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Insider's View: Ivan Kitta on WHU’s Advanced Management for Senior Leaders Program

Ivan Kitta is Head of Marketing at GoodMills Deutschland: Aurora Mühlen and Müller’s Mühle, as well as Kellogg-WHU EMBA alumnus (EMBA 2020). In fall 2022, he participated in WHU Executive Education’s Advanced Management for Senior Leaders Program (previously named Advanced Management for Senior Professionals Program) in fall 2022. This article unfolds Ivan's reflections, offering a glimpse into the invaluable experiences gained during this empowering program.

"I met a group of highly motivated senior professionals from very different backgrounds: entrepreneurs as well as executives from investment banking, financial services, automotive, and consumer goods sectors. The spirit to excel in business leadership was amazing and lasted throughout all the modules and sessions of the program. I felt privileged to work with my high-caliber peers.

The mix of classic lectures with professors and interactive group work with peers was just perfect and allowed in-depth learning and networking. Professor Jürgen Weigand led us through the main building blocks of a business strategy, providing a step-by-step guide to develop your own business strategy. It was very hands-on and practical. The session, Managing the Unexpected, by Assistant Professor Lukas Löhlein was a great opportunity to discuss sources of strategic risks and strategic choices to manage uncertainty in business. Furthermore, Professor Dries Faems gave a deep dive into disruptive innovation: Starting with Serious Lego Play, we ended up setting up a test for a rapidly developed disruptive minimum viable product for working from home.

The sessions with James Healy (Olivier Mythodrama™) and Karsten Drath (Leadership Choices) gave a different view on leadership and individual resilience. James Healy’s Olivier Mythodrama™ was a top-class exercise in leadership psychology and behavior using core leadership archetypes when facing and managing unprecedented challenges. Executive coach Karsten Drath helped deepen one’s self-awareness as the inner source of resilience. I had the opportunity to practice various techniques and tools as well as peer coaching. In the end, Karsten helped me as well as every other program participant develop one’s individual leadership commitment.

Online sessions with Matthias Hartmann, CEO of Techem Energy Services GmbH and WHU Senior Fellow, and Tobias Rölz, Executive VP at Komax and Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA graduate, provided best practice examples of business leadership in the current #vuca world.

My main gain is the confidence to instantly use the tools and techniques whenever and wherever needed for dealing with my peers and clients. Since I could practice them in the course, I know what and how effectively works for me. I learned the habit of regularly nourishing self-reflection and thereby improving my self-awareness when coping with challenging situations, both expected and unexpected."

About the program

Designed to challenge your view on transformation, executive decision-making, and networked leadership, the Advanced Management for Senior Leaders Program will spark conversations with your peers and faculty. This empowering program consists of two in-class modules, comprised of 3 days each, and additional short online sessions in between modules.

As a takeaway, you will enhance your strategic impact and be ready to compete in market environments with disruptive innovators.


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