• That's HoDT!
  • How to adapt and master the work-life-education balance during the pandemic
  • Trust is important. In human and AI relationships.
  • Practical insights at the heart of teaching

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  • If 2020 was the year of crisis, what is 2021 going to be like in the pharma industry?
  • Getting off to a good start: Preparatory Course for new Master in Finance students
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That's HoDT!

GBS #digitalmba partner House of IT has transformed into the House of Digital Transformation. What has changed? Why now? An interview by Shirley Brucal with Dr. Cornelia Herriger, Managing Director of the House of Digital Transformation e. V..

What is Digital Transformation to you?

The digital transformation is a process that affects society as a whole and brings with it major changes - not only for civil society and the administration, for politics and companies, but for every individual. This requires technical prerequisites that must be applied in all areas of life in order to generate benefits for the individual. For us, digital transformation is therefore more than "just" the perspective on digital processes and technologies - it also includes the willingness to critically engage with these processes and technologies. By contrasting digital offerings with needs and opportunities, the House of Digital Transformation (HoDT) is helping to ensure that digitization serves people in all areas of life in the form of a constantly evolving transformation process.

Who and what is the House of Digital Transformation? What is your mission?

The HoDT sees itself as a platform that brings together various players to advance the digital transformation in Hesse. To this end, the HoDT maintains a network that connects business, science and politics in order to work together on topics of digital transformation, to exchange ideas and to inform each other. Our five pillars point to the thematic focus of our activities: 1. Research and Knowledge Transfer; 2. Continuing Education and Teaching; 3. Start-up and Growth; 4. Networking; and 5. Smart Region.

Why did you change from being the House of IT to House of Digital Transformation? Where is the difference?

Since its founding, the association has undergone a dynamic process, which due to the rapid progress of digitization, has meant that the original founding name "House of IT" no longer reflected the changed conditions and increased requirements. The further development to "House of Digital Transformation" is therefore only logical. The change of name signals that the strategic orientation of the association is changing. Digital transformation as a whole is now the focus of the association's activities, and its offerings are aimed both at companies in the IT/ICT sector and increasingly at user companies in all sectors throughout the state of Hesse.

What is your involvement with the part-time Digital Transformation MBA program at GBS?

The Digital Transformation MBA makes a significant contribution to identifying the demands placed on future managers by the digital transformation, imparting the necessary knowledge and thus enabling graduates to successfully help shape the digital transformation in their companies. As part of its thematic focus on training and education, the HoDT is participating in this in-service training program with the aim of creating the necessary conditions for successful digital transformation in broad areas of the economy.

What do you have planned for 2021?

Last year, the HoDT began developing new formats and planning activities based on them that will be offered and implemented in 2021. The aim of these formats is to provide information on the topics of digital transformation and to qualify participants with training courses (especially for user industries). To this end, the players in our network contribute their expertise and activities. They work in working groups on specific topics in order to bundle best practices, identify needs and promote exchange on these topics among themselves and with external parties. The activities of the HoDT will be extended to the whole of Hesse in order to place important topics such as AI and cybersecurity on a supra-regional level. The HoDT is looking forward to the upcoming year, the new challenges, its continuous development and the joint shaping of the digital transformation in Hesse.

How to adapt and master the work-life-education balance during the pandemic

Stephanie Dinkelaker on mastering her Digital Transformation MBA under difficult circumstances.

I believe that digital transformation is the topic of the future disrupting each and every industry as the way we communicate, we consume, we work; or simply: the way we live as humans is changing. When I heard about the new MBA program "Master of Digital Transformation Management" at Goethe Business School in 2017, I was interested immediately. I have been dealing with strategic questions concerning digitalization for nearly 10 years now, ever since I started working in different departments of Goethe University.

So I was thrilled when I found that I could pursue an MBA in Digital Transformation. Holding a PhD in biochemistry, I was keen to learn the basics in economics, gaining insights into methods like design thinking and getting to develop a real business model with some of my classmates. In the first three semesters, we had classes every second week on Friday afternoons and Saturdays. You would expect it to be quite exhausting to study after work, but I was surprised that it took me only five minutes in class and I forgot about everything else. I love learning new things and I think lifelong learning is essential for employees to constantly develop new skills.

