TOP Alumnae

Many successful women are WHU graduates. Alumnae of our Business School can be found in a very wide variety of sectors, from investment banking to consulting, from medium-sized family-run businesses to global corporate groups. Quite a few start-ups are the work of women graduates of WHU. On this page we introduce you to some of our alumnae.

Birgit Bohle, D 1998
CEO at DB Fernverkehr AG / Deutsche Bahn

Birgit Bohle, D 1998
CEO at DB Fernverkehr AG / Deutsche Bahn

Name:
Birgit Maria Bohle, born Rauwald

Degree:
Diplom-Kauffrau, Class of 1998; MBA at the University of Texas, Austin

Marital status:
married

Children:
2

Current Position:
Chairperson of DB Fernverkehr AG

Professional background:
After having finished my studies, I got into the Bertelsmann AG in 1999 as a consultant for central corporate development. Since 2000 I had worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Company, ending as Associate Principal in the traveling and logistics sector. In 2007 I switched to Corporate Sales at the Deutsche Bahn, initially in business development. In 2010 I joined the management board and took over the chairmanship of the board in October 2011. Since September 1st, 2015 I am now the chairperson of the DB Fernverkehr AG.

What is the best thing you took away from your studies at WHU (both professionally and privately)?
Definitely my husband, as we were in the same year! Furthermore, getting to know different countries and cultures. Moreover the program at WHU provided me with a very solid business education that set the path for my future professional career. Last but not least WHU taught me that besides working very hard, the fun part should never be cut short.

What advice would you give a WHU alumna today?
If the circumstances permit: Choose a boss who can, on one hand teach you things, and on the other hand provide you with enough free space and flexibility. If you can achieve this then the rest will fall into place by itself! I want to advice younger women especially to enter the market directly. This will provide you with plenty of time to effectively compete in the workplace, before having children even becomes a potential topic.

What does success mean to you?
It has always been my main motivation to change and improve something. If I achieve that together with a team I see that as a success, which for me is extremely motivating.

Archive:

Uta Hoffmann, Kellogg-WHU EMBA 2013
Customer Business Unit Director at Aptiv

Name:
Uta Hoffmann

Professional qualification:
International Business Studies (Dresden University of Applied Sciences); EMBA 2013 (Kellogg-WHU)

Family status:
Single

Professional experience:
My first role as an international management trainee at Benteler, a global automotive supplier, gave me the opportunity early in my career to learn about the different business divisions of a company, and to work on challenging projects with management personnel. I then entered the Central Purchasing department as a buyer, where I fairly quickly embarked on further challenges overseas as the Head of Purchasing and Internal Logistics in South Africa. After my return and another management role in the Purchasing department, I switched to logistics, which included both external and internal logistics and production planning, thus complementing my expertise along the entire supply chain. In 2011, I moved to Denmark to accept a great opportunity as a Logistics Manager in a recently-acquired production plant, and was soon responsible for logistics management in the region, comprising Denmark, Sweden and Norway. I also completed my EMBA during this time. Shortly after the end of the program, I joined Delphi in Luxembourg as the Director of the Integrated Supply Chain EMEA, in charge of logistics, production planning and customs for 44 plants. As an executive at Delphi, I was then able to switch to the Electronics Controls division which included, among others, the driver assistance systems product area, the precursor of the systems that operate autonomous vehicles. I have overall responsibility for the business of various automotive manufacturers in this growing and exciting product segment. In May 2016 I also became the Managing Director for the 12 Delphi sites in Germany.

What are the best things you gained from your studies at WHU (professionally and personally)?
Friendships that have endured to this day. Professionally, I enjoyed being involved in different areas and gaining knowledge in sectors in which I had no previous professional experience.

What advice would you give to a graduate of WHU today?
Maybe two things. Firstly, the professional sector in which you find your first job isn’t too important; the main thing is that you gain experience and consider your next steps carefully, and then actively pursue them.  The other point is to try and find a mentor who can help you and from whom you can learn. In any case, never be afraid of asking for things that will further your career. You create your own luck! 

What does success mean to you?
Success is very important to me. Success is when I have achieved my goals, but they don’t always have to be large goals; the small ones also count. 

Name:
Sonja Stuchtey

Degree:
Diploma in Business Administration from WHU 1994 (7th year)

Marital status:
Married to Martin (9th year)

Children:
6 children

Current Position:
Senior Advisor at SYSTEMIQ Lt.

