Interview with Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Fröhlich – President of Cologne Business School

Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Fröhlich is the president of the CBS Cologne Business School and a professor for supply chain management.

In this interview, Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Fröhlich describes how CBS is working to become a leader in the realm of sustainable education and research. Furthermore, she explains why the CBS was chosen as one of the two venues for the 5th Responsible Management Education Research Conference as well as the 8th International Conference on Sustainability and Responsibility.

1) Why will CBS be hosting the 5thResponsible Management Education Research Conference as well as the 8thInternational Conference on Sustainability and Responsibility?

The CBS has proven in recent years, under the guidance of my colleague Prof. Dr. René Schmidpeter, the co-director of the Center for Advanced Sustainable Management (CASM) here at CBS, that we are leaders when it comes to sustainable education and research. We are one of the few universities that have implemented and accredited a so-called integrated sustainability curriculum. Our vision for 2017, which was adopted last year, declares that employability and lifelong learning are a top priority for CBS.

We develop competent and responsible decision-makers who take their roles in society very seriously and work to find innovative solutions to the economic problems of our time. CBS can be considered to be a pioneer in the development of new methods for management education, which is why we are proud to announce that we will be hosting the 5thResponsible Management Education Research Conference as well as the 8thInternational Conference on Sustainability and Responsibility.

2) What do you promise guests that visit the conference?

I can promise our guests that they will meet “like-minded people” and that together we will work to develop innovative approaches for sustainable management to ensure that we can find answers to the most important questions of our time. During the conferences, no topic and no region will be neglected – for me personally, this global exchange is incredibly important and future-oriented.

With CASM, we have created a national platform where this exchange can take place to further innovation and change. The conference should also serve to help develop new ideas for study and teaching programs. PRME focuses very intensively on the question of how we can successfully implement sustainability in teaching and how we can “prove” this success. Our guests will hear from some of the best practice examples and can take inspiration to develop management education approaches.

It is also very important to me that we encourage companies to invest more into their employees as well as their management team. Especially when we think about CSR in the context of digitalization, companies will also face the challenge of how to make their top management level “fit” for this change.

My personal highlight of this conference is to discuss our ideas and visions with top-class, international experts from business, science, society and politics.

3) What do you personally look forward to the most? 

For me personally, the biggest challenge in the context of CSR is the intercultural component. I’ve participated in several international CSR conferences myself and learned a lot from the lectures and panels. Especially in my field of research “sustainable management of global supply chains” the intercultural dimension plays a crucial role. As a German company, I cannot just enforce my own understanding of sustainability on the supplier. I have to understand sustainability first and then I can work together with my supplier to find approaches on how to best enforce sustainability standards.

To realize and to discuss the necessary transparency in the global supply chain, such as new technologies and blockchain developments, can help to overcome these challenges. I am very excited about these opportunities and I hope to take one step further in the right direction here.

I am looking forward to engaging in discussions with our international experts from on the issues that challenge our current business models – and I am convinced that CBS is making an important contribution to this discussion.