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Guest speaker holds talk at 2023 WHU SensAbility conference.

SensAbility Attendees “Choose to Change”

The SensAbility conference features an illustrious panel of guests and speakers

The twelfth annual SensAbility – The WHU Impact Summit was held on the Vallendar campus at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management from March 31 to April 1. This year’s conference, titled “Choose to Change,” aimed to show students and young professionals from all branches and fields that success need not come at the cost of the environment—and that it is now more important than ever to work toward ensuring a more sustainable and responsible future for the business world.

Over two days of panels and workshops, the SensAbility summit welcomed a large group of attendees passionate about finding that balance. Among them is Julius de Gruyter (BSc, 2024), member of the organizing team. In a recent interview with SWR2, he spoke about the power that the newer generations have to act today and now: “We cannot rely solely on politics here. We too have to pick up the reins.”

The conference offered interesting ways of interacting with experts on a variety of hot topics—from agriculture to mobility to the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace. Enapter co-founder Vaitea Cowen, an advocate of greenly sourced hydrogen, gave a speech calling for the end to the fossil fuel era, followed by Dr. Alexandra Becker, CEO at GMH Group, who discussed the environmentally friendly production of steel through the use of electric arc furnaces. As they noted in their joint Q&A, green hydrogen could play a vital role in the decarbonization of various industries. Keynote speaker Tim Schumacher, an impact and climate investor, then took the stage to share his experiences with co-founding Ecosia, a Berlin-based independent search engine that uses its profits to plant trees and finance the Ecosia World Fund.

One highlight of this year’s conference was the appearance of Philipp Glöckler and Philipp Klöckner, who broadcast an episode of their popular Doppelgänger Tech Talk podcast live from the WHU campus. The dynamic duo led an in-depth discussion on artificial intelligence, focusing on the immense impact (both negative and positive) it could have on society, and on the legality of the technology in light of the recent ban of ChatGPT in Italy. “For the time being, it’s still quite containable. But I’m pretty convinced we could quickly reach a point where that’s no longer the case, and that we won’t be able to recognize when we’ve crossed that line,” said Glöckler.

Notably, the conference did not focus solely on theory. There were also a fair share of activities putting that theory to the test, including the SensAbility Pitch Battle, which saw start-ups vie for a chance at a cash prize of €7,500. The jury—composed of Peter Schmetz, Selina Neumann, Jens Voss, and Philipp Gerber—awarded the start-up Kerith first place for best meeting their criteria, including innovation, market potential, customer acceptance, sustainable impact, and more. Kerith helps other firms go carbon-neutral and save on their energy costs.

The SensAbility group, under the academic direction of Professor Christoph Hienerth from the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group at WHU, has one core mission: to educate the community through focused discussion on the most effective ways of ensuring a greener tomorrow without compromising profit margin. To learn more about their world and their collaborations with other clubs, you can visit their official site.

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