MBA Program

How the WHU MBA Program Is Adapting and Evolving

Keeping WHU running: MBA students offer their insights into the digital shift.

As business schools around the world get to grips with the sudden changes to traditional teaching, the WHU MBA Program has switched “seamlessly” to its digital format. As existing students and new students joining this month are now thrown into the deep end with these developments, we find out how they are adapting and coping.

One of the biggest and most attractive elements of the WHU MBA Program is the sense of community and cooperation among students and alumni, with extensive access to a diverse network of professionals from all over the world. With virtual connections between students currently replacing what would normally occur in class, how have the new students adapted? “We have been spending evenings socializing together, which obviously helps us to get to know each other better. We also do it to practice communication for the upcoming workshops and group tasks,” says Amir Jabbari, who is joining the Full-Time MBA Program this month. “When we signed up for this program and became a community, I think it’s important to act and feel like a community, so we have to work on a solution together and keep driving each other forward.”

“Canceling or postponing would be too easy. We should adapt and keep trying.”

Amir moved to Germany from Iran in January with a background in engineering. Leaving a sales role with an Austrian-based company, he experienced an international community whilst previously living in Russia, which encouraged him to seek out an international career. “I was a part of a very diverse and international community there. This gave me an insight into my life and career goals for the future. Part of studying the MBA for me is that if I want to compete internationally or work in an international company, then I need a degree that gives me those insights and experience.”

While digital learning has been around for some time in terms of tools such as Skype or Zoom, the new challenge for the program is translating those new formats in a way that is effective for workshops and student collaboration. Carola Voss, a current student from the Part-Time MBA Program has found the new format in some ways, more effective than when in class. “It has felt more communicative and less disruptive,” she says. “With the chat function, you can post questions during the lecture and sometimes we answer each other without interrupting the professor. The technology works well and helps the classes run smoother. It’s just a different way of learning and you have to be ready to adapt.”

“You can embrace the change and learn from the experience, or you only hold yourself back.”

“The best thing about it all is that no matter what, I am still learning. I have all my courses scheduled and nothing is disrupted for me in terms of my career path,” says Catherine Botha, a Full-Time MBA student who is halfway through her WHU journey. “WHU moved so seamlessly to this digital format, whereas I have a family member whose university education has stalled because of the current situation. Now the days indoors pass much faster, because you are stimulated through the classes and interacting with your classmates. As of this week I also restarted my German classes online!”

What is evident with many of the students is that outside of the digital lectures and workshops, many of them are making time to socialize online. Whether taking a virtual walk together in their respective local parks or online dinner dates, many students are keeping the community alive. “We had an exam the other day,” says Catherine, “and I was receiving messages of support wishing me good luck. We have a strong community and we are coming up with creative ways to stay in touch. People are turning on their cameras from all over the world in between classes, just to stay connected and check in with each other.”

“It is inevitable that we need to adapt to change, especially within the scope of business.”

“In my opinion” adds Amir, “in the next ten years we will face challenges like these as business becomes more complex and digital transformation has a greater impact on communication. To find solutions to these challenges, we need to have managers to have some experience in these situations. I consider myself somewhat lucky to be joining the MBA Program at this time of crisis, as I am experiencing what will come in the future. I feel more prepared and ready to adapt to this digital domain.”

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