Among the world players regarding business schools, Europe has been gaining momentum in the growth and quality of its MBA programs. As self-improvement and leadership development become key mantras among today’s executives, MBA programs must adapt to fulfill the rising demand – and Germany is happily rising to meet it.
WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and its MBA Program ranked #1 in Germany in the 2020 Financial Times Global MBA Ranking. One of its driving forces is an expert faculty dedicated to pushing the known boundaries of knowledge and provide the latest insights. We start a series of professor profiles with Professor Dr. Martin Fassnacht, Academic Director of the WHU MBA Program and head of the Chair of Strategy and Marketing.
Why do you feel it is important to have faculty who are actively engaged in research?
"The research conducted by the faculty at WHU is remarkable. Our high-quality research is one of the key pillars of excellence at WHU. This allows us to not only provide our students with the most recent and relevant knowledge, but also be visible in the scientific world. We strive for research that is applicable to the business world, so many research projects at WHU are in fact, conducted jointly with key corporate partners."
How do your particular courses in the MBA program directly benefit the progression of students and why are they important for effective leaders?
- Marketing (core module): "Regardless of the industry, understanding the customer is essential for a company to find success for its products and services. In this course, students tackle the idea of putting the needs of the customer at the center of the organization and learn how to apply a customer-centric approach."
- Price Management: "We focus on the premise that price is the strongest profit driver. It has a direct impact on profits, a direct impact on sales volume, and an indirect influence on fixed costs. Within the scope of price management, students are familiarized with the price management process and its four steps: Strategy phase, analysis phase, decision-making phase, and implementation phase."
- Omnichannel Business: "Digitalization in all its technological facets will radically change the traditional retail landscape. Companies must adapt to this changing environment if they wish to be successful during digital transformation. This course focuses on how omnichannel business can realize consumer-centric growth in the digital age."
Which research topic/projects are you currently involved with?
"Currently, our research focuses on the topic of premiumization as an attractive growth strategy. In the last decade, many firms have reduced the number of brands substantially to focus on the core brands in their portfolio. Considering this development, we aim to contribute to the understanding of premiumization in general and to provide guidelines on how to apply different premiumization strategies.
Furthermore, we are looking at the automotive industry and automotive retail. We are working on a project that deals with transformation and innovation in the automotive industry. Since the traditional car trade distribution seems to have become an outdated model, we aim to investigate how the automotive transformation will affect the retail landscape."
What has been a particular highlight of your career so far at WHU?
"For me, it is a great honor to hold the position of Academic Director of the WHU MBA Program and to have the opportunity to help develop it as a #1 ranked program. I am also very proud of our strong collaboration between WHU and Henkel: The Henkel Center for Consumer Goods (HCCG) already celebrated its 10th anniversary last year."
What would you like to tell prospective students with regards to the WHU MBA program?
"An MBA is a great opportunity to prepare for a changing business environment – during the MBA program you will expand your business and management knowledge, develop an in-depth understanding of management tools, and challenge your personal and leadership skills as the program forces you to step outside of your comfort zone. You will also have access to an extensive alumni network, which will not only help you to build your professional network but will also enable you to create long-lasting friendships."
What do you believe will be the most crucial skills for MBA students in the future?
"One of the most valuable assets of future leaders will be the ability to understand and continuously embrace emerging technologies. They will need the ability to act in an agile manner, understand their teams, and encourage others to shine. From my perspective, effective leadership requires knowledge, networking, and inspiration for both the professional and private life."