At the beginning, there were only a couple of empty desks and chairs on one single office floor in Hamburg’s HafenCity. “We professors had to get the computers and equipment together ourselves at first,” recalls Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Sönke Albers, who was Dean of Research at the private Kühne Logistics University (KLU) until 2016. “It felt like the very first year of a start-up.”
The “start-up university” with a view of the Elbphilharmonie has evolved from its establishment in 2010 to become an internationally renowned English-speaking university in the areas of transport, global logistics and supply chain management. In 2019, “Wirtschaftswoche” magazine rated KLU one of the best research universities for business administration in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. KLU was rated in the top twenty among 200 universities and second among private universities.
Experts confirm that the university’s first decade was a success: it currently has 400 full-time students and 24 professors from all over the world. The educational institution is characterised by excellent learning conditions, a high degree of specialisation and individually tailored seminars. “KLU is highly educated for a ten-year-old. Its knowledge is changing the logistics sector. HHLA benefits from it as well,” says Angela Titzrath, Chairwoman of HHLA’s Executive Board. The institution is funded by the non-profit Kühne Foundation, the sole shareholder of Kühne Logistics University GmbH.
HHLA is celebrating too: since April 2020, a “Leadership and Supply Chain Management” corporate MBA programme that is customised for the Hamburg port and logistics company has been offered at KLU. The programme was developed with a view to the particular strategic and cultural issues that will confront HHLA in the future: “As a leading European logistics company,” says Labour Director Torben Seebold, “HHLA faces many challenges such as automation, digitalisation, intercultural complexity and increasing competitive pressure. Therefore, we must expand the skills of our young senior executives and talents.”
To this end, the part-time, English-language MBA programme offers a 17-month curriculum that includes competence areas such as cultural change, digital transformation and sustainable added value. The first year combines self-study with extensive study material and twelve accompanying four-day block seminars with two one-week periods abroad in Shanghai, China, and the US state of Ohio. Students subsequently have five months to write their master’s thesis.
During the first year of HHLA’s corporate MBA programme – whose students consist of an equal number of six men and six women – the coronavirus pandemic turned a number of things upside down. The welcome event as well as the initial block seminars took place online.
Nonetheless, the experiences of the participants have been entirely positive up to now, and their personal goals remain high: Julia Metslov, for example, has been in charge of customer service for the Estonian HHLA subsidiary TK Estonia since 2019. Since she wants to be “a particularly good supervisor and improve work processes”, she finds the MBA programme’s “strong focus on modern leadership” especially expedient. Toni Jakat, Head of Sales at HCCR, says: “I would like to contribute to the acceleration of networked operations at HHLA – including at an international level – and the promotion of cultural change. The MBA programme offers a wonderful framework for this.”