WHU’s Executive Education #2 in Germany
WHU among Germany’s best Executive Education program providers, placing #33 worldwide in the 2024 Financial Times ranking for Open Programs.Learn more!


FT Executive Education Ranking: #33 in the Open Programs Category

The Financial Times has issued the latest edition of its Executive Education Ranking, taking a close look at programs designed specifically for experienced business leaders and other professionals. WHU’s Open Programs have been ranked #33 worldwide in the recent Financial Times Executive Education Ranking 2024 and maintains its position at #2 in Germany. The Open Programs performed noticeably well in the categories “preparation”, “international participants”, and “satisfaction with faculty”. The Customized Programs have been placed at #57 worldwide, #3 in Germany. They performed specifically well in the categories “partner schools”, “aims achieved", and “teaching methods and materials”.

About the Financial Times Executive Education Ranking

The Financial Times Executive Education Ranking is the most important Business School ranking for university-based Executive Education providers. The ranking is published once per year, being a reliable source of information for managers and executives looking for a further education training.To be ranked by the FT, business schools must be recognized by at least one of the main accreditation agencies, the AACSB (American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business) and (EFMD European Quality Improvement System). Additionally, they need to have reported annual revenues of at least $1mn generated from their Customized or Open Programs. For Open Programs this year’s ranking lists 80 schools in total, for Customized Programs 90 schools are listed. The rankings results are calculated on the basis of statistical information provided by the Business Schools and participant surveys. This year’s ranking methodology can be found here.


Why Do We Need Education on AI? Are Artificial Intelligence and Politics Compatible?

Like any major technological innovation, technology can be used for good and bad purposes and can be used with good and bad intentions. That was the case when a finance worker at a multinational firm was tricked into paying out $25 million to fraudsters using deep fake technology to pose as the company’s chief financial officer in a video conference call.

In his article, “The Dark Side of Superhuman Persuasion: Why We Need Education on Generative AI,” Professor Dries Faems, Chair of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technological Transformation at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and leading expert in the field of AI, laid out the risks and threats of the new emerging technology.


  1. Advanced AI systems can potentially influence human behavior and decision-making to a much greater extent than humans can.
  2. The GPT Builder application called the Election Persuader, showcases the ability of AI to tailor communications based on individual profiles and preferences, potentially influencing political decisions. The power of AI in crafting messages that resonate on a personal level could have significant implications for the future of advertising, campaigning, and even interpersonal communication.
  3. Education is essential in the face of rapidly advancing AI technologies. While regulation is necessary, it often lags behind technological innovation, making it difficult to manage the implications of AI globally.

Professor Faems writes that superhuman persuasion is the concept where advanced AI systems can significantly influence human decision-making by utilizing large datasets and algorithms to create highly personalized messages. This capability allows AI to connect with individuals on a deeply personal level, making it more effective than traditional human communication.

While Professor Faems adds that Sam Altman, CEO of Open AI, discussed this as a potential risk in AI development, Professor Faems illustrates that the application called “Election Persuader” was created using GPT Builder. This chatbot can craft customized emails to voters, encouraging them to support a particular political party based on their interests and beliefs. The “Election Persuader” requires the user to upload a political party’s program and a LinkedIn profile to generate a persuasive email. This application demonstrates the potential of AI to tailor persuasive messages that can appeal to individuals’ specific preferences, even if they initially seem unlikely to support the cause.

The conversation on AI is often complex, and the importance of these issues highlight the need for a comprehensive approach. Following up on his article, we had a short interview with Professor Faems:

- Professor Faems, there are voters voting in elections all around the world this year, and we now know that AI is increasingly being used to manipulate voters with tailored content. How can the public and tech companies keep up with this?

Keeping up will be quite challenging as the technology is developing at exponential speed. Nevertheless, we should make sure that citizens are at least aware about what is happening to improve their ability to recognize the difference between content created by humans and content created by AI. In my opinion, educational institutions at all levels of the educational trajectory should start thinking about how they can prepare their students for these challenges.

- How transparent should technology companies be about their use of AI?

At the technological level, transparency is good but will not be sufficient. The problem is that technology companies themselves do not fully understand how these AI technologies exactly work. At the application level, companies should indeed be obliged to clearly disclose which AI technologies have been used for particular applications and how they are used.

