The story of the World Business Dialogue has begun many years ago. In 1987 the University of Cologne turned into a convention center when the 1st Deutscher Wirtschaftskongress (= German Business Convention), the predecessor of the World Business Dialogue took place. The topic “Space as a market” proved the founders aim of pioneering a future thinking.
In the beginning the convention took place every second year and the principal language was German. A few years later, in 1997 the 6th German Business Convention had the first English topic: “Return on Globalization”. Four years later the main language turned completely into English and the World Business Dialogue was born. Since 2009 the convention is hosted every year.


19th World Business Dialogue 2016

14.03 - 18.03.2016

The 19th World Business Dialogue took place from 14th to 18th March 2016 and dealt with the main topic „Globalisation: Disrupted?“. Motto and motivation of the individual formats were „Inspire. Enable. Act.“
A pilot project of the 19th World Business Dialogue were the Dialogue Creation Labs which were encouraged by Bayer and the WiSo-Faculty. Three teams worked independently from each other on finding a solution for a problem given by a company. The winning teams received VR One Virtual Reality glasses.


Hannes Apitzsch

CEO Global Services, Siemens AG

As Siemens' Chief Executive for global services, Hannes Apitzsch is in charge of the entire supply chain and the implementation of information technology in one of world's largest engineering companies worldwide.

Ingrid-Helen Arnold


Ingrid-Helen Arnold is a member of the SAP Global Managing Board and is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Process Officer (CPO) for the SAP SE. She was appointed to the Global Managing Board in May 2014.

Gurnek Bains


Bains is a leading Business Psychologist and author.
Even though globalisation is considered to break down existing borders and barriers in an economic sense, cultural differences still manifest borders of a new kind. In his recent book “Cultural DNA: The Psychology of Globalization“ Gurnek Bains evaluates chances and risks of cultural differences in a globalised world from a psychological point of view.

Jagdish Bhagwati

Columbia University

Professor Bhagwati is a renowned international economist with a focus on the global flows of goods and an enthusiastic advocate of the benefits of globalisation processes for economy and societies. He wrote several books and publications on free trade and economic progress in developing countries that provide a good understanding on the history of globalisation.

Thomas Biedermann

TÜV Rheinland AG

Thomas Biedermann has been Member of the Executive Board of Management of TÜV Rheinland AG. From 1996 onwards, he held diverse management positions within TÜV Rheinland, most recently the post of Chief Regional Officer Western Europe with responsibility for the Western European business, which he started in 2006.

Oliver Burda

Santander Consumer Bank AG

Mr. Oliver Burda is Member of the Management Board & Deputy CEO of Santander Consumer Bank AG.
Beside his work at Santander, he is also judge at the labour court Cologne (as a Honorary-Office) and is dedicatedly working as a member of the Management Board in several federal associations.

Prof. Murali Chandrashekaran

Professor of Business Administration, University of British Columbia

Murali Chandrashekaran holds a chair in Business Administration at the Sauder Business School at the University of British Columbia, Canada. He aims at providing his students with not only professional knowledge but also intercultural competencies. With his enthusiastic and inspiring personality he broadens his students‘ minds‘ in both professional and human way. Convince yourself!

Susanne Chishti


Being one of the ´Power 50´ 2015 in the European Digital Financial Services, Mrs Chishti is one of the leading FINTECH experts around the world. With regard to new business models and ways of collaboration the FINTECH sector has a huge impact on the financial sector nowadays.

William Colton

Exxon Mobil

Mr. William (Bill) M. Colton is Vice President, Corporate Strategic Planning for Exxon Mobil Corporation. In this role, he oversees all of the corporation’s strategic planning activities and the development of its Energy Outlook, ExxonMobil’s assessment of global energy trends.

Liam Condon

Member of the Board of Management, President Crop Science, Bayer AG

Liam Condon has been a member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and head of the Crop Science Division. He is also responsible for the Animal Health Business Unit.

Francis Deprez

Detecon International GmbH

Francis Deprez has been CEO of Detecon International since
September 2011. Under his leadership, important strategic projects were developed, successfully positioning Telekom as a global market
leader for connected life and work.