In addition to being a part-time student, I am a mother of two. My youngest turned 12 right before the first Corona lockdown. Luckily, we were able to finish all of our MBA courses in February 2020, just as the lockdown was announced. For my classmates and me it meant: time to work on our master thesis. Unfortunately, all schools had to close from March to August. These were the longest five months in my life. My children's school was not ready for online classes yet, so they mostly received homework via the parents’ email. Life completely changed and all family members had to get used to staying at home altogether - all the time. Suddenly, we as parents had to juggle work, supervising homework, motivating kids to do sports or go outside and maintaining household. Even though GBS granted us extra time to complete our master thesis, I was under great pressure to write mine in time. I knew I wouldn’t have enough hours in silence to focus on my thesis. On top of daily tasks, developing your own ideas in a scientific fashion requires a certain amount of time without being disturbed by someone else – in this case, other family members.

In spite of everything, I was determined to finish my MBA in time and I was not willing to sacrifice it for the sake of Corona. It put me into a serious role conflict; to look after my kids or to write my thesis. So, I made a plan: The first step was writing the exposé, searching literature and defining the research question. I had a topic about female leadership in mind and found Dr. Nina Junkers, the most wonderful supervisor I could wish for.

During summer, I used the time to develop a questionnaire and evaluate my results by using the self-taught software SPSS. After the summer holidays schools were open again, but I wasn’t sure for how long. So, I took advantage of this change to finally write, since I knew the writing had to be done while schools were open. I booked time slots in the library of the university. I find the contemplative atmosphere in libraries really inspiring. I calculated how much time I would need for each chapter, I had fixed time slots and I stuck to that plan no matter how tired or worn out I was. I worked through my plan step by step. In my experience it is most important to break down big tasks into small ones and get on constantly. It also pushes your motivation if you keep in touch with some of your classmates, who are also writing their theses. Having a library partner helped me a lot, because I would never skip my library slot.

When the Corona numbers increased again in October, I was afraid of the upcoming consequences like getting sick, being quarantined or schools closing again, so I handed in my master thesis three weeks before the actual deadline. While I am writing this, schools have been closed again since the middle of December and nobody knows for how long. It seems that I was able to efficiently take advantage of open schools between each lockdown. I think in order to reach your goals, it is key not to give up! To sum it up, reaching my goals sounds quite easy:

  • Divide big tasks into small ones.
  • Block enough time slots and define your best workplace, e.g. in the library.
  • Support each other by keeping in touch with fellow students.
  • Do a little every day and proceed constantly, without excuses.
  • Don’t give up. You’re always one step closer to the finish line.

Trust is important. In human and AI relationships.

Manuel Bierwirth on his journey to his Pharma MBA and what working in his project team has shown him.

I will never forget the orientation day at Goethe Business School at the end of 2018: A colorful hustle and bustle of people from all different backgrounds, all curious, open-minded and ready to start a new chapter in their life. We were provided with a welcome package and there were introductory and inspiring speeches, followed by a team building activity that I had never experienced in this form before. Playfully and in a very short time we got a feeling about the interests and potentials of the others and quickly a learning group was found, which developed further over the course of the program, was challenged, has shown strength and still exists today. Beyond these learning groups, friendships and a network have developed.

I started my professional career as a software developer. This role gave me a very good background of the software programs and applications, from which I still profit today. After some years of software development, I switched to the area of Project Management. I changed to the level of an IT-Manager, working with an offshore-based support team reporting to me. I also worked for about one year in the United States and in countries in Latin America. After collecting great experience in finance and controlling projects, I was given the opportunity to start working in projects related to Healthcare Business in 2016. Healthcare-related meant business intelligence projects with a focus on pharma market data and products.

I noticed, though, that something was still missing. I had been toying with the idea of starting a further education program for quite some time, but I didn't yet know in which direction it should go. I realized that a mixture of management skills and business processes as further development was the right choice for me. At this point, coincidence played a role when I learned that Merck, as a partner of the House of Pharma & Healthcare and with that also GBS, was supporting an MBA program that was a great fit for my needs.

It was exactly this mix that I was very interested in and I was not disappointed. Because of the enriching curriculum of the Pharma MBA program, I can now understand my colleagues and customers in a different and better way as well as engage more constructively in meetings on both a project and management level. I have gained a much better understanding of marketing and sales, the overall pharmaceutical value chain and a better idea of the purpose of data and business intelligence systems that we prepare and develop on the IT side.

In addition to the general and pharma business related modules of the program, we also had the chance to expand our network during events like the Friday Talks, where prominent guest speakers from various backgrounds talk and discuss about current topics affecting the pharma industry. Another industry exchange example during my studies was having the pleasure of organizing an on-site visit on the Merck campus. This way, my cohort learned more about Merck, products and the Innovation Center, followed by running one of the Marketing and Sales module days onsite. It became a successful experience with great feedback.

