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New International Executive Education Program for Sports Business

Sports business needs experts capable of rising to the challenges posed by the modern era. With the world of sports becoming more digital, international, and in need of future-proof strategies, three of Europe’s top business schools—WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Düsseldorf, Germany; the Stockholm School of Economics in Sweden; and ESSEC Business School in Paris, France—have announced the European Sports Business Program (ESBP), a new business management executive education offering scheduled to debut on February 14, 2024, and to run until late-May. This program, the first of its kind, has been designed for professionals with a growth-oriented mindset and a strong interest in how the European sports industry functions at its very core.

The program comprises three distinct on-site, English-language modules, each taking place over the course of three days—and in three major cities across Europe. Under the supervision of Professor Sascha L. Schmidt (Director and Chairholder at WHU’s Center for Sports and Management), Professor Martin Carlsson-Wall (Director of the Center for Sports and Business at SSE), and Professor Karoline Strauss (ESSEC Sports Chair), participants will not only learn new skills. They will have a complete experience, gathering with like-minded future leaders and building a strong, international network of their peers. They will become proficient in state-of-the-art techniques for systematically analyzing and leveraging the future efficiently. And, finally, they will delve into the pivotal roles that leadership, purpose, and culture play in effectively managing change at sports organizations. “We aim to provide our participants with a forward-thinking perspective that prepares them to seize opportunities and manage risks in the changing sports industry,” said Professor Sascha L. Schmidt.

Further details on the European Sports Business Program can be found at the program’s website.


Changing the World One Social Enterprise at a Time

Dr. Carsten Rübsaamen knows one thing for sure: “A truly authentic leader can only make a difference if they wholeheartedly believe in what they are doing.” Together with his co-founders, this enthusiastic boy scout and graduate of WHU’s Doctoral Program started the social enterprise BOOKBRIDGE in 2009. The idea? To provide today’s leaders and talent an education in entrepreneurship that assumes a “learning by doing” approach. The goal? The creation of new social enterprises in areas of the world sorely needing them—and the sustainable improvement of the lives and career prospects of the people residing there.

BOOKBRIDGE and WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management jointly offer General Management Plus (GMP+), an executive education offering that combines the latter’s Management Essentials Program with the former’s Capability Program. In this interview, Dr. Rübsaamen gives insight into the program and the incredible impact it has on participants, their companies, and society as a whole.

Carsten, you co-founded your social enterprise BOOKBRIDGE in 2009. What is the company’s goal?

BOOKBRIDGE combines social entrepreneurship with managerial development. With our curriculum that focuses on experiential learning, managers start their own social enterprises in parts of the world that need them most—for example, a study center in Mongolia or a water start-up in Africa. They learn to assume an entrepreneurial mindset and management style and they get a masterclass in values-based leadership. And while doing so, they help improve the lives and career prospects of thousands of people.

We give managers an opportunity to take on new responsibilities and have a positive impact on the world—and to learn a ton and grow on a personal level. Anyone who participates in our program is not just honing crucial business and leadership skills. They’re joining an interdisciplinary and international team and becoming true social entrepreneurs.

For one of these management programs, you’ve opted to work with WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, where you yourself studied. And together, you have been offering the GMP+ Program to prospective leaders for years now. How does your collaboration differentiate itself from other management education programs?

The GMP+ Program combines theory and practice in a unique way. In the classroom, participants acquire a knowledge of management topics—from strategy to leadership to finance—and then they put that directly into building their social enterprises. They found a company that shouldn’t just operate sustainably and profitably. Rather, the primary focus is on the betterment of the local people’s lives and career prospects. And in doing so, the participant learns how a functional business model develops, how to do business with an entrepreneurial mindset, and how to lead people based on their own vision and values. In assuming this responsibility, they grow as people tenfold and commit, alongside other participants, to a goal that is bigger than themselves.

According to the official website, BOOKBRIDGE and the Capability Program have the goal of educating “purpose-driven leaders,” people who want to make a difference. Why is that so important to the company?

Working for the greater good is necessary for leading a full life. Having the experience of working on something that’s bigger than ourselves can have a monumental effect on us. A truly authentic leader can only make a difference if they wholeheartedly believe in what they are doing. I am convinced that this is the only way for leadership to have a lasting and positive effect. And that’s more important now than ever before, given the challenges our world is currently facing.

Have career expectations changed over the years?

