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Renowned speakers talk at the Campus for Corporate Transformation conference

The WHU Executive Education Department at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management hosted the first Campus for Corporate Transformation on September 26 at the campus in Düsseldorf. At the event, high-ranking speakers in positions of leadership shared their experiences on the topic of “Digital Transformation: Perspectives from the Top” with around 100 attendees.

Participants during Q&A

“We are delighted to welcome prominent leaders from the German business community to this new conference format at WHU. The Campus for Corporate Transformation offers practical insights into implementing digital strategies at the top management level across a very wide variety of industries,” said Professor Dr. Serden Ozcan, Academic Director of the Executive Education Department and Chairholder for Innovation and Corporate Transformation at WHU, in welcoming participants.

Maximilian Viessmann

From the CEO’s point of view, understanding digital transformation lies in segmentation of management and demarcation of traditional strategies. In his remarks, Friedrich Joussen, CEO of the TUI Group, explained that TUI has turned its focus to economies of scale as part of the digital transformation and is tailoring its core competency to mass individualization. To achieve this, he pointed out, it is essential to work with cloud systems, outsource data to decentralized databases and analyze these data on an individualized basis. Speaking for the energy industry, Maximilian Viessmann, Group CEO at Viessmann, added that digitalization also affects a company’s cultural environment and must be applied not just at a technical level but also at a personal level as well.

Christopher Delbrück

Lothar Harings, Chief Human Resources Officer at Kühne + Nagel, followed up on the previous speaker’s remarks and clarified the need to promote digital talent and create a suitable tech culture. From the HR manager’s point of view, transformation means change that begins with management itself and is not dictated from above. Mike Zöller, consultant and partner at Andersch AG, highlighted the positive effects of the digital transformation, such as the creation of new jobs and the use of new, pioneering technologies and infrastructures.

From a financial perspective, the digital transformation calls for increasing levels of standardization in all divisions and investment in digitalization strategies that contribute value. Two CFOs, Dr. Yorck Schmidt and Christopher Delbrück, confirmed that new skills are being integrated into finance departments, with traditional work processes converting over to automated and app-based services.

Podium discussion

The speakers’ remarks were followed by a stimulating podium discussion moderated by Dr. Peter Kreutter, Director of the WHU Foundation. “This year, the WHU Campus for Corporate Transformation celebrated its premiere in this format, and we are very proud of the outstanding response of the conference.” With these words, Professor Dr. Stefan Spinler, Director of the Kühne Institute for Logistics Management at WHU, summarized this year’s conference. The one-day event was organized by WHU professors Serden Ozcan and Stefan Spinler and carried out by WHU Executive Education in cooperation with Handelsblatt.

The next Campus for Corporate Transformation will take place on September 25, 2018 in Düsseldorf.


New: Management for non-profit executives

A five-day Executive Education Program will take place in September 2018

In cooperation with Deutsche StiftungsAkademie gGmbH (DSA), WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management is offering a special Management Program for Non-Profit Executives [„Management Programm für Non-Profit Führungskräfte“] for the first time in fall 2018. The aim of the five-day Executive Education Program is to systematically expand participants’ strategic toolkit, offer them fresh ideas and open up networks to qualify them for a possible next step in their development in the non-profit setting.

The non-profit sector is undergoing far-reaching change – triggered not only by digitalization and internationalization but also by social innovation and an increase in underlying entrepreneurial attitude. Dr. Andrea Rudolph, Managing Director of DSA, sees a need for action here: “At DSA, we want to systematically address managers’ related training needs. The expertise and the network in these thematic areas make WHU an ideal strategic partner for us.”

The Executive Education Program specifically addresses the organizational, financial and legal framework conditions of non-profit organizations. The team of lecturers has been specifically recruited from academia, from among experienced coaches for the third sector, and from among selected practitioners in the foundation sector. From among the academic lecturers, among others, Professor Dr. Christian Schlereth, Chairholder in Digital Marketing at WHU, and Professor Dr. Georg Stadtmann, Chair of Economics, in particular Economic Theory (Macroeconomics), European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), provide learning sessions to participants in questions of digitalization and behavioral finance. Two experienced coaches are on board for issues in leadership and agile methods: Nicole Dufft, fibonacci & friends; and Tobias Leipprand of Mercator LEAD. Uta-Micaela Dürig, Chief Executive Officer of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, and Dr. Carsten Rübsaamen, CEO & Co-Founder BOOKBRIDGE, round out the training portfolio with case studies on the strategic transformation of foundations and social entrepreneurship.

The Management Program for Non-Profit Executives will be held from September 17 to 21, 2018, at the WHU Campus in Düsseldorf. The target groups for the program are executives and top talents from the foundation and non-profit sector with at least five years of leadership experience.

More information about the program.


A key to economic success

How to establish a sustainable and strategically solid Corporate Transformation.

It is neither new nor surprising that companies are continuously forced to adapt their business model to the economic and social environment. However, these strategic reorientation drivers have never been as dominant and inevitable as today. In the following interview, Rakesh Thadani, Director Strategic Engagements & Advisor Relations DACH of Wipro, and Serden Ozcan, Professor and Chair of Innovation and Corporate Transformation at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, point out the challenges during the process of Corporate Transformation. Furthermore, they illustrate the most important skills of renowned successful executives.

Rakesh Tadani, Prof. Dr. Serden Ozcan

Are there any companies that mastered the Corporate Transformation extraordinarily well? What are the best practices on an international level?

Rakesh Thadani (RT): Sure, Microsoft is definitely a good example: Since Satya Nadella became CEO in 2014, the company has made a startling transformation. Microsoft grew tremendously after creating an own cloud system with a device-independent and standardized user interface. Further, they restructured multiple departments and teams internally. Their new strategy is obvious: customer service. Microsoft puts the customer´s needs first, even if that leads to compromises with their eternal competitor Apple.