Hans-Olaf Henkel


Hans-Olaf Henkel was president of the German Federation of Industries (BDI) and CEO of IBM Europe. He is a member of the European Parliament since May 2014, the Vice-Chair of the ITRE-Committee and the Vice-President of New Direction.

Florian Jansen


Florian Jansen started his first company at the age of 18, long before he went on to co-found Lamoda – a large scale Fashion E-Commerce company in Russia. As Managing Director, he is currently responsible for the operational business of Lamoda. We are excited to learn about the opportunities and challenges of innovative businesses in Russia.

Mari Kiviniemi

Deputy Secretary-General, OECD

Since August 2014, Mari Kiviniemi is Deputy Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). With the OECD she pursues the goal of establishing a platform for governments and extending the network of the 34 member countries in order to ensure the environmental implications of economic and social development are taken into account.

Dr. Eric Kuisch

Vodafone GmbH

Dr Eric Kuisch was appointed as Vodafone Germany’s Chief Technology Officer in October 2013.
Between 2009 and joining Vodafone he was General Manager Network Services at telecommunications service provider KPN, with responsibility for mobile and fixed line operations and development.

Peter Limbourg

Director-General, Deutsche Welle

Peter Limbourg is Director General of Germany's broadcaster Deutsche Welle and one of the most successful journalists in Germany. In several documentaries and interviews Deutsche Welle has already reported on globalisation and its influence.

Dr. Augusto Lopez-Carlos

Woirld Bank Group

Augusto Lopez-Claros is the Director of the Global indicators Group Department in the World Bank Group’s (WBG) Development Economics Vice Presidency. Prior to joining the WBG, he was Chief Economist and Director of the Global Competitiveness Program at the World Economic Forum in Geneva.

Dr. Christof Mascher

COO, Allianz SE

Dr. Christof Mascher has been the Chief Operating Officer of Allianz, one of the biggest global insurers, since 2009. In this position he overlooks the global alignment of businesses as well as Allianz’ digital agenda.

Michael Mertin

Jenoptik AG

President and CEO of JENOPTIK AG. Michael Mertin is the chairman or an active member of various economic committees and technology associations.

Dr. Reza Moussavian

Deutsche Telekom

Dr. Reza Moussavian is the head of Shareground, Deutsche Telekom's culture incubator. His project assignments encompass culture transformation of various units within Deutsche Telekom Group, introduction of new methods such as Design Thinking, simplicity and transformational leadership, but also greenfield launches of mobile telecommunications companies in Central and Eastern Europe.

Dr. Ulrich Mitzlaff

Zurich Life

In his current role as Chief Operating Officer of the German Life Business of Zurich he is responsible for Operations, IT and Inforce Management.

Barbaros Özbugutu


iyzico founder and CEO. Barbaros Ozbugutu has more than 10 years of experience in global companies which focus on payment systems and telecommunications.

Prof. Thomas Pogge

Yale University

Thomas Pogge is a philosopher and Director of the Global Justice Program. In his position as Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University, he examines the global political system from a non-economic perspective. Instead, he highlights how current political systems need to be transformed to effectively battle poverty and to preserve human rights around the world.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Franz Josef Radermacher

Club of Rome

Franz Josef Radermacher holds a faculty position for “Data Bases / Artificial Intelligence” at the University of Ulm and, at the same time, is the Director of FAW/n (Research Institute for Applied Knowledge Pro-cessing/n), Ulm (Germany). Member of the Club of Rome and of several national and international advisory boards.

Prof. Jörg Rocholl

ESMT Berlin

Prof. Jörg Rocholl, PhD, is president of ESMT European School of Management and Technology in Berlin and member of the economic advisory board of the German Federal Ministry of Finance. He is also the vice-chairman of the economic advisory board of Deutsche Welle and research professor at the Ifo Institute in Munich and Duisenberg fellow of the European Central Bank (ECB).

Linda Kaplan Thaler

Publicis New York

Linda Kaplan Thaler is responsible for some of America’s most famous advertising campaigns in the industry.
She served as Chairman of Publicis New York, a fully integrated advertising agency with digital, social and technology at its core.

