When the first Friday in September approaches, everyone at GSB - the Gutenberg School of Business - knows what is coming: The next Executive MBA graduate class has successfully completed the course and the festive farewell is on its way. In this particular year, the graduates of the 20th Executive MBA anniversary class gathered on September 3 in their gowns and caps on the great stone staircase in front of the old canteen building of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) for their joint valedictory photo. The traditional tossing of the caps was also captured for the image, as 25 hats flew into a beautiful cloudless sky. Afterwards the participants celebrated their graduation. As the pandemic-related German 3G rule was still in force at the university, meaning only persons who had recovered, are vaccinated or tested are allowed in public spaces, diplomas had to be awarded in a rather modest setting by the official representatives of the Faculty of Law, Management and Economics and the GSB Mainz. The graduation ceremony was streamed live to a screen in a hall opposite so that relatives and friends of the graduates could be present in spirit if not in body.
After the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Management and Economics at JGU, Professor Euler, welcomed the graduates, Professor Andrej Gill congratulated the graduating class on behalf of the GSB on successfully acquiring their MBA degrees. For Gill, the 20th EMBA graduate class is particularly special because of the massive impact the coronavirus pandemic has had and the resulting determination needed by the group to cope with the situation - not only that but because it is the first class he has had the privilege of guiding from inception to graduation in his role as one of the academic directors. With that in mind, he told ‘his’ graduating class in parting “to always retain an inquiring mind on your journeys to discover new horizons, do not take things for granted, and constantly question everything anew.”
The ceremonial address was given by the patron elected by the 20th class, Dr. Falko Hagebölling, a member of the executive board of IVU Traffic Technologies AG. Back in February 2020, the participants had been very impressed by their fireside chat with Hagebölling, which is why they were all the more pleased that he accepted the opportunity to take on the role. In his speech he first congratulated ‘his’ graduate class on reaching this “significant milestone” and then shared his concept of what constitutes leadership with the audience: “Good leadership is not about self-aggrandizement, but about making one’s ego secondary to the goal and to the team. It’s about accepting that you are also a member of the team although you have a specific function. It may be you have a vitally important role, but yours is not the only vitally important role.” Hagebölling concluded by considering the question of whether to provide good leadership it is necessary to be a craftsman or be creative: “You don’t have to be a natural talent or be particularly inventive. What you have to do is master the tools of your trade, understand the principles and structures behind the related processes, practice these every day, employ them in a coordinated way and always be willing to continue to learn. [...] It is up to you graduates now to develop your own skills using the tools of the trade you have acquired and your academic background. Consider what you have learned as a treasure chest of experience from which you can draw that will help you develop, because you will face testing times ahead. Look at how these tools work for you and evolve your own personal leadership style. [...] Life in a leadership position offers tremendous potential for personal growth. But it also requires you to grow – never fall prey to the belief that those with an excellent leadership personality just pop up out of nowhere. You will find that there are few things more rewarding than having led a team to success and knowing that it was no accident.”
After a few words of greeting and the ceremonial address, diplomas were jointly presented to the graduates by Professor Euler, the two GSB academic directors and the class patron Herr Hagebölling.
The academic segment was capped off with some reminiscences of the class outlined by Katharina Heinz, Matthias Durner and Adwitiya Mittal on behalf of the graduates.
After the official program of the farewell ceremony, GSB invited the graduates and their families, friends and acquaintances to a champagne reception out of doors. Musical accompaniment at the reception was provided by Steven McGowan who performed several acoustic guitar classics.