WHU General

Hats Off! MBA Cohort Takes the Stage at Graduation in Düsseldorf

Over 160 MBA students celebrate their accomplishments in front of their friends, family, and the WHU Community

MBA Cohort Takes the Stage at Graduation in Düsseldorf

On May 27, at the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management bookended its MBA graduation ceremony with a musical performance by graduating student and talented pianist Benedikt Bagger (MBA, 2021). Signifying the end of an ambitious journey and the start of a new one, the hybrid event welcomed friends, family, and members of the WHU Community to celebrate this talented group of 167 young professionals of the Part-Time and Full-Time (I & II) 2021 MBA cohorts. Adorned in black robes, sashes dyed a handsome WHU blue, and traditional mortarboards, the program participants were visibly joyous as the procession began.

In his opening address, before giving a condensed review of the program’s historical significance, Professor Markus Rudolf, Dean of WHU, spoke of the delay in the in-person ceremony caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatened to rob the accomplished students of the recognition that they deserve: “We are very happy that we have you here celebrating with us. And I am especially happy that, after such a long time of pandemic, we have the chance to sit here together and be together physically. It’s a happy day for the whole WHU Community.” These sentiments were echoed by Dr. Zeeshan Sultan, Director of the MBA Program, who noted how the participants showcased the WHU spirit by choosing to delay the graduation and come together for an in-person ceremony.

As this particular group of students (33 in the first full-time batch; 49 in the second; and 85 in the part-time batch) began their studies at the turn of the decade, talks of the mysterious virus rapidly gave way to global lockdowns and a long, drawn-out period of uncertainty that touched every corner of the globe, every industry, and every academic institution. But that doubt was entirely absent from the celebration. Instead, the students evinced a sense of togetherness that could only come out of times of turmoil, and this was reflected in how class speakers Bianca Ferreira, Patrick Darby, and Tim Schwartz (FT MBA) and Patrick Klumpe and Andrea Loder (PT MBA) addressed their classmates.

Claudius Senst (WHU alumnus and CEO of BILD Group & Welt Group at Axel Springer SE) delivers his commencement speech.
Claudius Senst (WHU alumnus and CEO of BILD Group & Welt Group at Axel Springer SE) delivers his commencement speech.
Benedikt Bagger (MBA, 2021) opens the ceremony with a musical introduction.
Benedikt Bagger (MBA, 2021) opens the ceremony with a musical introduction.

In his commencement speech, Claudius Senst (WHU alumnus and CEO of BILD Group & Welt Group at Axel Springer SE) made clear that the purpose of education is to encourage independent thinking and noted the importance of this milestone. Senst also spoke of the impact that WHU had on his own professional and personal lives: “Studying is an enormous privilege for and to all of us, and maybe that is why I feel comfortable staying here. You all are the foundation of the positive development of our society—of our shared future. And we need that foundation now probably more than ever.”

During the proceedings, the students took the time to honor some of the professors whose work they felt was particularly remarkable. Walking away with the Best Teacher Award due to their outstanding level of commitment were Professor Garen Markarian (Professor of Accounting at HEC – University of Lausanne) and Professor Christian Andres (Chair of Empirical Corporate Finance at WHU), the latter of whom received this distinction twice from both batches of the Full-Time MBA students. Shortly before the close of the ceremony, Dr. Sultan reappeared on stage briefly to ask the whole student body to rise, move their tassels from right to left, and then fill the space overhead with their caps. As the students became graduates, Patrick Breuer, Board Member of In Praxi, addressed this latest batch of alumni to offer official support for the future and to distinguish Michael Augustine with the In Praxi Thesis Award.

With the students of the 2021 MBA cohort having completed their studies and taken their well-earned degrees in hand, WHU is looking to the future—one where these bright professionals are able to make a name for themselves outside the campus and in their respective industries.

One can find more information on WHU’s MBA programs here.