On Wednesday evening, the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology at Sacred Heart University (SHU) Luxembourg held its first Corporate Award Ceremony at the Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg-Kirchberg.
The ceremony formed part of the College’s continued efforts to both recognise the local business community and celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of its MBA students as they complete the final stage of their academic career.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Alfred Steinherr, Academic Director, explained that the idea behind this event was to share this milestone with firms and partners that cooperated in the Capstone project, which concludes the MBA programme. He thanked the corporations for their support and for the confidence they have placed in the faculty and its students.
Next to speak was Marcus Müller, Professor of Management, who has directed the Capstone course and worked with students on project execution since 2013. Quoting US business executive Jack Welch (after whom the College is named), Mr Müller stated: “Control your own destiny or someone else will”. In this context, he cited digital disruption and the unprecedented speed of technological advancement as challenges to "how we live together and control our own destinies". Faced with these abrupt changes, he highlighted education as one answer to the question: how can we stay in control of our lives?
More specifically, Marcus Müller explained how the Jack Welch curriculum combines theory and practice to equip its students in these ever-evolving times. He emphasised how, since 2013, there have been seven rounds of Capstone courses which have produced a total of 45 business plans across various fields. These results have, according to Mr Müller, showcased SHU’s "successful integration of theory and practice and integration with the Luxembourg business community". His concluding comments that "real-life consultation needs real-life clients and real-life problems" paved the way for a speech from guests of honour, Luxinnovation, the longest-standing partner of the Capstone course.
In his speech, Johnny Brebels, Director of Company Relations and Support at Luxinnovation, explained the main mission of Luxinnovation, namely "to support companies in their innovation, develop themselves in a sustainable way and contribute to the economy in line with the government’s core strategies". In the context of the digital transformation, the circular economy and the data economy, among other changes, he discussed the emergence today of tomorrow’s leaders. He added that Jack Welch students play an important role in this context, describing the "essence" of this six-year collaboration as "build[ing] the leaders of tomorrow and put[ting] Luxinnovation's mission into practice". Mr Brebels concluded that this has been a "win-win" collaboration, for the students, Luxinnovation and the companies involved in the project, and that they should "continue to work together".
Marcus Müller proceeded to present the chosen companies, accompanied by the respective teams of students, with their awards.
Dashboard.lu: Co-founder Robert Krier accepted the award on behalf of dashboard.lu, a tool which, among other things, aims to present data in a readable format for managers. Mr Krier explained how the company's lack of focus on any specific sector contributed to the decision to collaborate with SHU students. Like Johnny Brebels from Luxinnovation, Robert Krier described the collaboration as a "win-win", with students learning how to conduct interviews and simultaneously finding valuable information for dashboard.lu which can be used to "shape the product in a different direction" or adapt the product to specific client needs. He emphasised that the students designed a business case and that the company is "looking forward to build[ing] on their work in 2020".
Lebenshilfe: Representing the German social organisation Lebenshilfe Nordsaarland Werkstätte gemeinnützige GmbH, Karsten Roloff, explained how SHU students created a business plan for a high-end jam product, which will "bear the label of social responsibility" and is set for the market from the beginning of 2021. Lebenshilfe import frozen food items to be packaged and sold to retail stores. The organisation is currently in talks with Cactus.
Proximus: Frank Rössig, Head of Digital Finance Solutions at Telindus-Proximus, explained how Proximus, already active in the Benelux, was looking for new markets and solutions and "wanted to learn from the students". Mr Rössig was impressed by the SHU students' independence and that they came to similar conclusions as the firm itseld. The plan is to to build on the project over the next year and continue this exchange, possibly with Proximus offering the students feedback in six months to one year.
Champ: Arnaud Lambert, CEO of the Luxembourg-based Champ Cargosystems, similarly described his company's constant search to improve the value of the air cargo industry, as well as to explore the value of and potential market for transporting horses using new technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT). SHU students analysed and confirmed the client base, value and potential market for flying horses with IoT patches (to monitor stress levels, etc). The first test flight is foreseen for 2021.
Lance: On behalf of Lance, Zoltan Horvath explained how the company wanted to see if they could make an idea into a reality. This idea centred around the creation of a dessert for people with diabetics, who are limited in the sweet foods they can consume. SHU students presented Lance with five very different approaches, although Mr Horvath stated that one stood out in particular, not least because of its simplicity: make no added sugar cakes available in every major transport hub and commercial centre in the world. Whilst he recognised the importance of diabetes as a social issue, Mr Holvath liked the fact that this idea "appeals to more than just diabetics", thanks to its lower caloric content and its organic nature. The next step was to make it economically feasible; students researched and created a business plan with several phases. Zoltan Horvath above all praised the students’ diligence, critical nature and creativity throughout the process - characteristics which "contributed enormously to the project". He concluded that the aim was for the product to be on the Luxembourg market by next Christmas.
Zenview: Co-founder Agnella Serafin presented Zenview's online marketplace, which has a special focus on the mental well-being of customers. The platform allows them to find and easily book a suitable provider. After branding, Zenview gave the product to a team of SHU students, who subsequently created an "all-inclusive package with a super sound business plan", as well as a market analysis. The analysis confirmed that the product could be launched in Luxembourg. Ms Serafin added that the diverse team of students had "provided everything [they] need to operate the product successfully or go to fundraising". She was particularly impressed that, despite their many different ideas and expertise, Team "Serenity" "always worked as one team". Zenview and the students will develop the product further, for example with the addition of new features, with the aim of successfully launching it in the next year.
Luxinnovation: Last but not least, Luxinnovation, this time represented by Anthony Auert, who is in charge of the Luxembourg Automobility Cluster, received their award. Mr Auert discussed how the Cluster especially works in the areas of automated mobility and the decarbonisation of transport. He cited hydrogen as a solution in this context, but added that there was a "need to convince stakeholders [...] to invest with a convincing argument, facts and data". For this purpose, a team of SHU students produced an 80-page report with "a very convincing argument and a detailed business case". He also commented that hydrogen cars could be a reality in Luxembourg within the next two years.
Marcus Müller concluded the awards ceremony by thanking both the companies and the students for their joint efforts. The ceremony was followed by a networking cocktail.