)

Preparation, implementation, and follow-up of a two-year study and research scholarship project in China, funded by Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), and supplemented by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

  • One-year intensive language course in Modern Chinese at Beijing Languages Institute
  • Diploma in Modern Chinese (1985)
  • Research on decision-making and economic reforms in the shipbuilding industry of China at China Renmin University, Beijing
  • Participated in regular classes on Modern Economic History
  • Diploma in Modern Economic History of China (1986)
  • Published a research paper on “The Shipbuilding Industry of China” (Culture and Development in Asia No. 1, Berlin 1985)

09/1982 - 08/1983 Official of Economic Policy Bureau (Germany)

Senate of the City and State of Hamburg

14-months temporary position as a member of the policy advisory team of the Senator for Economics, Transportation, and Agriculture. Focussed on sectoral policy and shipbuilding, improved contacts with business associations. Drafted speeches and research papers for the Senate (government at state level), the City Parliament, and the Federal Lower House. Co-organized major political conferences.

11/1977 - 08/1982 Student of Economics, MA Degree (Germany)

Freie Universität Berlin

Graduated 1982 with a Master’s Degree equivalent (Diplom-Volkswirt) with honors after required minimum number of semesters. Thesis about Lucas supply function. Simultaneously: Participated in voluntary Chinese language classes and APL programming classes.


Regional Economic Development in Northeast China


  • Sino-German government cooperation programme
  • Comissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
  • Implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
  • Chinese lead executive agency: National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)
  • Implementing partners: Liaoning Development and Reform Commission (LNDRC), Jilin Development and Reform Commission (JLDRC), Heilongjiang Development and Reform Commission (HLJDRC), Inner Mongolia Development and Reform Commission (IMDRC), Dalian Development and Reform Commission (DLDRC), Federations of Industry and Commerce (FIC) in Northeast China
  • Main implementation phase: 04/2011 – 03/2015
  • Volume: up to € 4,0 Mio. German contribution, up to € 4,0 Mio. Chinese contribution


The Programme aimed to strengthen the vitality of regional development in Northeast China. It supported cooperation across provinces between government institutions as well as their cooperation with the private sector and the cooperation of German and Chinese enterprises. Northeastern businesses with an interest in foreign trade and establishing subsidiaries in Germany were expected to benefit most.


In order to achieve the goal of regionally coordinated economic development in Northeast China, an Agreement of Implementation was signed between GIZ and the Chinese partners in 2011. Cooperation with regional chambers of commerce has also been triggered to strengthen their capacities to provide service for private sector development. Meanwhile, business relations between Germany and China were also supported through a number of Programme activities.


Since April 2011, a number of joint measures has been developed and implemented by GIZ and partners to improve the environment of regional economic development in the Northeast. They were closely linked to the issues raised at the annual “Northeast Summit” meetings of the governors and party secretaries of the Northeast provinces. The Programme supported cooperation on topics such as non-barrier tourism management, harbor-inland transport system development, employment policies and migration, energy efficient construction, and ecological forest management. It also supported the development of a joint international location marketing strategy of the Northeastern Provinces, facilitated a Public Private Dialog (PPD) on Regional Economic Development and promoted SME development including training for entrepreneurs and FIC personnel in Northeast China. Business relations between Germany and China were initiated through matchmaking events in various sectors.

Vocational Education and Employment Promotion in Jiangxi (China)

Liaoning Employment Promotion and Training (China)

Inhalt des Toggles hier rein

Regional Cooperation Platform for Vocational Educators (Asia)

Inhalt des Toggles hier rein

Capacity Building for Sustainable Economic Development (China)

Inhalt des Toggles hier rein

Sino-German Automotive Vocational Education (China)

Inhalt des Toggles hier rein

Chamber Development in Afghanistan

Inhalt des Toggles hier rein

Chamber Development in the Lao PDR

Inhalt des Toggles hier rein

Small and Medium Enterprises Development (China)

Inhalt des Toggles hier rein

DIHK - ACFIC Chamber Partnership (China)

Inhalt des Toggles hier rein