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Looking for the local hero

Executives open learning center in Cambodia

On May 2, 2014, ten managers entered a yellow-painted building in Cambodia, about 10,000 kilometers from here: Düsseldorf, Germany. They were surrounded by hundreds of children, who also wanted to see the building from the inside, which resembles a library: long rows of shelves filled with books sorted by topic and language. What connected them was their curiosity to discover the recently opened learning center in the rural town of Tonloab, Cambodia.

Education is valuable, but unfortunately not very common in the rural areas of Cambodia. Bringing education to one of these areas has for nine months been the ultimate goal of the General Management Plus Program participants, and became reality this May with the support of social enterprise BOOKBRIDGE, which builds learning centers in Mongolia and Cambodia. In the first three modules of the program, the participants gained knowledge on strategy, leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship. With this knowledge they created a business plan, generating a learning center that would be self-sustainable within one year (Business Impact Project). The fourth and final module was about implementing this concept in real-life on-site.

During the first module in September 2013, Carsten Rübsaamen, founder of BOOKBRIDGE, gave a short introduction to Cambodian culture. This was the starting point for establishing conference calls on a regular basis to discuss the status of the Business Impact Project. “First, we split up into working groups that would focus on different topics”, Rebecca Stallbaumer says, who participated in the program. “It was necessary to find out what the community needed. One team looked for the ´Local Hero´, who would be responsible for the learning center in the future. Another team was responsible for finding a suitable building and the third team focused on marketing and communication.” Making time in the evening for the conference calls after a long day of work in their full-time jobs required discipline and organization from each participant. During the preparation period, the group experienced the ‘investor pitch’ as one of the highlights of the project, presenting their business plan successfully to their investor ´UBS Foundation´. Another highlight was the message coming from Cambodia three weeks before the opening, that they had won Vannak Pen, who is a small businessman from the area, as Local Hero for the learning center.

“It was quite a team challenge for us when we were in Cambodia”, Stallbaumer admits. The participants had only met and got to know each other during the modules on the Campus in Düsseldorf; one week together in Cambodia with oppressive and hot weather, different hygienic conditions, and a strenuous agenda would be something completely different. “Though, we worked together well as a team, because we knew each other’s strengths. For example, we had a designer and a civil engineer in our team, who then took on the job of planning structural modifications for the inside of the building” Stallbaumer says.

The learning center is located in a school building in Tonloab in the province Takeo and gives access to books in English and Khmer, the official language of Cambodia, and to computers that were donated by the company of a program participant. The local ministry of education helped the participants with finding an adequate location. Moreover, it was not always easy to cope with the different cultural values – the team was set up very informally: every team member had much autonomy in their respective area of responsibility. But when dealing with local contacts, hierarchy, and protocol often played a large role. “This became clearly visible during the opening ceremony”, tells Stallbaumer with a smile. “About 300 guests listened to the speakers, who were allowed to talk in a certain order, and there was a strict seating plan.”

The implementation of the Business Impact Project in an emerging economy and the trip to Cambodia was an unforgettable learning experience for the program participants, who come from South Africa, Germany, Mexico, and Brazil – not only for their personal lives but also for their future leadership tasks within companies. To conclude the project in full, the project team still has two tasks to complete: to hire a librarian and to arrange fundraising for scholarships for children and adolescents of socially deprived families, so they can enter classes given at the learning center.


Insight into the Chinese Economy

In May, the program participants of the WHU CIO Leadership Excellence Program traveled to China in order to learn about the characteristics and challenges of the Chinese economy. The trip to China was the second module of the program which had started in fall 2013. The first module focused on “How to face leadership challenges as a Chief Information Officer”.

Throughout the trip through China, the 20 IT-Executives gained a deep insight into the Chinese economy and culture. The four-day Executive Education program in Shanghai and Peking combined academic parts with company visits. In various talks at FUDAN Business School, the participants learned about the economic conditions and current developments in the Chinese political system. During company visits at SAP, HP, and Daimler the executives were given the opportunity to exchange experiences with Chinese CIOs and participated in lectures on differences in company culture. Finally, a visit to the European Union Delegation and the European Chamber Delegation concluded the program in a perfect manner.


Negotiation skills for managers

Negotiation skills are essential in many corporate situations, as well as in personal life. WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management now offers an Executive Education program providing executives with the key tools and techniques for effective negotiations. This practice-proven program for managers, with a focus on multiparty and intercultural negotiations, starts in Düsseldorf in June 2014.

Executives often experience that negotiation strategies are significantly influenced by the personality traits and cultural backgrounds of the people involved. WHU has developed an Executive Education program preparing managers for the difficulties which may occur while negotiating. The program is beneficial to executives who would like to enhance their negotiation skills and expertise as well as to those who are not highly experienced in negotiations yet.

