The Controller of the Future

More than 150 managers and controlling experts discussed current issues in Controlling and the required skill-set at the 13th WHU Campus for Controlling.

Are we asking too much? Is the controller of the future required to be a jack of all trades, master of none? Surely not – but what is expected then? Which roles and competencies must the controller fulfil? What has changed in German companies that operate around the globe, and where will we be 20 years from now? The 13th WHU Campus for Controlling raised many questions, sparked exciting discussions and provided interesting insights into Controllers’ work routines at the same time. More than 150 participants from all over Germany accepted the invitation from Professor Dr. Marko Reimer, Professor Dr. Utz Schäffer, and Professor Dr. Dr. h. c. Jürgen Weber of the Institute of Management Accounting and Control (IMC) of WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management to exchange their experiences and follow the keynotes in the lecture hall. 

“We will tackle some controversial topics today”, said Jürgen Weber in his introductory words. Together with Utz Schäffer, he guided the participants through the program. Classical issues of Controlling practices were part of the agenda, but in the end, everyone always came back to the same hot topics: digitalization and artificial intelligence as its second wave. 

This was exactly what Utz Schäffer discussed in the first keynote of the day, when he presented the results of the WHU Delphi Study on “Future Controller Roles and Competencies”. The expert survey provides an answer to the question which tasks Controllers must carry out in times of digitalization, by mapping out nine role-specific competencies. According to Petra Scharner-Wolff (Member of the Executive Board CFO, Controlling, Human Resources Otto Group) and Louise Öfverström (Head of CAR - Controlling, Accounting & Risk, thyssenkrupp Steel Europe) a changing mindset and flexibility are key to a successful transformation. In their keynotes, they told the audience about changes in their own companies – a family firm with 13,4 bn. Euro turnover and the industrial giant thyssenkrupp, with a focus on steel processing. The participants particularly appreciated the specific examples of processes.

The afternoon continued to provide hands-on examples with keynotes by Dr. Nils Kaschner (CFO AXA Germany) und Professor Dr. Peter Buxmann (Head of the Software & Digital Business Group at Technische Universität Darmstadt). While Nils Kaschner touched upon the transformation at AXA and the connection of Finance and Business, Peter Buxmann raised some fundamental questions on digitalization and artificial intelligence. Spanning the period from the pioneers of AI in the 1950s to current technical and ethical issues, he developed some thought-provoking impulses for the audience of the WHU Campus for Controlling.

The 14th WHU Campus for Controlling is scheduled for 4 September 2020.