The program concluded with the scientific completion of a master’s thesis. I deliberately chose a topic that contained both theoretical and practical elements and had to do with a current challenge facing the company. I also wanted to learn about other people and roles, their views and concerns. I picked a human-centric topic "Trust between Artificial Intelligence and Human Being in the Pharmaceutical Business Context of Field Force and AI-supported Solutions". In the future, Merck Pharma Sales Managers and the Pharma Field Force will be supported in their planning and execution by artificial intelligence. During the time on our project, my teammates and I recognized the importance of trusting the human colleague as much as the potential ‘AI colleague’ in order to gain from a fruitful collaboration. Without trust and a Shared Mental Model, an understanding of the possibilities and limitations, there will be no collaboration with and less adoption of AI in the long run. I was able to develop a model of which factors are most important for trust building and how to build trust between humans and AI in projects.

Practical insights at the heart of teaching

What makes our master programs so innovative and special? One reason is the fact that GBS can draw on a vast pool of renowned experts that enables access to a wide range of topics. Managing Director at TechQuartier Dr. Sebastian Schäfer is a great example for the interdisciplinarity and interconnectedness of the GBS network of experts. We asked Sebastian what he can take from his years of teaching in the GBS MBA programs into the newly offered Master in Finance course "Digitalization in Banking & Finance".

"The financial industry is in a state of digital disruption. Changing customer preferences, regulatory pressure, new technologies and business models are reshaping the rules of the banking industry. BigTechs and challenger banks are taking market share and forcing established financial institutions to rethink their customer relationships and revenue models. This is also leading to new cooperation models such as open banking and a dissolution of traditional industry boundaries.

Our previous courses have always aimed to underpin major trends, theoretical models and concepts with practical insights from the startup and digital scene. In the course "Digitalization in Banking & Finance" we will keep this tradition and dive into selected FinTech solutions to provide an authentic view behind the scenes."

Combining theory and practice by transferring this knowledge gained in class to current challenges in the areas of finance, digital transformation and pharma, is a key objective of GBS faculty members use to prepare part-time students for the next step in their career. Professionals also have the possibility to choose from a wide range of open programs and create their individual training portfolio along our main topics in order to either gain and up-skill their knowledge in certain areas or simply refreshen the knowledge they already have acquired. Take this chance and browse through our new Open and Auditing program!


If 2020 was the year of crisis, what is 2021 going to be like in the pharma industry?

If 2020 was the crisis year, 2021 is the year of transformation as the world resolves the COVID-19 infection crisis.

Now, pharmaceutical companies need to adapt to uncertainty of the post-pandemic world. To emerge from the pandemic and to continue their business effectively, they should build a transformation road map which addresses e.g. care gaps of patients, engagement with stakeholders, evidence development, and much more.

Join us for the upcoming Friday Talk "Emerging from the Pandemic - Priorities for Pharma in the ‘new normal’" with Dr. Frank Wartenberg from IQVIA Commercial GmbH & Co. OHG.

Dr. Frank Wartenberg has been President Central Europe since 2011 and IQVIA's representative in Germany since the merger of Quintiles and IMS HEALTH 2016. As part of his role he owns the full P&L responsibility for Germany and Austria. Prior to 2010, as VP and Practice Leader Commercial Effectiveness, he was responsible for IMS HEALTH's consulting business for sales and marketing in EMEA.

Register here and mark the date in your calendar: February 26, 2021 at 10.00 am!

Getting off to a good start: Preparatory Course for new Master in Finance students

Goethe Business School will host the annual 'Preparatory Course on Accounting, Mathematics and Statistics' for all incoming students of the Master in Finance Class of 2023 on Friday, March 12 and Saturday, March 13, 2021!

The aim of this course is to provide a quick overview of the main concepts of accounting, mathematics and statistics to facilitate access to the program and give a brief introduction of the methods used.

The preparatory course will be taught by the program’s Academic Director Prof. Dr. Uwe Walz and GBS faculty members Prof. Dr. Andrej Gill from the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz as well as Associate Prof. Dr. Steffen Juranek from the Norwegian School of Business.

Upon admittance to the Master in Finance program, students can reserve a seat by contacting the GBS Admissions Office via email: admissions[at]

Join our Virtual MBA Experience!

You are invited to our upcoming Virtual MBA Experience on April 13 at 6.00pm!

It is now easier than ever to get an overall picture of our Digital Transformation MBA program.
Meet our program representatives to get all the information you need and be sure not to miss the chance to sneak a peak to a lecture held by Dr. Karolien Notebaert on Digital Leadership. We will wrap up the evening with a student & alumni panel about what to expect when studying at GBS and their personal study experience.

Contact our Recruiting & Admissions Team via recruiting[at] for more information and the agenda.


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