The reason Prof. Dr. Maud Helene Schmiedeknecht accepted a position at the ESB Business School at Reutlingen University was simple. “I choose ESB because it gave me the opportunity to work with talented young people at a top ranked business school in Germany,” she says. As an expert in corporate governance, corporate social responsibility (CSR), sustainability management, and social entrepreneurship, Maud also connected with the school’s mission to develop leaders who shape business practices and society responsibly. “CSR and sustainability management are urgent topics. It's so important that business school students, who will shape our future, develop skills and learn methods to (re)design sustainable business models and processes in order to tackle challenges like climate change,” she says.
In her classes, Maud’s students learn valuable insights from her years of professional experience in sustainability management. Professors at universities of applied sciences, like Reutlingen University, are required to have professional experience in addition to their academic credentials. Before joining the ESB faculty, Maud was a consultant at A.T. Kearney, an international management consulting firm specialized in business strategies. She was part of the sustainability core team and involved in running the German Sustainability Award. Prior to consulting, Maud was researcher at the Konstanz Institute for Intercultural Management, Values and Communication where she wrote her doctoral thesis and participated in international committees such as the ISO 26000 working group on social responsibility.
Her professional experience is also an asset to the ESB administration. “We have a system of academic self-organisation,” she explains. In addition to their teaching and research activities, most professors at public universities also hold administrative positions. Maud for example is currently the dean of the full-time international management MBA program and the examinations officer for a master’s program. “I can use my management skills to shape study programmes and processes here,” says Maud.
Professors at universities of applied sciences typically have higher teaching loads, but at ESB class sizes are small. Maud only has about 35 to 40 students in her undergraduate classes and 20 to 25 students in her master’s or MBA classes. “As a lecturer, it's really great because you have intense discussions. We get to interact with our students from day one and create an inspiring learning atmosphere where students apply their theoretical knowledge in practice,” she says.
In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Maud also conducts research into sustainable business practices. She’s currently looking at the interface between sustainability management and entrepreneurship and the development of strategies for sustainable business models. She is a spokesperson for the Managing Transformations in Organizations, Work & Society research group which looks at how knowledge-intensive organizations manage their transformations and work environments. She and her colleagues examine the social implications of these business transformations through the lens of ethics and sustainability. They also work with partners from science and industry to develop practice-oriented solutions. “This is something I really like about ESB. In our research group, we are eager to have an impact on academia and businesses,” explains Maud. The AACSB-accredited business school has partnerships with several companies including major multinationals and regional heavyweights. These partnerships are a valuable resource and give students and faculty members a direct link to the business world.
Maud gets a lot of satisfaction from being a professor, especially one at ESB Business School. “The variety of tasks from teaching to research to management is very appealing to me. At the same time, the job offers a lot of flexibility. In contrast to consulting with frequent multiday business trips, I’m now able to ride my bicycle to work which allows me to combine my professional life with my family life and two children. Overall there is a purpose behind what I do. I can support students to develop their skills and learn methods which allow them to have an impact on society and shape their and our future. That’s why I enjoy being at ESB.”
Maud is a full professor of corporate governance and corporate social responsibility at the ESB Business School at Reutlingen University. She previously worked as a consultant at A.T. Kearney, and earned her doctorate at the University of Oldenburg.