Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals

2005 Recipients

Michael Illbruck, Germany
B.S. Business (1985)
M.B.A. (1987)

Michael IllbruckMichael Illbruck is a distinguished alumnus of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota where he earned a bachelor of science degree in business in 1985 and his master's of business administration in 1987. He was first introduced to Minnesota through his company's office in Minneapolis and has always credited his American educational experience as giving him the capacity for flexible thinking and broad perspective necessary to succeed in today's global business arena.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Illbruck became CEO of the company founded by his parents in 1952. The company, illbruck International, GmbH, produces flexible industrial building materials. Between 1988 and 2001, the company grew from 500 to 13,000 employees, increased its revenue from $50 million to $1.3 billion, and expanded from a mid-sized European company to a global company with 65 facilities in 40 countries, including U.S. headquarters in Minneapolis.

Subsequently, in an exercise of decisive and visionary leadership in response to a changing business climate, Michael Illbruck took the difficult decision to streamline the company and reorganize. In 2003, the company had 24 facilities and 1,100 employees worldwide with about $200 million in revenue. He achieved this by taking risks but coupling his approach with a real commitment to the well being of the company's employees and customers.

Despite the heavy demands of running an international business, Mr. Illbruck has continued to maintain close and mutually beneficial ties with the University of Minnesota. As an example of his commitment to life-long international education, he worked with the Carlson School to develop a customized program for his company's middle- to upper-level managers in information technology. In May 2000, the Carlson School sent one of its professors to present a program to 250 of illbruck's top executives in Germany.

Mr. Illbruck has been generous in support of others seeking the type of education of which he himself was a beneficiary. He has funded the Illbruck International Business Fellows Program for MBA students and provided seed funding for the Carlson School's MBA programs in Vienna and China.

In naming Michael Illbruck a recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals, the selection committee recognized him for his visionary leadership. They saw this as the crucial factor in allowing his family-owned company, founded in the very different era of post World War II, "to evolve and flourish in an increasingly sophisticated global marketplace."