The Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA Program offers one of the largest and most immersive global networks, with seven campuses and an ever-expanding alumni network of over 65,000 members around the world. Within that network are dedicated alumni who run local chapters, designed to bring together executives in their respective regions, host visiting alumni, and reinforce a sense of community that can last a lifetime.
“The Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA network has been very supportive,” says Wojciech. “I am in touch with someone almost every day, whether it is specific to my trade as a lawyer, discussing an investment fund idea, or exploring start-up concepts. As with most networks, the more you contribute to it, the more you benefit from it.”
Wojciech recently saw the impact of the network through a friend he met at the Kellogg Evanston-Chicago campus, who contacted him seeking his help. “I am engaged in the development and expansion of the benefit corporation (B Corp) movement in Europe. B Corps are for-profit companies with a social purpose. These are companies that have reached the highest standards in social and environmental impact, and embedded their commitment to stakeholders into their legal articles – I wrote my EMBA thesis on this. We had talked about the concept in detail during the elective classes in Evanston, so he got in touch regarding a colleague in Minneapolis. They were looking to formalize and expand a social hub for the city, which grew from his business during the recent crisis. He wanted to explore the B Corp concept further alongside stakeholders and the governing bodies of Minneapolis, to rebuild the city in a sustainable fashion following the protests. Before I knew it, I was advising them on the strategic aspects of becoming a B Corp and the possibility of rebuilding a city in line with the standards promoted by the B Corp movement, which is an opportunity I would probably not have had without the network.”
The Polish chapter.
Wojciech is the owner of a remarkably international and lengthy CV. Graduating from law school in both his home country Poland and again in the US, to passing the bar examination in New York, becoming a solicitor in the UK, and finally returning to Poland, culminating in almost 13 years of studying and practicing law. “Law is a lifelong journey – it never really ends in terms of studying as it is the kind of profession where you always need to be one step ahead to practice it like an art form as opposed to merely working as a lawyer,” he explains. “I found studying the Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA refreshing and a relief from the legal framework: I was engaging another part of my brain and activating new ways of thinking.”
Seeing that among the EMBA alumni chapters there was not one for Eastern Europe and that there were some issues with connecting and finding one another, Wojciech teamed up with fellow WHU graduate Marcus Erken to set up their own. “Initially, we thought that the chapter would be a great way for alumni to get in touch with others working in the region, for exchanging experiences, ideas, and to seek support among peers. Another factor of interest for alumni is that the economy here is developing very quickly – it is still a land of opportunity.”
Currently consisting of both WHU MBA and EMBA graduates, the chapter is relatively young, only launching at the end of 2019 with plans for bigger events and expansion in 2020. “Unfortunately, COVID-19 slowed us down a bit with inviting new members, but we hope to hold meetings, sporting events, and get-togethers soon.”
Exploring new ideas.
Before joining the Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA, Wojciech founded his law firm in Warsaw, working mainly on cross border projects involving clients from New York, London, Beijing, Tel Aviv, and Munich. The experience left him realizing that he needed more skills required to not only manage a new practice effectively but also to understand the needs of his clients more deeply. “I felt the program would give me the tools to speak the same language as my clients, but also foster my interest in entrepreneurship. I had some experience with start-ups both as a founder and advisor, so the program was the perfect way to combine the two interests.”
With its close proximity to Warsaw, the program suited Wojciech logistically while offering the international environment that he often sought throughout his career. “Diversity was important to me, as a major factor in choosing the Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA Program was the access to the global campuses, the modules abroad, and the network. Germany itself is renowned for its strong economy and excellent universities, so it made a lot of sense for me. I found the program truly exceeded my expectations in terms of content, knowledge, experiences, and the skillset I gained. However, I underestimated just how much the experience benefited me, from opportunities to new friendships.”
What is impressive about Wojciech is his keenness to learn and his quest for knowledge with a particular interest in helping others. He is not only an attorney, but also a founder, an angel investor, a legal advisor, and a B Lab Market Explorer for Poland working with global innovative NGO – B Lab, which is set to shift companies’ operations and the economic system overall towards a more sustainable and impact-driven, purpose-oriented model. “The Kellogg-WHU network helped me to grow in all of these areas and in today’s world where everything happens in such a fast and globalized manner, I think it is crucial to be part of such a network. I feel that the skillset I gained helped me efficiently manage people, time, and resources. This is extremely crucial if you wear many hats as I do. After the program, my life became much more interesting with all the new opportunities but also a little easier with all these new tools and the network.”