MBA Program

Fostering Thoughtful Leaders in the WHU MBA Program

Daniel Weninger sheds light on the transformative power of an MBA.

Alumnus, lecturer, and coach in the WHU MBA Program, Daniel Weninger, a trained protestant theologian, discovered his passion for helping others grow while working with young people in the non-profit sector. With an organization regularly lacking resources, he found that he had a keen interest in managing and organizing people while campaigning to raise funds. This leads to several entrepreneurial projects and eventually his own business, exporting consumer goods from Europe to customers in South America. “I found that I enjoyed many aspects of business and considered pursuing an education in this field. I began researching MBA programs, which seemed just right for people like me with a certain level of professional experience. I hoped that completing an MBA would allow me to combine my two passions: helping people to grow and entrepreneurship. WHU thankfully gave me both the know-how and skills to do both.”

“What I do today at WHU is a dream come true – helping other people to grow.”

Following graduation, Daniel continued to be active in the MBA Program by developing its personal growth and leadership development projects, supporting the curriculum with coaching, and designing workshop formats. Trained in the Birkman Method (an in-depth personality assessment tool), tutored by American coach John Kerrick, and supervised by faculty member Professor Jürgen Weigand: Daniel officially took the lead a few years ago driving this unique aspect of the WHU MBA Program further. “For many people who join an MBA, they are looking to change something in their lives. It isn’t necessarily the wrong employer or wrong situation; they just feel that there is a piece missing in their professional lives.”

Throughout their studies at WHU, MBA students participate in an integrated personal leadership development module. This means that not only do they gain an academic understanding of accounting, marketing, or economics, but they also discover the insights needed to effectively lead a team and ultimately, lead themselves. This module includes coaching, 360-degree peer feedback, Birkman Method profiling, and culminates with the Leadership Credo. “This is the cornerstone event of the program and the conclusion of the personal growth journey,” explains Daniel. “For many students, the MBA is a transformational experience, which I as a coach aim to support. It’s about helping them to clarify what is next for them and the purpose they want to pursue in their lives.”

Daniel Weninger

“We help students pinpoint what the ‘big picture’ means for them.”

Kicking off with a series of workshops focused around values and motivations, the leadership development module runs in parallel to career development from the WHU Career Center. Students explore what drives them using the personality assessment before considering what impact this has on their career perspective. “During this part of the program, they experience a great deal of reflective thinking while the WHU Career Center offers support of what career direction to follow, or what skills they need to bring to their CV.”

One of the greatest challenges MBA students often face is during group work. A large portion of their studies is within these study groups, which bring together people from different backgrounds, cultures, and industries. “You learn a lot from each other but it can be a difficult process,” says Daniel. “These are people you don’t normally come in contact with, working on a tough case study together. Within our module, we show them how to identify different personality types, how to manage those connections, and how certain group dynamics can interact more effectively.”

“Students gain deeper insights into themselves to become effective leaders.” 

As the popularity of the MBA program grew, so did the number of students participating in the personal development module. To ensure a balanced level of interaction required for each student, MBA alumni volunteers support the program by training as coaches. Since 2019, the team of MBA Personal Growth Coaches has grown to 25, with one alum taking care of no more than four MBA students, thus opening up additional networking opportunities and sharing their experiences with the new students. “To see those I formerly coached now supporting current MBA students as Personal Growth Coaches is a great example of the WHU Spirit and the transformational nature of studying at WHU.”

“The WHU MBA Program is a truly transformational journey,” adds Daniel. “Students experience personal and professional development, they encounter application strategies, participate in networking, and explore their purpose and behavior through coaching. In the final Leadership Credo, each student reflects at the end of their studies what leadership principles are significant to them and how those beliefs present themselves in their lives. We challenge them and help them to grow, but that is their final chance to address their peers with all the knowledge and insights they have gained, to present themselves as leaders.”

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