Professional experience:
I started out – like so many – as a business consultant, in my case with Booz.Allen & Hamilton, with a focus on telecommunications and cross-industry operations. When we had our first child, I left this path and went into business for myself, initially with a regionally positioned consultancy (Nota-Bene). This was during the boom in the new market, so rapid growth involved lots of travel, too. It was during this dynamic that we were confronted with the penetrating How? What for? Why? questions of our eldest. In 2002, a chemist and I founded “Science Lab,” the independent educational institution to promote early-childhood discovery and understanding of science. This quickly evolved into a social franchise, with branches throughout Germany. The program comprises courses for children, kindergarten and school projects, teacher training and targeted talent promotion, with content centering around science, technology and mathematics. Our books are used to train pre-school and school teachers (30,000 copies sold – that should have an impact ;-)). We now offer our in-service training in Spain, Italy, France, Chile and Brazil.
Beginning in 2010, we administered a dose of democratization to the Social Business Science Lab and transformed it into a non-profit association that I could place in dedicated hands with a good conscience. This enabled me, at the beginning of 2014, to devote myself to research, and to work with Prof. Prenzel of TUM (keyword: PISA) to explore how human resources development is practiced – or neglected – among teachers. The aim is to gain fresh leverage on the question of education that is so essential for our society and our economy.

What is the best thing you learned from your studies at WHU (in both your professional and personal life)?
In my personal life, the best thing came just before the end of my time at WHU: at – or rather with – the WHU Theater, Martin came into my life and stirred it up mightily. In my career – and in my personal life as well – I already discovered that the most exciting visions and the most fascinating insights can be found among people with atypical résumés. It’s better to listen and look, I learned – and that you’re able to do more than you thought possible if the bar is set high. There’s always room for a little more!

What advice would you give a woman graduating from WHU today?
Get your career off to an early start! That creates experience, networks and a certain serenity if you want to combine family life and career. Serenity is a good companion to begin with, because dogged career planning can easily obstruct your view for chances and opportunities along the way. Of which there are more than you’d think. And a person coming from WHU has the tools and what it takes to seize them. ;-)

What does success mean for you?
Achieving change for the better – to me, that’s success. The more thoroughly change is institutionalized – to help make the improvement permanent – the more successful I feel my work has been.

Dr. Tanja Prinzessin zu Waldeck, D 2001
CEO at Burda Forward

Name:
Dr. Tanja Prinzessin zu Waldeck

Degree:
Diplom-Kauffrau, Class of 2001; Doctorate

Marital status:
Married

Children:
Four (Charlotte, Philippa, Freya, Josias)

Current Position:
CEO Burda Forward

Professional background:
After finishing my studies at WHU, I worked at McKinsey for several years. When I was pregnant with my first child, I founded NetMoms, a website for parents, along with two other WHU alumni, Jens Echterling and Steffi Staar. Our idea was to create a Facebook network for mothers. Over the course of time we added a big guide for parents and an entertainment area, as well as apps and further service offerings. In the meantime, we are one of the largest women and parent sites in Germany. In 2012 we sold the company to Burda and I moved into the management of their digital publishing offerings (FOCUS Online, Huffington Post, NetMoms, Finanzen100, AMICA). On March 1st I will move into the management of the digital content marketing company Burda Forward Group. We are able to reach more than 34 million people a month with our services.

What is the best thing you took away from your studies at WHU (both professionally and privately)?
The best things are the many friendships, which last! Of course it is not possible to see and meet one another as often as one would wish, but the connection will ever last.

What advice would you give a WHU alumna today?
Today I would enjoy my time at WHU quite differently. Things you held important at that time are now, 15 years later, no longer important at all. Therefore, just ease off, and pick up the great atmosphere, the many friends and the exciting opportunities to learn or do something new every day.

What does success mean to you?
To me, success means to act and be in an environment in which I am comfortable and can achieve greatness with one another. I just like to win - a lot of friends and acquaintances can tell painful stories of how bad I am at losing when playing games or sports :) Yet still have fun doing it. However, I can only enjoy professional success when everything is okay with my family. For me, this is the basis of every action - my ying and yang.

Top Alumna

Birgit Bohle, D 1998
CEO DB Fernverkehr AG