Friday, January 18, 2008

WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management: Campus for Finance: Valendar, Germany

We were welcomed by Sebastian Pollok. A very young looking university staffer, ...I thought. He wore a red badge reading the words 'core team'. I was advised a few weeks ago by other Wall Street Journal Europe employees to check out the Campus for Finance conference at the WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany.
Topic of this year's 2 day conference (8th edition already): "New Horizons for Financial Markets - Investing in a Changing World". I quickly learned that the organization of the conference was completely in hands of students. Key note speaker this year: Dr. Josef Ackermann, CEO Deutsche Bank. Our contact person, Mr.-Core-Team-Sebastian-Pollok, turned out to be student, responsible for the press.

I organized some events in my time as a student, but nothing compared to this event. My admiration for the organizing student team at WHU grew whole day long.
Some small facts:

  • They booked my hotel. When I arrived after midnight, I ended up in a beautiful castle overlooking the Rhein under my window.

  • 2.000 students from 83 countries from approx. 600 universities applied for a ticket to the event.

  • only 160 students were selected. As such the event is not that big, 250 participants top (of which 160 selected students)

  • all attending students had to pay 70 Euro entrance fee upfront

  • at the event, all students - except those living in a 30 km circle around the WHU school- were reimbursed a significant part of their transportation costs, all food and all boarding

  • 2 days about financing with top level speakers

  • impeccable organization ('core team' -red / last year students- and 'team' - green/3rd year- students)

  • whole day long free cold buffet and drinks

  • Audi limousine service to escort all guest speakers to trains, hotels and airports ... manned by students

  • complete video captation unit ... manned by students

  • when I checked out and wanted to pay, hotel-reception told me WHU conference had already paid

Only one conclusion: the students must have raised a enormous amount of money to organize this event. It is a pity that the key note speaker, the CEO of Deutsche Bank, informed them Thursday night he would not come. I heard some very unhappy comments about this amongst the organizing and attending students.

I am sure that we will be seeing some of the students of this year's 'core team' as CEO's or well known politicians in Germany in about 20 years.

(Pictures: Top Left: arrival at Schloss Engers.
Top Right: my room under the roof, no television !
Bottom Left: seminar picture at WHU venue.
Bottom Right: Prof. Michael Brennan (Oxford, Pittsburgh, MIT):
look at the formulas on the screen,
I had not a clue what he was talking about)