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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.


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!


WHU’s Executive Education #2 in Germany

Business schools around the world do not merely offer undergraduate and post-graduate study programs that lead to an academic degree. They also make available executive education courses, which prospective participants—those with experience working in a managerial position or aspiring to such a position—or companies can book individually and without full enrollment. For them, the Financial Times Executive Education Ranking is an important source of information when choosing the program that suits them best.

In the latest edition of the ranking, published today on May 22, 2023, the Executive Education programs of WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management have received excellent scores. The ranking consists of two sub-rankings: one for Open Executive Education Programs, booked by individuals; and one for Custom Executive Education Programs, which are tailored for and booked by companies. The overall list combines the results of both sub-rankings for schools offering both program types.

In this overall list, WHU has placed #31 worldwide and #2 in Germany. In the sub-ranking for the Open Executive Education Programs,WHU stands at #25 worldwide, meaning that the school has risen twelve spots from its #37 position in pre-COVID-19 times (2020). The WHU Customized Executive Education Programs have been able to keep their position at #57 worldwide. “Given the exceptionally difficult market situation for executive education programs both during and after the pandemic, I am very pleased with the positive evaluations from our program participants,” says Professor Christian Andres, Dean of WHU.

Looking at the results in closer detail, it is clear that WHU’s Open Programs have performed particularly well in several categories, including preparation (#14), i.e., the provision of advanced information on program content and participant selection process; course design (#15); follow-up after the course participants returned to their workplace, as well as their networking opportunities with their fellow participants (#16); and faculty, meaning the quality of teaching and the extent to which teaching staff worked together to present a coherent program (#16).

The WHU Customized Programs scored well in the quantity and quality of programs developed or taught in conjunction with other EQUIS- or AACSB-accredited business schools (#37), in the follow-up following the completion of a course (#40), and in the percentage of international clients (#43).

Please click here for a detailed look at the results of the Financial Times Executive Education Rankings for 2023.

Please click here for more information on WHU's Executive Education programs.


Interview with Rieka Wienke, Head of People & Culture at KRONGAARD

People make up organizations. Strategies, innovations, and competitive advantage are all created by people. Therefore, a corporation's growth and advancement depend greatly on the development of its people resources.

WHU’s Open Programs are a perfect starting point for your HR development activities. In this brief interview with Rieka Wienke, Head of People & Culture at KRONGAARD, you will learn about the ways HRD professionals receive support throughout the entire WHU Executive Education journey and what they gained from this enriching experience.

- Ms. Wienke, what goal did you have in mind regarding HR development when coming to WHU?

We want to expand the knowledge within the organization in the long term while continuing to build and expand our own successes through knowledge. As a premium service provider, it is, of course, also important for us to develop premium employees. We believe in the continuous and constant development of everyone and want to promote this from within. For us, knowledge is one of the most important assets for the company's success.

- Why did you choose WHU?

It is important to us that our employees receive a high-quality qualification opportunity. Thinking outside the box is particularly crucial here in order to facilitate lifelong learning. Above all, the networking aspect and the interaction between business and science is very special for us. Insights into existing scientific findings and exchanges with professors and the teaching staff stimulate important starting points, which build up knowledge in the long term.

- Beyond the content WHU offers, what makes it special as an executive education learning provider?

For us, the idea of networking was particularly important. The opportunity to exchange ideas with decision-makers from other companies is a big plus here. Furthermore, because the communication with the WHU staff during the consultation process as well as during the programs is at eye level, we feel understood and receive various formats with different target groups.

- How would you sum up the experience with WHU Executive Education?

As a company, we feel very well looked after here. Here you will find good communication and the possibility to expand our own knowledge. In addition, we get external stimuli that help us internally.

Returning to the daily work routine with new and fresh knowledge provides enormous added value for our managers and executives and increases the long-term motivation of each individual.

At WHU Executive Education, we are aware of the value of human resource development as well as the difficulties faced by managers in this field. As a result, we have created special offers – exclusively for HRD professionals and leaders. Visit our HRD Offerings Website for more information or contact us at and one of our program experts will schedule a call/meeting with you.


WHU opens Executive Education Learning Center at Campus Düsseldorf

On October 31, 2022, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management celebrated the opening of its new industrial building at the Schwanenhöfe complex in Düsseldorf with Dr. Stephan Keller, Mayor of the City of Düsseldorf, in attendance. The new Executive Education Learning Center and so-called “Bogenhalle” now offers managers and executives that are seeking shorter educational formats instead of a full study program at WHU an even more attractive learning atmosphere with 1,600 m2 tailored to their needs. Both Customized Programs, tailor-made for companies, and Open Programs for individual participants, will use the new Executive Education Learning Center to host their programs.

The building, made of steel, concrete, and glass, which was originally a factory floor for Henkel before being used by the fashion brand G-Star RAW, completes the grounds of the Schwanenhöfe on the northwest side. After a complete renovation, it now boasts two lecture halls, eight group workrooms, a meeting space on the upper floor, a catering and bistro area downstairs, and a glass courtyard for a little relaxation. Behind the spacious and open reception area, the wall of green moss creates a modern, feel-good ambiance and brings a bit of nature into the studio-like building. On the steel girder above the reception area stands a piece of art by Stefanie Welk: a human figure constructed of sheet metal strips reflecting courage and dynamism. Visitors will also catch sight of some colorful and powerful paintings on the upper floor. On loan from the artist Bernd Schwarzer, these pieces focus on Europe and the war playing out in Ukraine.

The WHU Foundation financed the acquisition and renovation of the building. In his speech, Dr. Toni Calabretti, Chairman of the Foundation, took the audience back to 2009, when the decision was first made to open a second location for the school and to do so in Düsseldorf. He showed his joy at how quickly the Bogenhalle, with construction work starting only in March of this year, was able to be converted.

“I’m thrilled that our Executive Education Program has found a new home in this radiant building and its inspiring atmosphere,” said Professor Markus Rudolf, Dean of WHU. “WHU has always committed to excellence and must expand its offerings in order to compete with other top business schools around the world. The addition of this modern academic space for continued managerial education will help us achieve our goal.”


Excellence in Management Education

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

Erkrather Str. 224a
40233 Düsseldorf