What are the most important skills of senior executives during a Corporate Transformation?

Serden Ozcan (SO): Executives should stay up to date, learn quickly and think outside the box. Additionally, they should not succumb themselves to organizational inertia. Therefore, it is extremely important to show enthusiasm, passion and commitment for the goals of a corporate transformation.

Moreover, a successful corporate transformation must start at the top. The top-level management needs to demonstrate the transformation to their teams in a comprehensive and visible way. At the same time, inspirational leaders have to perform a delicate balancing act: On the one hand, they need to fully engage and assume personal responsibility; on the other hand, they need to delegate wisely to ensure that the employees focus on the company´s goals.

What are the most important drivers of Corporate Transformation?

RT: One of the biggest driver is customers´ demands, which keep growing. The demands of current and future employees is just as important. The “resource” of skilled professionals becomes scarcer which changes the balance of power between employer and employee. Senior executives must adjust their company´s strategy to stay competitive.

What are the biggest challenges for companies during a Corporate Transformation?

RT: Unfortunately, there are still a lot of executives who cling to the status quo and distrust innovations. This is often caused by insecurity or fear, or sometimes due to convenience. Therefore, change processes slow down, or in worst cases – never take place. In my opinion, this unwillingness to change is caused by people who define themselves by their status within the company and not by their personal skills.

Senior executives, specifically, need to improve their professional skills permanently for the economic success of their company. This includes collaborating with other people within the company and with other companies, too. Collaboration and transparency will become even more important in the future.

SO: Let me focus on two important observations: A key challenge for companies is to mobilize the entire organization towards one long-term goal: Corporate Transformation. Corporate Transformation may end up in a complete reorganization of the entire company. This can cause uncertainty and fear of change at the beginning of such a process. Even if, initially, corporate leaders succeed in getting people on board, the process could quickly stop after the first changes have been implemented and eventually lose momentum. This is why continuous motivation is of utter importance and falls in the duties of corporate leaders. They need to be proactive and keep their employers united behind one process.

Moreover, corporate transformation can stop completely, if quick wins are the focus. The reason behind this are poorly thought through strategies or so called ‘cosmetic changes’ that are only focused on inconsistent projects. In order to avoid those obstacles, corporate leaders focus on pursuing the transformation agenda. Companies should formulate an overall strategy, which coordinates sub-projects to create synergies systematically.

“Life long learning” – in particular, this holds true in the areas of leadership behavior and corporate change. To meet the challenges of the market, executives should always reflect their corporate strategy and leadership skills. Modern and inspiring leadership strategies make it possible to make a company fit for the future by expanding existing competitive advantages and tapping new potential.

WHU’s Advanced Management for Senior Professionals Program provides a 6-day intensive format for experienced senior management executives, providing new insights into strategy, leadership and global economic development. Participants will have the chance to exchange views with the help of group reflections and peer-to-peer coaching and thus generate direct input for their own company.

More Information


WHU Executive Education in FT Ranking for the first time

The Executive Education program at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management has been listed in the “Financial Times Executive Education Open Programs” ranking for the first time. The program at WHU was ranked 29th in Europe and came in 1st place worldwide in terms of business growth.

“We are very pleased that the high quality of our executive education offer is reflected in the Financial Times ranking,” Professor Dr. Markus Rudolf, Dean of WHU, remarked. “This confirms our aspiration of offering outstanding further education and training for executives at an international level.”

WHU bundles its further training offerings in the field of Executive Education. The portfolio comprises customized programs for individual companies, open-enrollment programs for individual participants or small groups of companies, and the Certified-in programs, an MBA-level opportunity for further education and training. In its “Open Programs,” WHU’s current offerings include seminars on digitalization, entrepreneurship, finance, leadership and negotiation strategies.

The FT Executive Education Ranking lists the 80 best international programs for further education and training in its “Open Programs” category; the program at WHU ranked 60th. They are ranked, among other criteria, based on the quality of instruction, the organization of courses and the diversity of participants. The evaluation is based on disclosures by universities and on surveys of program graduates.


New: Campus for corporate transformation

One-day conference for managers and executives to develop new perspectives and approaches around the topic of Corporate Transformation

Not only is the pace of business life constantly increasing and becoming more hectic, but companies, too, are perpetually exposed to the impacts of digitalization and globalization. Those who fail to move with the times or align their business model with these developments will quickly fall by the wayside. Despite some risks, new business models and technologies unlock vast potential for companies – and this can affect not only entire departments and business segments, but also impact the company and its market environment as a whole.

The new Campus for Corporate Transformation conference format from the WHU Executive Education department is dedicated to this multi-faceted topic. A one-day event enables managers and executives to develop new perspectives and approaches around the topic of Corporate Transformation. A company’s long-term economic success is under the spotlight at all times. Well-known executives from the German business world provide exclusive insights into the development of their business segments and encourage a dynamic exchange of views that generates practically focused inspiration and stimulus.

Through targeted ideas and up-to-date content, conference participants can consolidate their expertise in the field of Corporate Transformation, expand their personal network, and develop concrete solutions for their business environment.

Digital Transformation – Perspectives from the Top

Digitalization is one of the most complex yet most dynamic influences on today’s economy and society. Alongside rapid changes such as those we are witnessing in information technology or logistics, we see the impact of this megatrend across a whole range of segments and levels of business. This event illuminates the effects of digitalization and other issues from the perspective of a CEO, CFO, COO/CDO, and CHRO. You will learn how leading companies confidently navigate the broad field of digitalization and how you can develop practically focused solutions for you or your company.

The conference language is English and the event will take place on September 26, 2018 at the WHU Campus Düsseldorf.

More information about the conference