What happens next?

While A.I. has taken a giant leap forward — and is evolving so rapidly that it is hard to keep up with the state of play. The big question remains, “How do we actually equip youth, our current generation and future today with AI skills and do it with diversity and inclusion?” and “How do we not leave people and students further behind when much remains unknown about the technology even as its development speeds ahead?”

Are you interested in learning more about AI and its potential to facilitate your daily work?

Save a spot in our bootcamp: Unlocking the Power of ChatGPT and Generative AI for Business Development, in which Professor Faems will give an introduction on how to write effective prompts, combine different AI tools, and develop agents to execute tasks in the context of specific use cases. Registration is open until June 7th, 2024.


New International Executive Education Program for Sports Business

Sports business needs experts capable of rising to the challenges posed by the modern era. With the world of sports becoming more digital, international, and in need of future-proof strategies, three of Europe’s top business schools—WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Düsseldorf, Germany; the Stockholm School of Economics in Sweden; and ESSEC Business School in Paris, France—have announced the European Sports Business Program (ESBP), a new business management executive education offering scheduled to debut on February 14, 2024, and to run until late-May. This program, the first of its kind, has been designed for professionals with a growth-oriented mindset and a strong interest in how the European sports industry functions at its very core.

The program comprises three distinct on-site, English-language modules, each taking place over the course of three days—and in three major cities across Europe. Under the supervision of Professor Sascha L. Schmidt (Director and Chairholder at WHU’s Center for Sports and Management), Professor Martin Carlsson-Wall (Director of the Center for Sports and Business at SSE), and Professor Karoline Strauss (ESSEC Sports Chair), participants will not only learn new skills. They will have a complete experience, gathering with like-minded future leaders and building a strong, international network of their peers. They will become proficient in state-of-the-art techniques for systematically analyzing and leveraging the future efficiently. And, finally, they will delve into the pivotal roles that leadership, purpose, and culture play in effectively managing change at sports organizations. “We aim to provide our participants with a forward-thinking perspective that prepares them to seize opportunities and manage risks in the changing sports industry,” said Professor Sascha L. Schmidt.

Further details on the European Sports Business Program can be found at the program’s website.


Insider's View: Ivan Kitta on WHU’s Advanced Management for Senior Leaders Program

Ivan Kitta is Head of Marketing at GoodMills Deutschland: Aurora Mühlen and Müller’s Mühle, as well as Kellogg-WHU EMBA alumnus (EMBA 2020). In fall 2022, he participated in WHU Executive Education’s Advanced Management for Senior Leaders Program (previously named Advanced Management for Senior Professionals Program) in fall 2022. This article unfolds Ivan's reflections, offering a glimpse into the invaluable experiences gained during this empowering program.

"I met a group of highly motivated senior professionals from very different backgrounds: entrepreneurs as well as executives from investment banking, financial services, automotive, and consumer goods sectors. The spirit to excel in business leadership was amazing and lasted throughout all the modules and sessions of the program. I felt privileged to work with my high-caliber peers.

The mix of classic lectures with professors and interactive group work with peers was just perfect and allowed in-depth learning and networking. Professor Jürgen Weigand led us through the main building blocks of a business strategy, providing a step-by-step guide to develop your own business strategy. It was very hands-on and practical. The session, Managing the Unexpected, by Assistant Professor Lukas Löhlein was a great opportunity to discuss sources of strategic risks and strategic choices to manage uncertainty in business. Furthermore, Professor Dries Faems gave a deep dive into disruptive innovation: Starting with Serious Lego Play, we ended up setting up a test for a rapidly developed disruptive minimum viable product for working from home.

The sessions with James Healy (Olivier Mythodrama™) and Karsten Drath (Leadership Choices) gave a different view on leadership and individual resilience. James Healy’s Olivier Mythodrama™ was a top-class exercise in leadership psychology and behavior using core leadership archetypes when facing and managing unprecedented challenges. Executive coach Karsten Drath helped deepen one’s self-awareness as the inner source of resilience. I had the opportunity to practice various techniques and tools as well as peer coaching. In the end, Karsten helped me as well as every other program participant develop one’s individual leadership commitment.

