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Digital transformation: WHU and Luther launch interdisciplinary Executive Education program for lawyers

Cologne – In order to provide clients with comprehensive legal advice in a digital world, pure legal thinking is no longer enough. With DEEP, the commercial law firm Luther is launching an Executive Education Program for lawyers that combines technology, business, and law.

DEEP stands for "Digital Education & Experience Programme." Luther will be offering this new training program for lawyers for the first time in July 2021. The law firm developed the concept and implementation of the content of the continuing education program in collaboration with WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, one of the most renowned German business schools with proven expertise in the field of executive education.

DEEP is intended to combine technology and business aspects with relevant legal issues surrounding digital transformation in a practice-oriented way. With this interdisciplinary continuing education program, Luther is responding to the challenges facing the legal industry in the wake of digital change.

The program will start with 25 participants. DEEP is expressly aimed at lawyers across all levels of seniority, from Associate to Partner. In addition to lawyers from Luther's own ranks, the program is also open to interested clients' in-house lawyers and to partners from the under network that Luther recently founded with the French law firm Fidal.

Asking the right questions and combining the relevant know-how

When accompanying digital projects, lawyers often have to shape tomorrow's world based on yesterday's laws. "DEEP provides lawyers with the basic technical and entrepreneurial knowledge needed to see the big picture, ask the right questions and bring together the necessary legal know-how," said Torsten Schneider, Director Human Resources at Luther and one of the initiators of the new format. Christian Kuß, lawyer and Partner from Luther's Information Tech & Telecommunications practice, who also played a significant part in developing DEEP, added: "Our consulting practice has shown that if you understand a technology in its context, you can classify it from a legal perspective. Only then will you know which additional colleagues with what know-how to involve in order to be able to provide the client with integrated advice."

The new format comprises three modules. In the "Tech for Law" module, renowned scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) will provide participants with the basic technical knowledge needed to understand digital services and value networks. In the "Business for Digital" module, experts from WHU will introduce the lawyers to the entrepreneurial side of digital business. Participants will come to understand how companies develop and implement business models and what start-ups do differently. In an exchange with experts from the Liquid Legal Institute, participants will additionally take a look at overarching future issues affecting legal advice and legal design. In the "Law for Tech" module, in-house experts from Luther will show what questions of law from the analog world need to be dealt with and how existing law needs to be adapted to take account of the new world. This applies to multiple fields of law, from antitrust to labor law and the protection and commercialization of data up to and including contract and liability law as well as general aspects of financial supervisory law, e.g. for fintech.

"This interdisciplinary training demonstrates that as business lawyers, we strive to provide our clients with guidance and with the greatest possible legal security for their investments in the future," said Dr. Markus Sengpiel, Co-Managing Partner at Luther, summarizing the approach.


Financial Times Open and Custom Directory 2021 reflects developments of WHU in the Executive Education sector

WHU- Otto Beisheim School of Management was listed in the recently published Financial Times Executive Education Open and Custom Directory 2021. Due to the hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Financial Times did not post classic official rankings of Executive Education programs of worldwide business schools this year.WHU was ranked #37 for the Open Programs in 2020. Instead, the data compilation of course directories on both open and customized online programs promotes the comparison and examination of several essential variables on any given business school, including location and revenue range.

Despite Covid-19, WHU has established a strong standing in the Executive Education market in Germany: In 2020, WHU conducted 33 Open Programs with 848 managers and executives participating in those online and on-site programs. Furthermore, 399 participants have been part of 34 Customized Programs (online and on-site).

According to Dr. Rebecca Winkelmann, Director Open Programs, “2020 was a difficult year for the Executive Education sector in terms of face-to-face events, but also led to many positive developments, e.g., faster digitalization and the introduction of a variety of online programs, such as the development of the new WHU flagship program ‘Leading beyond the crisis – An Online Advanced Management Program.’ In the current climate, demand for classic management topics among lower and middle management is very high.”

Online programs were well received by participants, particularly during the peak phase of the pandemic, especially considering that due to internal company travel restrictions, attendance would not have been possible. Short workshops in topics such as online negotiation were particularly appreciated and valued by participants.

Dr. Heike Brost-Steffens, Director Customized Programs, shares, “Many Companies often face a myriad of difficulties in the pandemic, balancing transparent communication, openness, and strategic communication to assuage employee concerns.” She believes that “leadership through and after the crisis is an important topic: companies are dependent on outside input at various levels due to the pandemic.”

During the crisis, teams suffered and continue to do so in terms of communication and motivation. Moreover, employees are personally affected by the crisis, which is often reflected in their quality of work. Therefore, executive development programs in leadership and coaching are even more critical today to rejuvenate teams, aid in the development of new ideas, and prepare for upcoming crises.


New online program “Leading beyond the crisis” launched successfully

In November 2020, a group of 42 selected senior professionals came together in a virtual format to reflect upon their individual leadership challenges in times of a pandemic. The group of senior professionals attended inspiring sessions on crisis leadership to prepare them for events that could happen during their future time as a leader. In addition, participants were encouraged to reflect upon their personal as well as organizational resilience to cope successfully with unforeseen and stress-provoking events and change.