When we started BOOKBRIDGE fourteen years ago, “purpose” wasn’t really a topic of discussion. Today, it’s everywhere. Questions like “who is doing what—and why?” have become essential. For example, people buy certain products (and entirely avoid others) because they want to make a difference. Or perhaps they consider their next employer’s goals when looking for a new job. They want to be able to identify with that company’s goals. And that’s something that is just as relevant for small or mid-sized enterprises as it is for larger corporations.

How does the Capability Program from BOOKBRIDGE help managers grow?

Managers enrolled in the Capability Program learn what it means to build and lead a company centered around a good cause. They have vision and are committed. They take what they’ve experienced in the program and put it back into their companies: They start to lead differently, reevaluate available resources, and act in a more entrepreneurial way.

Is the focus exclusively on personal experience? Or do employers also benefit?

To our participants, the program is always a personal transfer project. In looking closely at the needs of the locals, they start to think about their own values, the purpose of their work, and the purpose of the work their originating companies do. A personal leadership coach accompanies them on this journey. Once they’ve completed the program, they entirely change their working environment, a process for which we get superiors involved. So the program does not only have an impact through the social enterprises it bears; it effects the locals, the individual participants themselves, and the culture at their originating companies.

Can you give an example of an employer that has benefited from this training of its managers?

A Foundation of a leading reinsurance company has customized & adapted our capability program to support early-stage social entrepreneurs, leveraging skillsets, and expertise of its corporate talent at different locations around the world. This program has now been integrated with the organization's leadership development journey. We are proud that companies like our approach and are adopting it.

Sustainability matters have increased in importance for all companies, something that should not be underestimated. How can the joint programs offered by WHU and BOOKBRIDGE help find that balance between sustainable and profitable business?

The Capability Program is not a sandbox for quick practice projects. They should have a sustainable impact, be self-sustaining in the long run, and, if possible, be profitable. That our projects have had such a high success rate can be attributed to the management and leadership skills we teach as part of our program. In fact, 90% of the social enterprises founded through the program are still up and running today after ten years. Each participant improves the lives and career prospects of 790 people with the social founded founded. They influence an average of 93 other colleagues at their companies with the skills they acquired during the program. And the collaboration with the local teams ensures that those who are in charge and on-site also benefit. The participants learn to operate the enterprise cost-efficiently and for the long haul.

So, managers become active entrepreneurs during their time in the Capability Program. What do participants learn through this unique and practice-oriented experience of founding a new social enterprise?

In the program, managers work together in a high-performance team inside a considerably diverse and intellectual environment. They learn the responsibility that comes along with their actions. They make and stand by their decisions, even in moments of uncertainty. A wise man once said that “in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is.” Our participants learn to trust and to listen. They don’t merely reflect on where they stand and declare what they think; they get feedback from the other participants and develop their own understanding of what it means to be a leader. But given that they are working hand-in-hand with those on the ground—and therefore have to place aside their own personal ambitions for the greater good—the most crucial thing is those partaking in our program learn humility.

The General Management Plus Program has been around for quite some time now. Can we take a look at the “balance sheet,” as it were?

In ten years, around 1,000 managers from 115 organizations have taken part in our programs. That includes representatives from Hilti, Swisscom, and BSH Hausgeräte GmbH. Participants have developed a new way of looking at resources. They conduct business in a more entrepreneurial way. They lead differently. And in doing so, they’re directly contributing to a more future-ready corporate culture. Our track record of 118 social enterprises built in 15 different countries across the globe speaks for itself. The 90% of them still in operation today are financially self-sufficient and able to pay back their initial interest-free investment loans. And, of course, they’re improving the lives of thousands of people every single day.

That truly is quite impressive. What are your plans for the future? What are you all hoping for?

We want to inspire companies, encourage them to customize our programs and run them internally at their own locations. Instead of flying abroad and working effectively there, corporates could motivate their employees to implement effective social projects closer to home. We have already succeeded in doing this with one of our clients. An executive of a leading reinsurance company participated in the Capability program in 2017 and relaunched the program a year later in their country in APAC in partnership with their corporate foundation. Given the success, the Foundation now established the program at seven locations worldwide.

It’s surely an incredible experience watching all this success in the entrepreneurial scene. How important is it for BOOKBRIDGE to have renowned partners such as WHU officially accrediting the program?

Our cooperation with WHU, as well as the accreditation of our programs, is extremely important to us. WHU is a renowned business school, and it imparts to our participants the knowledge in finance, leadership, and strategy they need. These basics of management, based on the latest research, are taught in a practical way and then directly implemented at our companies. And our Capability Program also has an influence on WHU and the way leadership is taught there. That’s something we’re proud of!

