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Digital Transformation in the Corporate Finance Function: WHU offers new Executive Education Program

Düsseldorf, September 16, 2019. WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), is offering a new program in its Executive Education portfolio from October 28 to November 19, 2019.

The intensive four-day program consists of two in-class modules designed for finance executives wanting a more in-depth understanding of the corporate finance function of the future. Professors, renowned experts from the field and CFOs will provide inspiration and advice to participating executives along with practical, applied case studies and plenty of opportunity for a lively exchange of ideas with colleagues on their way to digital transformation.

Gori von Hirschhausen, PwC Europe Finance Consulting Leader, says: "Digitalization is everywhere now. To take advantage of the opportunities as well as master the associated challenges, it’s essential to have a holistic view of every dimension of the finance function’s operating model. This is where our program takes you – starting with the conception and design of future-oriented financial functions to concrete advice for realizable operational implementation".

"The corporate finance function is being changed fundamentally by digitalization. Our program supports participants in developing the necessary knowledge and skills to create their own "Digital Roadmap" which also addresses the requisite paradigm shift in corporate culture that goes along with it” adds Professor Dr. Martin Glaum, Chair of International Accounting at WHU.

Due to the highly practical nature of the program and the opportunity to apply relevant concepts to a company-specific digital roadmap, the program provides real added value for both participants and their companies.

More information and registration at: ee.whu.edu/digital-cfo


Negotiations Program: Interview with Prof. Dr. Lutz Kaufmann

Prof. Dr. Lutz Kaufmann is a professor in the Supply Chain Group at WHU since 2001. He is teaching in the Negotiations Program which was designed to equip participants with the skills necessary to manage negotiations successfully, even in the most challenging situations. In a short three-minute FAQ he gave us answers to some relevant questions regarding the topic of negotiations and the offered program.

What are the most common reasons for failure in negotiations?

  1. Taking the setup as a given. Why not change stakeholders, topics, or the sequence of the talks?
  2. Thinking in compromises. Why not using intelligent deal designs where the parties can keep their different views?
  3. Trying to trick the other side. Why using tactics from largely irrelevant contexts, like buying a car, a house or freeing a hostage?

What are negotiation techniques and why are they relevant for businesses?

These are strategies for jointly solving a problem without being sentimental about the business relationship. Negotiation skills are relevant simply because conflict is a growth industry.

How will this seminar benefit me?

Participants will move beyond win-win or win-lose categories. They will be able to (re-)shape negotiation setups, achieve agreements while the parties still disagree, detect tactical and psychological tracks, and deal with complicated personalities and power constellations.

How is the program constituted?

Negotiating and swimming or tennis have one thing in common: you only learn it properly by practicing it. Therefore, this program is designed as one big ‘experiential learning’ event.

Become a successful negotiator yourself and register now for the Negotiations Program at WHU.


WHU and CIMA launch Executive Development Program for Top Managers

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) have launched the CIMA CFO Program as part of their cooperation agreement. Developed for top executives, this program provides finance and accounting content and enables them to acquire an internationally recognized professional qualification.

“Due to their immense level of responsibility, countless activities and obligations, Senior Finance Managers have little time to devote to their own continuing professional development. The CIMA CFO Program is designed as a “fast-track” course focusing on strategic and risk management as well as financial strategy for C-level executives and senior management,” says Jakub Bejnarowicz, Associate Director Europe, CIMA.

The CIMA CFO Program has already been successfully implemented in other countries such as the UK, Poland, China and Africa. “We are pleased to be taking this step together with WHU in Germany,” adds Jakub Bejnarowicz.

“The CIMA CFO Program is an exciting addition to our portfolio of Open Enrollment Programs,” says Dr. Rebecca Winkelmann, Managing Director, WHU Executive Education. The program is targeted at CFOs, CEOs and finance executives, candidates holding a finance degree, or an MBA/Master in Controlling or Accounting. At least ten years’ professional experience in finance or business is required to apply. The course is delivered in English.

“The launch of the CIMA CFO Program is another step in our intensive cooperation with CIMA,” emphasizes Professor Dr. Utz Schäffer, Director of the Institute for Management Accounting and Control (IMC) at WHU. By joining forces we want to promote and strengthen the competencies of financial controllers and finance professionals in Germany”. Further joint programs are planned.


Lying Is a No-Go. Bluffing Is Allowed, Right?

A study by WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and Arizona State University provides answers to the question of the real difference between a bluff and a lie in business negotiations. The distinction is an important one, as the psychological consequences are fundamentally different – for those affected by a bluff or a lie, and for the actors them-selves.

Be it VW, campaign promises or deliberate dives to trigger penalty kicks: We are surrounded by deceptions. Business negotiations in particular are often said to resort to bluffs and lies to improve a particular party’s negotiating position – with the end justifying (almost) all the means. To date, research has considered bluffing a form of lying or regarded bluffs as the “more harmless variant” of a lie. The results of eight staggered studies by an international research team at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and Arizona State University contradict this assessment and identify fundamental differences.

“The difference between a bluff and a lie can be found in the eyes of the beholder: as victims, we are annoyed with ourselves if the other side successfully bluffs, but no one wants to negotiate with a liar, if at all possible, ever again. Lying is immoral, but bluffing is viewed as amoral, both by participants and by those affected, i.e. as a negotiating tactic that does not constitute ethical misconduct,” notes the WHU negotiation expert Professor Dr. Lutz Kaufmann.