Lars Thomsen

future matters AG

Lars Thomsen and his highly visionary theses may often provoke, but he depicts, like no other futurist in Europe, the opportunities
ahead of us. He consults many of Europe’s leading businesses, corporations and institutions regarding trends,
changes and the evolution of future markets.

Prof. Dr. Sven Voelpel

Jocabs university Bremen

Professor Dr. Sven Voelpel is Professor of Business Administration at the Jacobs University Bremen and Founding Director of the WISE demographic Network.

Bruno Wenn


Bruno Wenn has been Chairman of the Management Board of DEG – Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH since October 2009.

Bernd Wetekam

Accenture GmbH

As member of the Board of Trustees Bernd Wetekam knows World Business Dialogue quite well. As Partner of Accenture, Technology and Management Consulting he will contribute with his knowledge in business transformation and the development of information technologies.

Alice Wiegand

Wikimedia Foundation

When comparing different definitions of globalisation, the increase of information being available is mostly one of the key elements. Operator of Wikipedia is the Wikimedia Foundation which is situated in San Francisco and aims at providing access to educational content for everyone. Alice Wiegand is Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of Wikimedia Foundation and lives in Dusseldorf, Germany.


18th World Business Dialogue 2015

21.09 - 21.09.2017

The 18th World Business Dialogue dealt with the topic „Power to the „Power To The People – Redefining Interdependencies In A Trembling World“ – and took place from 8th to 13th March 2015. Speakers and students discussed various topics concerning power structures in different dimensions, such as employee and employer, politics and citizens or between companies.


Prof. Dr. Dr. Ayad Al-Ani

Prof. Dr. Dr. Ayad Al-Ani is a researcher at the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society and as the founder of the digital agency “tebble” is an advisor for digital transformation in business and politics. He writes regularly on these topics in Die Zeit, Handelsblatt and Huffington Post. He was an Executive Partner for Accenture and led the ESCP Europe Business School in Berlin as a rector.

Prof. Jan Balkenende

Professor Jan Peter Balkenende has been a partner at EY, focusing on corporate responsibility, international affairs and areas at the interface of the public and private sectors. He is chair of the Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition (“DSGC”). Since 2010, Jan Peter Balkenende has been Professor of Governance, Institutions and Internationalisation at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Chris Boos

Chris Boos is founder and CEO of arago. His responsibilities include strategy, product development and research. As author and algorithm designer he is broadly engaged in the high-tech and academic communities. Chris is also active in several boards and supports the European and US startup scene as contributor and angel investor.

Oliver Burda

Mr. Oliver Burda is Member of the Management Board & Deputy CEO of Santander Consumer Bank AG. He now is responsible for the departments Human Resources, Legal, Compliance, Cost Management & General Services, Organization and Public Policy.
Beside his work at Santander, he is also judge at the labour court Cologne (as a Honorary-Office) and is dedicatedly working as a member of the Management Board in several federal associations.

Jörn Fach

Jörn Fach has been working at Bayer for more than 30 years.
Fach states that Bayer wants talents who are able to fail and learn from their failures. Fingerpointing is not an option, everything is competence based, making it possible for younger talents to grow into decisionmaking authorities.

Dr. Detlef Fechtner

Detlef Fechtner has studied Political Science, Economics, History and European Studies in Frankfurt and Brussels. He worked as Financial Correspondent with the news wire vwd (today: Dow Jones Deutschland), as Editor with Frankfurter Rundschau and as Brussels Correspondent with 19 regional newspapers. Today, he is EU Correspondent with the German financial daily Börsen-Zeitung.

Michael Hanke

Michael Hanke is Head of the business department "Industry" at Detecon International GmbH.
As a member of the Executive Board he controls all consulting activities in the automotive, manufacturing, high-tech and pharma & healthcare sector.

Dr. Hans-Jürgen Heimsoeth

From 2008 until his nomination as Permanent Representative of Germany to the OECD, Ambassador Hans-Jürgen Heimsoeth was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in Kiev (Ukraine).

Juan Pablo García-Berdoy

Juan Pablo Garcia-Berdoy ist ein spanischer Diplomat und Anwalt. Zur Zeit ist er Botschafter von Spanien in Deutschland.