Watch the program video here!


Cooperation Between WHU and IESE Business School

On November 22, 2021, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and IESE Business School jointly kicked-off the High-Performance Board Member Program at WHU Campus Düsseldorf. It was the first module of a seven-day program which is offered in cooperation by two of the most renowned business schools in Europe.

19 C-level executives from various industries such as Software, Media, Engineering, Non-Profit, Healthcare Services, Consulting, Manufacturing & Production, and Energy experienced a vivid program mix of interactive lectures and networking opportunities. Professor Markus Rudolf, Dean of WHU, was delighted to welcome the executives during the formal dinner on the first day. “It is great to see that two of the best business schools in Europe joined their forces to offer such a high-caliber program for senior executives. It was great to welcome them at our campus in Düsseldorf coming from Portugal, Spain, Poland, Russia, Turkey, and Germany. It makes me proud that we were able to welcome back some of our WHU alumni for the program,” said Professor Markus Rudolf.

During the first part of the program, which took three days, renowned faculty from IESE and WHU including Professor Marc Sachon (IESE), Professor Serden Özcan (WHU), Professor Govert Vroom (IESE), and Professor Martin Glaum (WHU) shared their knowledge on corporate boards, including insights on disruption, and financial reports. Furthermore, Dr. Christian Vocke (Baker & McKenzie) and Jürgen Steinemann (Supervisory Board, METRO AG), shared best practice insights during their guest lectures. Module two and three will take place at the respective IESE campuses in Munich and Barcelona in spring 2022.

The High-Performance Board Member Program is most suitable for executives currently serving on boards and next-generation leaders preparing to transition to a board role. It illustrates the main challenges and responsibilities of corporate boards while using examples taken from real-life scenarios. Additionally, the program offers an opportunity to discuss current challenges in strategic corporate management on an equal footing and in a protected space. It is meant to provide a highly practice-oriented approach and is the starting point of IESE’s and WHU’s fruitful cooperation.


A story of success

10 years of social entrepreneurship, 7 years of successful partnership with over 46,000 purpose-driven responsible leaders: BOOKBRIDGE and WHU enable participants to start their own social enterprise.

Hands-on, practice orientated knowledge is always important in management education, but crucial for starting one’s own company: The General Management Plus Program of WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management offers participants the opportunity to co-create social enterprises in emerging markets like Sri Lanka, Cambodia or Mongolia. Since 2013, WHU has been cooperating with the social enterprise BOOKBRIDGE giving its executive education to participants. "Over the years, we have developed more than 600 leaders in GMP+ each of whom has impacted 77 colleagues on average. This means that we have already turned over 46,000 people into purpose-driven responsible leaders worldwide," says BOOKBRIDGE co-founder and WHU alumnus Carsten Rübsaamen and smiles. "We are thus changing entire organizations towards more innovation and value-based leadership.”

Read the full article here.


Interview: 3 key capabilities of a good leader

Professor Dr. Jürgen Weigand is Academic Director WHU EMBA Program and the Center for Responsible Leadership at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. Having worked as a senior advisor for various international blue-chip companies, he is an expert in business strategy and conveys the necessary skills and knowledge to become a good leader. In this interview, he points out the most important qualities of a good leader, the influence of digitalization on leadership, and more.

What are the most important qualities of a good leader?

“Transitioning into a leadership role means having three key capabilities: The will, the skill and the integrity to lead. This may sound challenging, but there are both a lot of leadership knowledge and tools that you can learn to develop your authentic leadership style. Additionally, mastering leadership requires of self-reflection and feedback from others.”

Does Digitalization influence the role of General Manager?

“Yes, definitely. Let me mention two: First, disruptive innovation may change the ‘game’ in your industry, so General Managers will have to think more and more about how to sustain competitive advantage. Second, ways and speed of communication with all stakeholder change, which means that GM need to constantly reflect upon leadership and communication style.”

Can General Management be learned?

“In my over 20 years of experience in designing MBA and lifelong learning programs, I have observed that three broad areas of knowledge and skills are highly relevant: a) Business acumen – the ability to understand the financial side of your business, b) Strategy – the ability to formulate and execute strategic initiatives in your team or business unit and c) Leadership – the ability to motivate and guide teams. All this can be learned!”

Become an outstanding leadership personality

Do you want to develop and strengthen your leadership skills? The Leadership Essentials Program provides you with useful tools and concepts that will help you become a stand-out leader who inspires those around him.