Studying an MBA at WHU allows students to step outside of their usual roles and explore new topics or interests. Perhaps it is a wish to dive into entrepreneurial thinking or expand a network; an MBA presents fresh and exciting options. One way is through one of the clubs organized by students, which provides an exchange of knowledge, skills, and potential job opportunities.
Student-run groups at WHU and specifically in the MBA include the Women in Business Club, the Consulting Club, the Family Business Club, the Entrepreneurship Roundtable, and the Life Science Club. In 2022, three new student clubs launched, including the Real Estate Club, the Future of Marketing Club, and the Automotive Club. The latter is co-managed by a group of MBA students. Each take turns in a leadership position, each given the opportunity to manage the club and coordinate its events.
“There are a lot of amazing student clubs at WHU, and you could easily have one for every topic or industry,” says founding member Cihan Sügür. “Automotive is one of the largest industries in Germany. I decided I would do an easy field study: I searched for those working in the automotive industry on LinkedIn and found more than 400 people from WHU. So why not bring these people together and open up the network.”
Cihan has worked for Porsche since 2018, currently as the lead for their digital strategy. He joined the WHU Part-Time MBA program after being chosen for the CIO Young Talent Award. “Winning the scholarship was a game-changer as it allowed me to study at WHU sooner than planned. My goal was to pursue an MBA in the mid-term of my career, but this happened at the right time. I love the entrepreneurial spirit and the network at WHU.”
The club’s first event kicked off with the president and CEO of Porsche North America, Dr. Kjell Gruner. “Interestingly, he is a WHU alumnus,” laughs Cihan. “We wanted a top-notch speaker, and we had almost 200 people in our first event. Students want to hear from experienced executives in the industry with plenty of insights they can share.” Recent events include Anja Hendel, managing director of diconium - a software subsidiary of the VW Group. The previous event on March 29 was a joint event together with the WHU Family Business Club - featuring Eric Küppers, CEO of the family-owned Rosenberger Group (an automotive supplier with over 14k employees and revenue of 1.5 billion).
However, Cihan is acutely aware of and careful to prevent the club from becoming male-dominated. “It was important that we had a very diverse founding team. We don’t want to be a group of young white males who all look or think the same. We are also looking at other possibilities for people to join as active members. We have set up a sounding board that allows WHU members to contribute to the club and its further development – this includes alumni and students from Campus Vallendar.”
For Cihan, studying for an MBA is like experiencing a shift in perspective. “It’s almost like learning to read again. You look at things from a new angle. For example, some people might think they know how to read an annual report. Then you sit in the class of Professor Garen Markarian, learn to interpret 10-K reports, and realize that you didn’t know much at all. It is the same in “Financial Entrepreneurship” with Professor Serden Özcan. These are key moments where you feel your knowledge growing.”
Cihan also speaks of his interest in the entrepreneurial focus at WHU, participating in the VCIC Challenge (an international venture capital competition of the best business schools worldwide) in February 2022. Together with the academic advisor Professor Dries Faems, the WHU team achieved an impressive second place in the South Europe division.
“Entrepreneurship is a fascinating topic, to build an idea from scratch and scale it up. The WHU Entrepreneurship Center is a great source of inspiration regarding start-ups and projects coming from the school. As a WHU student, there is no day without entrepreneurial inspiration, which can happen during class or just being part of the WHU community. I am curious to see where the entrepreneurial and financial skills I gained at WHU will take me after the MBA. Whether that is as a founder or in an entrepreneurial role within Porsche.”