Just as the fall season was welcoming students back to campus, it was also steeling itself to say goodbye to others. Such was the case last Friday, with those enrolled in the master’s programs at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management sitting side by side at the town hall in Vallendar to bring an end to their intense studies. With their family and friends (more than 1,500 attendees), the graduates will assuredly remember that crisp September day forever.
After a brief musical introduction from Chopin, as rendered by WHU alumnus David Baumgärtner (BSc, 2014), Dean Markus Rudolf took the stage, lit up in blue and violet, to address the graduating body. “I usually try to address students with something entertaining,” he began, “but this year I have to say something serious. We don’t know what the winter will bring, and we live in times where democracy is at risk. And you are still very young and have the power to make a difference. You’re going to be thought leaders in your companies, your environments, and your countries. And you’re much more capable than others of shaping the future and changing the world.” After giving the audience something to think about and thanking the teams and students at WHU for making the day possible, he introduced keynote speaker Harm Ohlmeyer, Chief Financial Officer of adidas.
“Today is about all of you,” Ohlmeyer said to the graduates, complimenting them all on the three values they have all shown: courage, respect, and authenticity. “And I have tremendous respect for what you’ve all done.” He echoed Dean Rudolf’s words, noting the role the previous generation had already played in pushing society forward. It is that same role the next generation—these graduates—will play. Once Ohlmeyer’s speech arrived at its conclusion, Dr. Steffen Löv, Program Director, was joined by his colleagues, Academic Directors Professor Christian Andres, Professor Ralf Fendel, and Professor Christoph Hienerth, to invite the first group of students to take the stage. Hundreds of graduating students were present on the day, collecting their degrees and celebrating the moment in person.