Profile of Christoph Pleitgen

Ismail Akwei

Screenshot 2023 11 06 at 12.20.53 Large

Christoph Pleitgen is the Managing Director of the Westerwelle Foundation, a non-profit founded in 2013 by the former German Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Guido Westerwelle and entrepreneur Ralph Dommermuth.

Christoph is leading the organisation to empower entrepreneurs in Africa, Asia and Latin America by creating opportunities for young people through support programmes.

He comes from a family of journalists as his father worked with German public television and his brother is currently a senior correspondent with CNN based in Ukraine. His exposure to journalism directed his career as he joined Reuters in the sales department and ended up running the news agency.

“I joined Reuters and I worked always on the commercial or business side. So I’m not a journalist, but I’ve worked very closely with journalists for a good number of time. I was initially in sales and business development roles and later ended up running the Reuters news agency. At the time, that was a business of approximately 350 million USD with thousands of customers around the world; Al Jazeera, CNN and what have you, the BBC and many others,” he explained to Qonversations.

Christoph was born in Germany and as a child, he lived in several countries. “I come from a family of journalists, which means I’ve spent most of my life abroad. I was born in Germany, and then in the early seventies as a small child, moved to the Soviet Union and then lived in East Germany at a time when Germany was still divided, and the U.S. I’ve lived as an adult in the Netherlands, I’ve lived in Germany, I’ve lived in Switzerland, in the UK, in the US again. So I’ve been around the block.” 

He left Reuters in 2012 and worked with tech start-ups with a “full spectrum of start-up experiences”. In 2021, he moved back to Germany from the UK for personal reasons and after two years, “I said it was time again to focus a bit more on myself and to look for the next challenge. And that’s why I am with the Westerwelle Foundation. So I’m the first to say I have lots to learn about Africa in particular. I’m not an NGO person, you know, that’s not where I come from. I’m a Start-Up person, I’m a salesperson, and I’m someone with lots and lots of international experience, and that’s what I’m looking to apply.”

His guiding principle is to be curious and not to assume that the way things are at home is how things will be in other parts of the world. 

“So I always go into a foreign culture or foreign environment with a massive sense of curiosity, humility to wanting to learn and really letting my thinking be influenced by that. And I would say, finally, you know, I am someone who gets very motivated by interacting with other people. That’s where I get my energy from, and that’s why I feel I’ve got a pretty good job for that,” he told Qonversations.  

More from Qonversations


Screenshot 2024 02 09 at 10.47.42

Profile of Chike Ukaegbu


Screenshot 2024 01 19 at 07.18.07

Profile of Ashley Parasram


Screenshot 2024 01 06 at 12.49.51 Large

Profile of Crispin Flintoff


Screenshot 2023 12 14 at 16.00.54 Large

Profile of Elliot Nuertey

Front of mind