Is there such an Executive MBA on weekends

The students of the CUR Executive MBA course have been learning how to recognize and master corporate crises for 20 years. However, the current year of study is experiencing firsthand how to deal with the greatest crisis of the post-war period. We found out in conversation with Professor Jörg Baetge and Professor Martin Artz that this also has positive sides.

The corona pandemic still has a firm grip on the world - have you already experienced anything like this in your career at the university?

Prof. Baetge:

No, I have never experienced anything like this in my life. I am very happy that today we have the technical possibilities to master such a challenge. If all students had to take a year off, it would be a disaster. So I am very concerned about developments in our schools.

Prof. Artz:

We have never had such a change in such a short time. That is also shown by the public discussion, which makes comparisons with the Spanish flu and the Second World War. That shows the dimension that we are exposed to overall and that of course reflects the situation that universities are exposed to. Nevertheless, as a university, we are well prepared for it. Overall, at the University of Münster and especially in the Executive MBA course - this is also shown by the reactions of the participants in the previous year - we mastered this challenge very well.

For our students, I currently see the great opportunity that they can develop the ability to make decisions under uncertain framework conditions. Industry-specific shocks are also to be expected in the future, albeit not of this intensity. But when we think of technological upheavals, changed customer behavior or massive competitive reactions that can change the business basis of entire industries overnight, then in this situation we can learn a lot for the future and prepare our graduates for it.

How do you rate the benefits of the digital courses for the students?

Prof. Artz:

The digital courses prepare students for what the modern world of work will look like after the pandemic. We are currently observing how work routines are changing and expect a lot of interaction to take place in the online environment. In our course of study, not only what we teach, but also how we teach it, shows the way in which companies will communicate after Corona. The students will need the skills to be able to argue in a digital environment, to contribute and present their own thoughts, for their career development in the future.

At the moment, of course, we are all a bit digitally tired - in the future, when many of the everyday contacts can take place again in the real world, this will no longer be the case. The then smaller share of digital communication that we will have in the future will be varied and productive. And we have to prepare our graduates for this too.

Prof. Baetge:

We have seen students ask questions and we can respond to them. So the virtual lectures turned out to be lively and if you take into account that the students do not have to travel, I find the digital teaching even advantageous. Of course, the students - and I too - enjoy a classroom lecture more. You sit in a U-shape and I also walk around and, if someone gives a good answer, I also say “Give me Five” and the students have a lot of fun with it.

So it has positive aspects, it is a great relief and if the students join in, then it is not bad at all - it would be a misfortune if we did not have these technical possibilities. Of course, being in Münster has the advantage that you can experience people personally and look into their eyes.

What is your recommendation to our students?

Prof. Artz:

This problem of the current situation - digitization, virtual lectures and the high degree of uncertainty that goes with it - requires significantly more initiative and self-discipline. At first this sounds very negative and problematic. But there is a great opportunity to learn something from it for future challenges that you have to master as a young executive.

While we can also transmit the technical content of the course digitally, there is a greater obligation on the part of the students - and here we support as much as possible - to maintain social interaction. Students should ensure that they actively participate in lectures, ask questions and bring experiences to create a lively atmosphere. The visible reluctance in a digital environment with regard to verbal contributions must be broken up in order to enable a content-related discussion. More initiative is required here than in the natural environment in which everyone is sitting in one room. I recommend that all students embrace this challenge as an opportunity to get fit for the digital work environment in their EMBA studies.

Prof. Baetge:

Since the students do not have to travel and have more time in the home office, they should use this time to intensively educate themselves. The Executive MBA course not only imparts knowledge, but the degree is also a very good basis for further career development. Hopefully, personal contact with fellow students can also be made up for soon.

The interview was conducted by Konstantin Heinrich.