David Hilton

David Hilton is an Automotive Designer based in Europe with over 20 years’ experience. During the 90’s he worked for Ford and its other world Brands. From 2000-11, he founded and directed MotorCityEurope.com, boasting over 15 OEM clients worldwide. From 2011-13 he was hired as Head of Exterior Design by Bentley Motors.

Eveline Lemke

Eveline Lemke was appointed as the first woman minister of Economic Affairs in Rhineland-Palatinate back in 2011, and as the first Green Economic Affairs minister ever in a German regional state. Minister Lemke is an export merchant by profession.
Achieving the energy transition until 2030 is a major part of her responsibility as regional economic affairs and energy minister.

Bernhard Mattes

Bernhard Mattes is Vice President Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD), Ford of Europe. He is responsible for the total service, parts and customer service business of Ford in Europe.

Dr. Kai Pfeiffer

Kai Pfeiffer, born in 1976, studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Technology Darmstadt from 1996 till 2001. He finished his Diploma thesis on three dimensional measurement of vehicles based on laser scanners in December 2001. Since 2002 he joined the department robot systems at Fraunhofer IPA. His main research interests lies in the field of sensor systems and sensor applications. January 2004 till July 2006 he participated in an EU-project regarding the development of a cognitive robot companion (Cogniron). In 2004 he invented autonomous sensor probes for mobile security robots. From November 2004 till July 2006 he participated in the development of an experimental mobile inspection and manipulation robot. Since 2007 he is leading the group for service robots for commercial and industrial applications. He finished his PhD thesis “Autonomous Sensor Probes for Mobile Surveillance Robots and their Deployment Strategies” in January 2014.

Prof. Dr. Reinhard Quick

Reinhard Quick is Chairman of BUSINESSEUROPE FTA and WTO Working Groups. He is a member of the TTIP-Advisory Board of the European Commission.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Franz Josef Radermacher

holds a faculty position for “Data Bases / Artificial Intelligence” at the University of Ulm and, at the same time, is the Director of FAW/n (Research Institute for Applied Knowledge Pro-cessing/n), Ulm (Germany).

Member of the Club of Rome and of several national and international advisory boards as well as President of the Senat der Wirtschaft e.V. (Senate of the Economy), Bonn, President of the Global Economic Network (GEN), Vienna, and Vice President of the Ecosocial Forum Eu-rope, Vienna.

1997 Scientific Award of the German Society for Mathematics, Economics and Operations Research. 2005 Laureate of the Salzburg Award for Future Research, Salzburg, Austria. 2007 Laureate of „Vision Award 2007“ of Global Economic Network (for Global Marshall Plan Initia-tive). 2007 Laureate of Karl-Werner-Kieffer Award (Stiftung Ökologie und Landbau, SÖL). Member of the Rotarian Action Group for Population & Development (RFPD) - German Sec-tion - e.V. Member of the German National Committee of the UNESCO for the World Decade „Education for Sustainable Development“ (2005 – 2014). 2012 Laureate of the Umweltpreis „Goldener Baum“ der Stiftung für Ökologie und Demokratie e.V. 2013 Fellow to the World Academy of Art & Science (WAAS). 2013 Award of the degree of Doctor of Science (Honor-is causa) of the International Hellenic University, Thessaloniki.

Dr. Rainer Strack

Rainer Strack is a Senior Partner and Managing Director at the Düsseldorf office of The Boston Consulting Group. Since joining the firm in 1994, he has led a wide range of projects on strategy, controlling, restructuring, organization, and HR management. From 1996 to 1998, he was based at BCG's office in Boston under the auspices of the firm's Ambassador Program.
Rainer Strack is the global leader of the HR topic at BCG, he was the head of BCG's People & Organization practice in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa for more than 10 years, and he leads BCG's Social Impact practice in Germany. Mr. Strack has led many projects on HR strategy, HR controlling, talent management, performance management, strategic workforce planning, leadership development, demographic risk management, and HR organization for major international groups and banks.