Online sessions with Matthias Hartmann, CEO of Techem Energy Services GmbH and WHU Senior Fellow, and Tobias Rölz, Executive VP at Komax and Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA graduate, provided best practice examples of business leadership in the current #vuca world.

My main gain is the confidence to instantly use the tools and techniques whenever and wherever needed for dealing with my peers and clients. Since I could practice them in the course, I know what and how effectively works for me. I learned the habit of regularly nourishing self-reflection and thereby improving my self-awareness when coping with challenging situations, both expected and unexpected."

About the program

Designed to challenge your view on transformation, executive decision-making, and networked leadership, the Advanced Management for Senior Leaders Program will spark conversations with your peers and faculty. This empowering program consists of two in-class modules, comprised of 3 days each, and additional short online sessions in between modules.

As a takeaway, you will enhance your strategic impact and be ready to compete in market environments with disruptive innovators.


Changing the World One Social Enterprise at a Time

Dr. Carsten Rübsaamen knows one thing for sure: “A truly authentic leader can only make a difference if they wholeheartedly believe in what they are doing.” Together with his co-founders, this enthusiastic boy scout and graduate of WHU’s Doctoral Program started the social enterprise BOOKBRIDGE in 2009. The idea? To provide today’s leaders and talent an education in entrepreneurship that assumes a “learning by doing” approach. The goal? The creation of new social enterprises in areas of the world sorely needing them—and the sustainable improvement of the lives and career prospects of the people residing there.

BOOKBRIDGE and WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management jointly offer General Management Plus (GMP+), an executive education offering that combines the latter’s Management Essentials Program with the former’s Capability Program. In this interview, Dr. Rübsaamen gives insight into the program and the incredible impact it has on participants, their companies, and society as a whole.

Carsten, you co-founded your social enterprise BOOKBRIDGE in 2009. What is the company’s goal?

BOOKBRIDGE combines social entrepreneurship with managerial development. With our curriculum that focuses on experiential learning, managers start their own social enterprises in parts of the world that need them most—for example, a study center in Mongolia or a water start-up in Africa. They learn to assume an entrepreneurial mindset and management style and they get a masterclass in values-based leadership. And while doing so, they help improve the lives and career prospects of thousands of people.

We give managers an opportunity to take on new responsibilities and have a positive impact on the world—and to learn a ton and grow on a personal level. Anyone who participates in our program is not just honing crucial business and leadership skills. They’re joining an interdisciplinary and international team and becoming true social entrepreneurs.

For one of these management programs, you’ve opted to work with WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, where you yourself studied. And together, you have been offering the GMP+ Program to prospective leaders for years now. How does your collaboration differentiate itself from other management education programs?

The GMP+ Program combines theory and practice in a unique way. In the classroom, participants acquire a knowledge of management topics—from strategy to leadership to finance—and then they put that directly into building their social enterprises. They found a company that shouldn’t just operate sustainably and profitably. Rather, the primary focus is on the betterment of the local people’s lives and career prospects. And in doing so, the participant learns how a functional business model develops, how to do business with an entrepreneurial mindset, and how to lead people based on their own vision and values. In assuming this responsibility, they grow as people tenfold and commit, alongside other participants, to a goal that is bigger than themselves.

According to the official website, BOOKBRIDGE and the Capability Program have the goal of educating “purpose-driven leaders,” people who want to make a difference. Why is that so important to the company?

Working for the greater good is necessary for leading a full life. Having the experience of working on something that’s bigger than ourselves can have a monumental effect on us. A truly authentic leader can only make a difference if they wholeheartedly believe in what they are doing. I am convinced that this is the only way for leadership to have a lasting and positive effect. And that’s more important now than ever before, given the challenges our world is currently facing.

Have career expectations changed over the years?

When we started BOOKBRIDGE fourteen years ago, “purpose” wasn’t really a topic of discussion. Today, it’s everywhere. Questions like “who is doing what—and why?” have become essential. For example, people buy certain products (and entirely avoid others) because they want to make a difference. Or perhaps they consider their next employer’s goals when looking for a new job. They want to be able to identify with that company’s goals. And that’s something that is just as relevant for small or mid-sized enterprises as it is for larger corporations.

How does the Capability Program from BOOKBRIDGE help managers grow?

