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GABA Gala 2017 will honor outstanding German American business persons with the GABA Award of Excellence.

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GABA Award of Excellence 2017

Prof. Dr.h.c. Hartmut Esslinger
Co-Founder and long-time CEO of global innovation firm Frog Design

Hartmut Esslinger Hartmut Esslinger was the first designer to bring human-driven, high-touch design to world of complex hardware and software technology. Business Week, who featured him on the cover in 1990, called him the most influential American industrial designer since the 1930s and the first Superstar of High-Tech Design.

In 1969, at age 25, Hartmut Esslinger founded frog design in Germany and expanded the company to the United States in 1982. Together with his wife and business partner Patricia Roller he created the world's most prominent and successful strategic design agency. In 2005, frog design was sold to venture backed Flextronics, and eventually to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., and Hartmut Esslinger and Patricia Roller remained investors. Today, frog design employs about 400 strategists, designers and technology specialists in numerous studios around the world.

For the last 38 years, Hartmut Esslinger has worked with some of the most prestigious global companies. For example, he helped companies such as Sony, Apple, Louis Vuitton, SAP, Lufthansa and Microsoft to convert their technological competences and entrepreneurial desire into emotionally appealing global brands.

Hartmut also engages in educating and mentoring young designers. He is a founding professor of the Hochschule fuer Gestaltung (College for Design) in Karlsruhe, Germany, was a professor for convergent industrial design at the University for Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria (2006 - 2011), and is a professor for strategic design and innovation at Fudan/SIVA University in Shanghai (since 2011). He received an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts from the Parson New School of Design, New York (1994) as well as various lifetime achievement awards around the world.

Patricia Birgit Roller
Co-Founder of Frog Design and Strategic Advisor

 Patricia Roller Patricia Roller is a pioneer in the integration of design, technology and business. She was born in Germany where she studied languages before coming to the United States in 1984.

As former Co-CEO of frog design, a global design and strategy firm, she brought a creative and hands-on leadership style to managing major accounts in sectors ranging from hi-tech, entertainment, medical, mobile services and automotive. This included working with global companies such as Apple, HP, Motorola, Lufthansa, Disney's consumer electronics division and Siemens.

She is currently the CEO of Vidlet, Inc., an innovative video management and mobile SaaS solution. Patricia has served as director on the boards of BlinkTwice and Jimmy Jane, has been an advisor to Flextronics and is an active investor in design-driven technology and telecommunications startup companies

Patricia speaks frequently on innovation, entrepreneurship and venture capital as a guest lecturer at UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon and Fudan/SIVA University in China.

GABA Award History

Margit Wennmachers The 2016 GABA Award winner was Margit Wennmachers. She is a partner at Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), a preeminent Silicon Valley venture capital firm with investments in marquee companies such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Airbnb, and Quirky. Best known for her ability to create market-leading brands, Margit is a16z's chief marketer advising the firm and entrepreneurs on their communications and marketing strategies. An entrepreneur herself, in 1997, Margit cofounded the leading marketing and communications firm, The OutCast Agency, who today partners with leaders and disruptors like American Express, Box, Instragram, Jawbone, Sephora, Starwood, Facebook, and more. She has been in technology marketing for 20+ years, is a mentor to countless individuals in the technology and marketing industries, and serves on the board of the World Affairs Council.

Hasso Plattner The 2015 GABA Award winner was Prof. Dr. h.c. mult. Hasso Plattner. He is one of the founders of SAP and has been Chairman of the Supervisory Board since May 2003. In this role and as Chief Software Advisor he concentrates on defining the medium and long-term technology strategy of SAP. He also heads the Technology Committee of the SAP Supervisory Board. In 1972 Hasso Plattner and four colleagues left IBM in order to found SAP (Systems, Applications, Products). When SAP went public in 1988 Hasso was appointed Vice Chairman of the Executive Board. From 1997 to May 2003 he was Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of SAP. In May 2003 he was elected to the SAP Supervisory Board and took over the chairmanship from co-founder Dietmar Hopp.

Sebastian Thrun In 2014 our awardee was Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity, a company with the mission to democratize higher education. Previously, he was a Google Fellow and the founder of Google X, and a Stanford professor of computer science and electrical engineering.

Andreas Bechtolsheim Gerhard Casper In 2013 we honored Andreas Bechtolsheim, Arista Networks, Inc with the GABA Award in Business and Gerhard Casper, President Emeritus of Stanford University Professor of Law, Emeritus; Peter and Helen Bing Professor in Undergraduate Education, Emeritus; Director and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI Stanford) with the GABA Award in Education/Research.