Professor Bodo Schlegelmilch to take a leading role at AMBA

March 20, 2017

Prof. Schlegelmilch sprach mit uns über seine Zukunftspläne.

The Association of MBAs (AMBA) has appointed Prof. Bodo B. Schlegelmilch as AMBA’s Vice Chair. For quite some time already, he serviced as a trustee on AMBA’s Board. In that role, Prof. Bodo B. Schlegelmilch was able to leverage his tight network with deans from other accredited business schools, being the Founding Dean of the WU Executive Academy himself, as well as his extensive executive teaching experience in 30 countries. These combined insights will help him examine other business schools which seek AMBA’s seal of approval. The increase in duties and responsibilities for AMBA also means some changes for his other roles at the WU Executive Academy.

In a recent interview, we asked Prof. Schlegelmilch about his plans for the future.

Prof. Bodo B. Schlegelmilch Photo © Sebastian Freiler Photography
Prof. Bodo B. Schlegelmilch Photo © Sebastian Freiler Photography

We heard that you are taking a leading role in AMBA. What tasks will your new role bring?

The Association of MBAs accredits MBA, DBA and Master’s degrees of top business schools in over 70 countries. AMBA is also a professional membership association that connects MBA students, graduates, accredited business schools and MBA employers throughout the world. The Board of Trustees is responsible for the overall control and strategic direction of AMBA and my colleagues at the Board have kindly appointed me as Vice Chair.

What does this mean for your activities at the WU Executive Academy?

I will be stepping down as Academic Director for our two Executive MBAs I founded – the Global Executive MBA and the EMBA Bucharest. There are two reasons: First, it would be a conflict of interest as AMBA is also one of the important external accreditation organizations of the WU Executive Academy programs. Second, the new position is actually a quite responsible and time-demanding job and I would not have sufficient time to devote to the two MBA programs.

When will the Executive MBA programs at WU Vienna be affected by the change in leadership?

Well, the handover has actually started and I expect that the leadership transition will be finalized before the start of the Executive MBA Bucharest in November. I am very confident that Barbara Stöttinger, who I have been working with for almost two decades, will do a great job continuing to grow the two programs and let them thrive together with the WU Executive Academy team.

Do you still plan to teach in the MBAs?
Yes, and I look forward to teaching more, if time permits. From a very personal point of view, I think the way our MBA students interact with faculty is wonderful, because they are always very open, inspiring and personable. I always felt incredibly welcome by the classes I have taught in Vienna and abroad. Next to being outstanding executives, our students are just genuinely nice people.

With experiences in 30 countries on 6 different continents, what has this taught you about teaching working professionals?

I have been  teaching executives around the world – in India, China, Japan, the U.S. and so on – and the only difference is that we use different examples. It is helpful for executives to put business issues in the context of their own markets while being cognizant of global interconnections.  Yet, I don’t think there are fundamental differences between nationalities. You find good students, better ones and not-so-good ones virtually everywhere.

What about companies? Are there any differences in how they support their employees’ MBA training?

An MBA is expensive in terms of money and time; yet people and companies all over the world see the value of the investment. Often, companies encourage their managers to enroll in an Executive MBA either by making time available or with financial support in some cases.

As Founding Dean and now AMBA Vice Chair, what’s an important thing for MBA providers to consider?
You have to make sure alumni are satisfied and you achieve this by presenting relevant knowledge and experiences in an engaging fashion. Business schools recruiting in competitive environments such as Europe, have to make sure that the satisfaction of students with the program is high and that their alumni, in a way, become their sales representatives, their ambassadors. So the fact that you have to satisfy your customers is absolute key.

You mentioned an interesting fact, why would alumni act be a decision making factor for a potential student?

If you consider pursuing an MBA degree and you start your due-diligence, most people look at accreditation such as AMBA, and rankings, for example by the Financial Times. Next, they will  find out who graduated from the programs they are considering and what kind of careers these graduates made. Often, there is somebody in their circle of friends, company or social networks to ask, who can share his or her personal experience.

Clearly, if the experience of an alumnus was negative, the business school will have a tough time selling their program. With all our marketing experience and approaches, it is still the personal experience that really does make the difference.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Both of the Executive MBAs I’m handing over are “triple accredited” meaning they have AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS accreditation, and only 77 business schools worldwide can say this. This quality recognition would not have been possible without a devoted team of at the Executive Academy.  I am confident that Barbara Stöttinger, along with the team of the Executive Academy, will not only do an excellent job in maintaining the high standards of the MBA programs but also continue to develop the entire portfolio of executive education offerings of the WU Executive Academy. I would like to wish Barbara and her team good luck for this.

Thank you for this interview.


Over the upcoming months, these two specialists in executive education will work together to make a smooth transition of leadership. The new academic leadership will impact the future of the Global Executive MBA and the Executive MBA Bucharest. Prof. Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of the WU Executive Academy, was asked for her comments.

Prof. Barbara Stöttinger Photo © Heinz Zeggl
Prof. Barbara Stöttinger Photo © Heinz Zeggl

“I will take over two outstanding programs which have greatly contributed to the prosperity and reputation of WU Executive Academy. It puts me and the team in a good position to continue along this way,” says Prof. Barbara Stöttinger.

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