Yannik Schreckenberger

Yannik Schreckenberger is a physicist, serial-entrepreneur and the founder of Heartbeat Medical, a Berlin and Cologne based startup.Their webbased hospital information system heartbeat ONE combines traditional treatment data with individual feedback from patients, offering the precise quality management needed in modern healthcare facilities.. As the lead organizer of Hacking Health Berlin he strives to improve healthcare by inviting technology creators and healthcare professionals to collaborate on realistic, human-centric solutions to front-line problems.

Dr. Julian Weber

Energy efficient, electric engines, autonomous driving and car sharing – mobility has changed drastically in recent years. Finding cheaper, more ecological and even more engaging ways of transportation remains the challenge of the automotive industry. From various car sharing services to new concepts of electric cars: the industry is testing the possibilities of future mobility.
Join Dr. Julian Weber, Head of Innovation Projects E-Mobility BMW Group, in a forward thinking talk: E-Mobility – it takes more than cars. He will give you a glimpse on the innovation work at BMW and give you a taste of what’s to come from BMW regarding E-Mobility in the future.

Marcus Würker

Marcus Würker is a Managing Director of Deutsche Post DHL Inhouse Consultancy GmbH, the management consultancy unit of Deutsche Post DHL. He’s in charge of the Practice Group Strategy & IT globally. In the past 13 years, he has had leading roles in a variety of projects, spanning Strategy, Finance, IT, Ground and Air Operations as well as Product Management. Prior to working in the Logistics Industry, Marcus Würker gained professional experience in Retail Banking and Investment Banking. He is married and has three children.


17th World Business Dialogue 2014

13.03 - 14.03.2014

The 17th World Business Dialogue took place on 13 and 14 March 2014. The discourse was about “Disruptive Innovation“ and dealt with the influence of disruptive innovations: Artificial intelligence, machine-to-machine communication and transhumanism.
Besides disruptive innovations, there was another innovation: The Dialogue Projects had their debut!
Three international teams, consisting of selected students, worked on projects for Bayer, Zurich and RheinEnergie and pitched their results in front of a big crowd.


  • Dr. Christian Bachem, .companion GbR, Partner
  • Arturo Baroncell, International Federation of Robotics, President
  • Dr. Michael Benz, Teradata GmbH, Senior Business Consultant
  • Dr. Ulrich Betz, Merck KGaA/Merck Serono GmbH, Director, Head of Global Department
  • Pieter van Boheemen, Waag Society, Life Science Technologist
  • Dr. Heribert Bohlen, axiogenesis AG, CEO
  • Michael Bültmann, Nokia Deutschland GmbH, CEO
  • Tim Cannon, Grindhouse Wetwear, ‘DIY-Cyborg’
  • Caroline Drucker, Etsy Inc., Country Manager Germany
  • Cosmin-Gabriel Ene, LaterPay GmbH, Founder and CEO
  • Dr. Hans-Jürgen Erbeldinger, partake AG, CEO
  • Pascal Finette, Google Giving, Google Inc., Principal
  • Alexander v. Franckenberg, High-Tech-Gründerfonds, CEO
  • Dr. Christian Garbe, FIZ Frankfurter Innovationszentrum Biotechnologie GmbH, CEO
  • Dr. Michael Gorriz, Daimler AG, CIO
  • Dr. Rüdiger Grube, Deutsche Bahn AG, CEO
  • Dr. Robert Gutsche, KPMG AG, Member of the Executive Board
  • Prof. Dr. Jürgen Handke, University of Marburg, Professor of English andComputational Linguistics
  • Dr. Johannes Helbig, Deutsche Post AG, CIO
  • Jan Heumüller, DataXu Inc., Vice President Sales EU
  • Dr. Wolfgang Heuring, Siemens AG, Head of Research and Technology Center
  • Achim Himmelreich, Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft (BVDW) e.V., Vice President
  • Andreas Hufenstuhl, Big Data Global SAP&ORACLE Delivery, Computer Science Corp
  • Oliver Hülse, Rocket Fuel GmbH, Managing Director
  • Eric Johanson, Intellectual Ventures Lab, Project Scientist and Entropy Generator
  • Dr. Jörg Liebe, Lufthansa Systems, CIO
  • Prof. Dr. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Oxford University, OII’s Professor of InternetGovernance and Regulation
  • Nils Müller, TrendOne GmbH, Founder and CEO
  • Dr. Peter Nagler, Evonik Industries AG, CIO
  • Drazen Nikolic, EY, Partner Advisory Services
  • Dr. Frank Piller, RWTH University Aachen, Professor and Head of Group, Technologyand Innovation Management
  • Ziad Sankar, CardioDiagnostics, Founder and CEOThomas Schröder, Microsoft Germany, Member of the Executive Board
  • Rolf Schumann, SAP Deutschland AG & Co.KG, Head of Database Technology Middle & Eastern Europe
  • Malte Spitz, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, Politician/Member of the Board
  • Prof. Dieter Sturma, German Reference Center for Ethics in Biosciences, Director
  • Lars Thomsen, future-matters AG, CEO and Chief Futurist
  • Christian Vagedes, “Vegane Gesellschaft Deutschland e.V.”, Chairman