Surprisingly, both negotiation experts and laypeople would take the same view, as Christian Schlereth, Professor of Digital Marketing, explains: “A lie is fundamentally about falsifying information or making false promises. Bluffs, on the other hand, are about feigned emotions, such as sympathy, misrepresenting one’s own bargaining position, or making empty threats, such as breaking off negotiations.”

As the researchers also show, lying, for instance, can be reduced by means of a code of conduct, but this will have no impact on bluffing. “Instruments like these increase stakeholders’ moral awareness. This works against lies, but not against bluffing, because with bluffing, moral considerations play no role from the outset. Bluffing is considered a moral-free negotiating tactic that even has to be learned,” as WHU researcher Dr. Jörg Rottenburger summed up.

Prof. Dr. Lutz Kaufmann is a professor in the Supply Chain Group at WHU and instructor of the Negotiations Program. Get more information about the WHU Negotiations Program and enhance your negotiation skills!

Lutz Kaufmann, Jörg R. Rottenburger, Craig R. Carter, Christian Schlereth (2018), “Bluffs, Lies, and Consequences: A Reconceptualization of Bluffing in Buyer-Supplier Negotiations,” Journal of Supply Chain Management, Vol. 54., in press

Jörg R. Rottenburger, Craig R. Carter, Lutz Kaufmann (2018), “It’s Alright, it’s just a Bluff: Why do Corporate Codes reduce Lying, but not Bluffing?” Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management, Vol. 24., in press


Kick-off General Management Plus Program - True impact and personal development in 8 months

A field report by Marianne Ohm, Managing Partner of codiviti UG and participant in the 6th General Management Plus Program.

May 20, 2019: Coming from Germany, USA, Japan and Sri Lanka, our group came together in Düsseldorf to join the first module of WHU’s General Management Plus Program. This eight-month-long program aims at developing new concepts for a learning center in Bandarawela, Sri Lanka, in order to improve future prospects for young people located in this area. During the program, we will be supported by a partner-team in Sri Lanka as well as by staff members at WHU and BOOKBRIDGE. During the first three days in module 1, we worked on the development and implementation of strategies. The long-awaited kick-off of our Business Impact Project took place during the last two days. Starting now, we have eight months to define, advance, and implement our project.

How to implement strategies successfully

During the first two days, Prof. Peter Witt humorously – and sometimes provokingly – introduced the overall topic business strategy. Using many practical examples, we learned what constitutes a good strategy formulation and, as a team, developed our own strategies. We also got to learn strategic instruments for innovation and marketing. We especially focused on the challenges in implementing strategies that arise due to emotional factors: Only a small part of our decisions are made rationally. On the last day of the Strategy Essentials Program, Prof. Miriam Müthel demonstrated how to drive the implementation of strategies forward. Additionally, we discussed the topic of change management, focusing on motivating people and inspiring them to follow their own goals (“The people side of strategy”): Why and how do we change communication, leadership and corporate culture to implement our strategy?

Beyond learning – connecting with other high potentials

Our team included company executives as well as self-employed entrepreneurs. During coffee breaks, lunch and a get-together on the first evening, we had plenty of networking opportunities to gain exciting insights into each other's daily work. In the course of three days, we got to already know one part of our team for the Business Impact project.

Dr. Carsten Rübsaamen, founder and CEO of BOOKBRIDGE

Business Impact Project – ready, set, go!

During the last two days of module 1, we finally learned more about our project, and got to know our team (especially the participants located in Sri Lanka), a potential investor and our coaches. Dr. Carsten Rübsaamen, founder and CEO of BOOKBRIDGE, passionately introduced us to his Social Enterprise as well as to non-profit companies in general, using some success stories as examples. Having started with a large delivery of books to Mongolia and the following construction of a local learning-area, there are now 28 learning centers in Mongolia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and South Africa.

Inspiration for our project

At the end of January 2020 we will travel to Sri Lanka to implement our project. To prepare for this, Sujitha Miranda, Country Manager of the Learning Centers in Sri Lanka, came to Düsseldorf. She informed us about the political and economic situation in Sri Lanka, "our" learning center in Bandarawela, the Dos and Don'ts of her country and its beautiful countryside. Sujitha's story was very inspiring and motivating. During the first evening in Düsseldorf, she told us about her road to BOOKBRIDGE and how she became a Country Manager in Sri Lanka.

Participants working in a team

Working in a diverse and virtually connected team

The program kept preparing us for the joint project, but we still didn’t have enough information about what the actual project would be. After a few more days of suspense we finally got to learn our entrepreneurial challenge for the next months: We would work on further developing and refining a learning center in Bandarawela which would give young people in the region better prospects for their future.

During these first days, we grew together as a team, supported by a team-building unit, which helped us to establish some basic rules for our work as a team. It became clear to us that there are several challenges awaiting our team: During the program, most of our communication takes place virtually, we live in different time zones and we have different cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, our project team consists not only of the participants of the GMP+ program, but of the employees of the learning center in Bandarawela as well. Therefore, a common vision and honest communication are central aspects for our work as a team.

To establish a smooth teamwork, we also got an introduction into our collaboration tools (such as “Teamwork” and “Zoom”), a first conversation with our potential investor and reflections on our project’s vision.

We will meet again one week after the first module in a video conference. For now, we said goodbye in order to return to our home countries, with many unanswered questions but also a lot of motivation , we said goodbye.

I am happy to take up this unique challenge to make a difference in Sri Lanka!

Marianne Ohm is 27 years old and has been into various fields of voluntary work for almost 10 years. She is CEO of codiviti UG and regularly gives lectures on topics such as future skills and programming. Her hobbies are meetups, reading, crafting and strength training.