With an official opening event held June 21, 2018, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and METRO AG marked the beginning of a new cooperation. The WHU Entrepreneurship Center and the corporate group from Düsseldorf will work together closely as partners in the future. The goal of the partnership is to provide practical and scientific networking in the areas of entrepreneurship and life-long learning.
For Professor Dr. Christoph Hienerth, the Academic Director of the WHU Entrepreneurship Center, the cooperation represents a link between two strong partners that stand to benefit from one another’s expertise. Where entrepreneurship is concerned, the people are the factor that matters most of all, Hienerth pointed out. He expressly welcomes the METRO AG strategy that systematically promotes employees and customers and develops them as entrepreneurs. This is an area in which he intends to share knowledge through the WHU Entrepreneurship Center.
“In this, we are pursuing three fundamental goals that will also play a significant role in shaping our partnership with METRO AG,” explains Monika Hauck, who is in charge of the Center as its Managing Director. “In the field of research and education, the Center relies on knowledge generation and knowledge diffusion. The focus is on tools and methods to identify promising business ideas and various options for cooperation between investors, established businesses and start-ups,” Hauck notes. The Center also provides its partners with coaching and support – by promoting an in-house culture of entrepreneurship and creativity, for instance, or carrying out Open Innovation projects together with students and start-ups. The long-term goal is to create a WHU entrepreneurship ecosystem. The 40 members of the Center's own committee meet annually. With membership including representatives of start-ups, the media, universities, investors and businesses – and which in the future will include two representatives of METRO AG – the committee represents the German entrepreneurship scene and fosters exchange and networking among students, scientists, alumni and industry.
Tino Zeiske, Global Group Director Talent Management & Recruiting at METRO AG, sees the cooperation as a source of major potential for the future. In his remarks, he underscored the shared history that already exists between WHU and METRO AG and expressed his joy at the high number of WHU graduates and students already working for the company today. For Heiko Hutmacher, too – Chief HR Officer and Labour Director at METRO AG – the cooperation is not a project begun from scratch but rather a formalization and intensification of linkages already in place. For several years, , he explained, his company has consistently promoted a new self-understanding and a new corporate culture, toward more entrepreneurial thinking, higher self-governance and freedom of choice among employees, as well as more extensive support for customers from the retail segment. This is possible thanks not least to the strong involvement and training of employees and customers alike. It is this shared focus on entrepreneurship and life-long learning, he pointed out, that makes cooperation with WHU particularly appealing.