“I am thrilled to see that we created an intimate learning environment so that our participants had the opportunity to discuss their personal leadership challenges”, says Dr. Rebecca Winkelmann, Managing Director WHU Executive Education, who initiated the “Leading beyond the crisis” program. High-profile guest speakers from different industries complemented the academic and self-reflection sessions. They shed light upon the challenges of their corporations during the pandemic, and gave insight into innovative solutions. Participants appreciated the possibilities to personally interact during the seminar and to learn from each other in a fully virtual environment. A few of them share their personal learnings and take-aways:

“The topic and curriculum of the seminar could not have been timelier. What impressed me most was the seniority of the participants and the speed at which a mutual sense of trust was formed which, even in a fully virtual classroom, quickly fostered highly valuable discussions and peer-group connections.“

Armin Häberle, Head of Business Media Division & Managing Director „Die Stiftung“ Media GmbH

“Leading beyond the crisis Program” defined leadership differently with exchanges of real-life experiences and nowhere-to-be-found group works. Leadership during a time of crisis will never be easy, but I feel I will be able to understand the meaning, reason, and purpose better and more importantly, convey this understanding to my team.”

Ali Inal, IT Director of Enerjisa Üretim

“The Leading beyond the crisis Program successfully directed our awareness and understanding of resilience. What does resilience mean for me, my team, and the organization? How to handle the first signs of misbalance? The well-experienced coach Karsten Drath helped us gain a deeper understanding, and the exchange with peers in the online break-out groups was extremely valuable.

Friday and Saturday were filled with insights from industry speakers and consecutive deep dives into resilience. We later summarized that it was especially good to see that we were not the only ones with concerns, challenges, and questions on what this challenging time of Covid-19 is doing to us and our work lives. A lot of food for thought!”

Jutta Kaiser, Head of Retail Development - Strategy & Governance @ Customer Support at BMW AG


Strategy and Leadership Skills for Foundations: Management Program for Executives in the Non-profit Sector

Fourteen participants, all working in the non-profit sector, spent five days at WHU Campus Düsseldorf where they learned new conceptual insights and discussed a wide range of topics and questions with their peers.

The agenda of the theory-based yet practice-oriented curriculum included the following topics: the effects of climate change on the foundation's work, changes in the structures of volunteer work in the civil society, and the digitalization of non-profit organizations. Furthermore, the topics of "Managing employees in VUCA environments" and the use of storytelling in management and everyday work were discussed. The speaker range included representatives of WHU, foundation managers, and other experts on focus topics.

At the end of the week, Dr. Gereon Schuch, Managing Director of the Deutsche Stiftungsakademie, concluded: "The positive feedback from the participants confirms our decision to host the program on-site in Düsseldorf. Similar to other certificate courses of DSA, the exchange in a protected environment is a significant added value for the participants, especially with regards to networking aspects.

Dr. Peter Kreutter, Director of the WHU Foundation and Faculty Director for the program added: "We are very pleased that the joint Executive Education program of DSA and WHU has taken place for the third time already and that we were able to execute it on-campus under these special circumstances. Furthermore, I would like to especially thank the Stiftung Mercator, which made it possible for representatives of small foundations and small organizations to participate in the program.”

The next program run of the "Management-Führungskräfteprogramm für Non-Profits" will take place on September 6-10, 2021 at WHU Campus Düsseldorf. You can find more information here.


Interview: Why brand management is crucial for a company’s long-term success

A strong brand is often the tip of the scales when it comes to the long-term success of a company: it provides certainty and value for consumers and companies. Prof. Dr. Tim Oliver Brexendorf, Apl. Professorship of Marketing and WHU Executive Education set up a new program “Brand Management Essentials” providing professionals and executives with the skills and tools to build and sustain powerful brands. In the following interview, Professor Brexendorf shares insights on the importance of brands, how to successfully build a brand and why brand management is crucial for a company’s long-term success:

Professor Brexendorf,

… why is brand management so important for companies?

Brands influence and guide consumers’ decision-making and allow firms to occupy a distinct place in the minds of their consumers. Consider the “Red Bull” brand – they epitomize energy in everything they do. Strong brands provide added value beyond a company’s products and services and help to make a connection with consumers on a very deep and personal level. For strong brands, consumers not only buy the brands, they buy into the brands. This helps companies stand out from the competition, enabling them to achieve higher prices and higher volumes.

…what is required to successfully build a brand?

Brand marketers require arts, crafts and science to successfully create, build, and maintain a strong brand. Insights from many disciplines – not only marketing – are needed to deliver a holistic and favorable brand experience to consumers. It depends on the subtle interplay of many areas including design, linguistics, psychology and strategy, to name just a few. Although persuasive brand names and logos are important for strong brands, branding goes way beyond that.

… why is brand management so crucial for a company’s long-term success?

The power of strong brands lies in their ability to create deep consumer connections along with a high degree of desirability and goodwill. Especially in times of uncertainty, brands can give consumers a feeling of familiarity and security. Brands’ loyal consumers accompany the brand through its ups and downs, making it possible for companies to facilitate and enable continuous growth – even in the most difficult times.