“The winning formula for negotiations is: patience, persistence plus practice,” says Professor Lutz Kaufmann, Faculty Director of the program. Participants will on the one hand learn about key tools and strategies for negotiations, and on the other hand, they will be confronted with heterogeneous negotiation situations. By making use of, for example, role-plays, participants will experience different scenarios and practice and improve their communication and influencing skills. By combining theory and practice, participants will gain more confidence in navigating complex negotiations and will learn to achieve better results in negotiations.

As cross-cultural misunderstandings are often deal-breakers during negotiations, the WHU Negotiation Program emphasizes intercultural negotiations: “If you really want to understand the motives which drive the other party, you need to understand why they behave in certain ways”, explains Kaufmann. Knowing the principles of cultural analysis and the culture-specific values and communication habits, common mistakes based on biases can be avoided.

The 5-day program will also go deeper into advanced negotiations, whereby complex multi-issue negotiations play an important role – a skill which – once mastered – will contribute significantly to successful leadership.


WHU Executive Education Programs Fall 2013 – “Thinking in New Directions”

With its motto “Thinking in New Directions” WHU Executive Education enables program participants and companies to reach a goal in different ways. This motto also holds true for the programs that were offered by Executive Education in fall 2013.

In September the first open Executive Education program commenced at WHU Campus Düsseldorf. Twelve participants from countries like South Africa, Germany, Mexico, and Brazil were introduced to the topics Strategy and Accelerated Skill Development during the first of four modules (21 days). In this module that took five days, the participants also started with the inter-modular ‘Business Impact Project’: together with the social enterprise BOOKBRIDGE, the participants will develop a business plan for a learning center in Cambodia, which will be implemented on-site in the fourth module. The second edition of this program will commence in May 2014.

Furthermore, this year´s CIO Leadership Excellence Program took place on the Düsseldorf Campus. On October, 28 high-level IT executives from various companies took part in the program that aims to enhance the executives´ General Management and Leadership skills. The program consists out of a base module with a key topic General Management (being taught on WHU Campus Düsseldorf), as well as two modules abroad in which the participants can enroll: one in India (Mumbai and Bangalore) and one in China.

At the end of October, WHU Executive Education welcomed 33 Senior Executive MBA students from the Melbourne Business School on campus Vallendar. The executives are participating in a post-experience program, which includes a module in Europe. During the 8-day program, the participants gained insight into the European markets in various lectures and teamwork sessions. In addition, the Melbourne EMBA students visited the European Central Bank in Frankfurt and Lohmann Therapie-Systeme in Andernach.


WHU prepares executives for Doing Business With India

In a new WHU Executive Education program, executives learn how to do business with and in India. In the innovative program, executives learn to be successful by understanding Indian culture, politics, industry, and business structures on-location. In spring 2014, the program participants will spend seven days in India.

India is a highly fascinating and contradicting country with highs and lows in growth, infrastructure, education, and training of its labor force. The fast-paced Indian market offers both opportunities as well as challenges: to be able to enter this market one needs to be aware of the cultural differences. The 7-day “Doing Business With India Program” takes participants by the hand and gives them a profound insight into India. While visiting companies, they gain deep insights into the leadership culture and get to know the Indian consumer. Furthermore, during lectures, talks, and case study discussions they learn about the characteristics of the Indian law system and how to create a successful business model. “This program is a really unique learning experience”, says Rebecca Winkelmann, Managing Director of WHU’s Executive Education. “We have blended many different elements and formats in order to make participants both learn and feel the Indian environment.”

Wolfgang Messner, Faculty Director of the program and Associate Professor of International Management at MYRA School of Business in India adds: “In this program, we will show you how to make business in India happen – and how innovation generated in India and for India can unlock other opportunities worldwide.”

This practice-oriented WHU Executive Education Program is suited for executives who are either facing challenges that come with doing business with India or for executives who are planning to expand their activities in India. The participants´ industry background and level of seniority may be diverse. “Whether you are a CEO, strategist, marketer, supply chain manager, engineer, or policymaker – business in emerging markets is a phenomenon you need to understand” explains Messner.

Doing Business With India Program at a Glance

  • Topics: Indian culture, politics, industry and leadership culture
  • Date: March 30, 2014 – April 5, 2014 (7days)
  • Venue: India (including Bangalore, Mysore)
  • Fees: € 8,950 excluding airfare to and from Bangalore
  • Participants will receive a WHU certificate of attendance after successfully completing the program

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Excellence in Management Education

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

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