Managers enrolled in the Capability Program learn what it means to build and lead a company centered around a good cause. They have vision and are committed. They take what they’ve experienced in the program and put it back into their companies: They start to lead differently, reevaluate available resources, and act in a more entrepreneurial way.

Is the focus exclusively on personal experience? Or do employers also benefit?

To our participants, the program is always a personal transfer project. In looking closely at the needs of the locals, they start to think about their own values, the purpose of their work, and the purpose of the work their originating companies do. A personal leadership coach accompanies them on this journey. Once they’ve completed the program, they entirely change their working environment, a process for which we get superiors involved. So the program does not only have an impact through the social enterprises it bears; it effects the locals, the individual participants themselves, and the culture at their originating companies.

Can you give an example of an employer that has benefited from this training of its managers?

A Foundation of a leading reinsurance company has customized & adapted our capability program to support early-stage social entrepreneurs, leveraging skillsets, and expertise of its corporate talent at different locations around the world. This program has now been integrated with the organization's leadership development journey. We are proud that companies like our approach and are adopting it.

Sustainability matters have increased in importance for all companies, something that should not be underestimated. How can the joint programs offered by WHU and BOOKBRIDGE help find that balance between sustainable and profitable business?

The Capability Program is not a sandbox for quick practice projects. They should have a sustainable impact, be self-sustaining in the long run, and, if possible, be profitable. That our projects have had such a high success rate can be attributed to the management and leadership skills we teach as part of our program. In fact, 90% of the social enterprises founded through the program are still up and running today after ten years. Each participant improves the lives and career prospects of 790 people with the social founded founded. They influence an average of 93 other colleagues at their companies with the skills they acquired during the program. And the collaboration with the local teams ensures that those who are in charge and on-site also benefit. The participants learn to operate the enterprise cost-efficiently and for the long haul.

So, managers become active entrepreneurs during their time in the Capability Program. What do participants learn through this unique and practice-oriented experience of founding a new social enterprise?

In the program, managers work together in a high-performance team inside a considerably diverse and intellectual environment. They learn the responsibility that comes along with their actions. They make and stand by their decisions, even in moments of uncertainty. A wise man once said that “in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is.” Our participants learn to trust and to listen. They don’t merely reflect on where they stand and declare what they think; they get feedback from the other participants and develop their own understanding of what it means to be a leader. But given that they are working hand-in-hand with those on the ground—and therefore have to place aside their own personal ambitions for the greater good—the most crucial thing is those partaking in our program learn humility.

The General Management Plus Program has been around for quite some time now. Can we take a look at the “balance sheet,” as it were?

In ten years, around 1,000 managers from 115 organizations have taken part in our programs. That includes representatives from Hilti, Swisscom, and BSH Hausgeräte GmbH. Participants have developed a new way of looking at resources. They conduct business in a more entrepreneurial way. They lead differently. And in doing so, they’re directly contributing to a more future-ready corporate culture. Our track record of 118 social enterprises built in 15 different countries across the globe speaks for itself. The 90% of them still in operation today are financially self-sufficient and able to pay back their initial interest-free investment loans. And, of course, they’re improving the lives of thousands of people every single day.

That truly is quite impressive. What are your plans for the future? What are you all hoping for?

We want to inspire companies, encourage them to customize our programs and run them internally at their own locations. Instead of flying abroad and working effectively there, corporates could motivate their employees to implement effective social projects closer to home. We have already succeeded in doing this with one of our clients. An executive of a leading reinsurance company participated in the Capability program in 2017 and relaunched the program a year later in their country in APAC in partnership with their corporate foundation. Given the success, the Foundation now established the program at seven locations worldwide.

It’s surely an incredible experience watching all this success in the entrepreneurial scene. How important is it for BOOKBRIDGE to have renowned partners such as WHU officially accrediting the program?

Our cooperation with WHU, as well as the accreditation of our programs, is extremely important to us. WHU is a renowned business school, and it imparts to our participants the knowledge in finance, leadership, and strategy they need. These basics of management, based on the latest research, are taught in a practical way and then directly implemented at our companies. And our Capability Program also has an influence on WHU and the way leadership is taught there. That’s something we’re proud of!

Watch the program video here!