16th World Business Dialogue 2013

13.03 - 14.03.2013

The 16th World Business Dialogue took place on 13 and 14 March 2013 and dealt with the topic „Next Generation Business Strategies – Finding New Ways to Succeed“. In contrast to former dialogues there wasn’t any specific principal theme but a combination of several themes: Human Factors, Big in Business, Happiness in a Modern World and Global Entrepreneurship.
Among the top speakers were Niek Jan van Damme, CEO of Telekom Germany at that time, Daniel Mahler, former Head of Americas at A.T. Kearney.
There was also an innovation concerning the speakers: Earl Ng, originally from the Philippines and enrolled as a student in Hong Kong at that time, took part in a main panel. He was the winner of an online contest in the run-up to the convention and therefore able to discuss the world of work of tomorrow with the German CEOs of Ferrero and Tchibo.


  • Valerie Bockstette, FSG, Managing Director
  • Dr. Markus Conrad, Tschibo, Chief Executive Officer
  • Andreas Dahlvig, HM, Boardmember and former CEO of Ikea
  • Prof. Dr. Lars P. Feld, Walter-Eucken-Institut, director
  • Jürgen Fitschen, Deutsche Bank, Member ofthe Executive Comitee
  • Heinrich Deichmann, DEICHMANN-SE, Head oft the Supervisory Board
  • Daniel Mahler, A.T. Kearney, Partner
  • Carlo Vassallo, Ferrero, Chief Executive Officer


15th World Business Dialogue 2012

14.03 - 15.03.2012

The 15th World Business Dialogue was set on March 14 and 15, 2012 at the University of Cologne. 300 students as well as top-class representatives from economy, politics and science came together to discuss the topic “Checkpoint Consumption” and the changes of the global market. Four main panels debated the following aspects of the changing global consumer behaviour:

Consumption 3.0 – Chances and Risks of the Online World
Consuming Energy – A Market in Transition
Inside Consumption – Who Determines What We Consume?
Global Consumption - Between a Smartphone and a Cup of Rice

Moreover, many executive sessions, workshops and an interactive session dealt with the topic consumption. Experts like Dr. Mirko Warschun, Fernando Burgos, Dr. Thomas Edelmann, Hubertus Meyer-Burckhardt, Rolf Buch and Hans-Otto Schrader were able to give further impulses becauses of their great know-how.


  • Ferdinando Becalli-Falco, General Electric Germany, CEO of Europe and North Asia
  • Kurt Bock, BASF SE, CEO
  • Rick Bowen, Alcoa Inc., President Head of Energy
  • Rolf Buch, arvato AG, CEO
  • Fernando Burgos, Telefonica Germany, Vice President New Business and Innovattion
  • Rüdiger Grube, Deutsche Bahn AG, CEO
  • Suhas Gopinath, Globals Inc., CEO
  • Gerhard Knies, DESERTEC Foundation, Co-founder
  • Hubertus Meyer-Burckhardt, POLYPHON Film- und Fernsehgesellschaft mbH, CEO
  • Kenneth P. Morse, MIT Enterpreneuership Center, Founder
  • Michael Schmidt, BP, Member of Executive Board Europe SE, Vice President HR Europe
  • Hans-Otto Schrader, Otto Group, CEO
  • Mirko Warschun, Kearney GmbH, Partner


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