Agility and Growth in Volatile Times

On September 25, the 2nd WHU Campus for Corporate Transformation took place at the WHU Campus in Düsseldorf.

Top-class speakers shared their practical experience on the topic of "Agility and Growth in Volatile Times" with around 100 participants.

In his welcoming address at the beginning of the conference, Professor Dr. Serden Ozcan, Associate Dean for Corporate Connections and Chair for Innovation and Corporate Transformation, was pleased that, for the second time, some of Germany's most experienced and well-known executives met at the WHU Campus for Corporate Transformation to discuss current issues in the field of corporate transformation.

The conference aimed at creating a comprehensive picture of the current digital transformation based on the speakers’ different perspectives. Lars Förberg, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Cevian Capital and Board Member at ABB, kicked off the event by reporting on his practical experience as an activist investor.

Olaf Koch, Chairman of the Management Board at METRO AG, gave insights into the CEO's perspective on corporate transformation. In his presentation, Koch showed how METRO has succeeded over the past 13 to 14 years in responding to changing customer needs and completely renewing and restructuring the company's business model and portfolio. The biggest challenges, he said, were, on the one hand, the changed information and shopping behavior of the customers as a result of the introduction of mobile end devices in 2007. On the other hand, international growth has forced the company to adapt to the individual needs and markets of other countries.

Sabine Bendiek, Chairwoman of the Management Board at Microsoft Germany, addressed the challenges facing her industry in her presentation: in the IT sector, more and more value is placed rather on innovation than on tradition. Andreas Neumann, Member of the Board of Managing Directors at Boehringer Ingelheim, on the other hand, described the tightrope act of a family-owned company as neither forgetting one's own tradition nor losing touch with modernity. WHU alumnus Julian Deutz, who works for Axel Springer SE as CFO, shed light on the financial aspects of corporate transformation. He showed how the company was able to transform itself from a publisher of mostly German print media to an international company with a revenue of about 74 percent of digital products.

The event concluded with two plenary debates, including one on corporate transformation from the CIO perspective, moderated by Dr. Peter Kreutter, Director of the WHU Foundation, and the closing words by Professor Dr. Stefan Spinler, Director of the Kühne Institute for Logistics Management at WHU.

The 3rd Campus for Corporate Transformation will take place on 23 September 2020 on the topic "Leading Corporate Transformation in an Uncertain World."