Every year for the past ten years, the students of the WHU, Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar/Koblenz, Germany, have held their own New Year's Conference on finance. Putting internationally renowned speakers from the worlds of politics, academia and industry together with exceptional graduate and undergraduate students, the conference invites a thought provoking environment in which creative minds can interact and exchange concepts regarding finance in today's global arena. For two full days, participants listen and learn, while engaging in friendly dialogue and debate about the issues most important to them all. The students work to prepare the conference in conjunction with Prof. Dr. Markus Rudolf, the Dresdner Bank Chair of Finance. Their goals include creating an atmosphere in which participants can discuss challenging issues, win insight into urgent topics in the realms of finance, and establish new contacts in the world of finance.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the conference; and on January 14 and 15, it will be held under the title Finance 2020 Perspectives on Tomorrow's Markets. The conference is held entirely in English, and all papers presented will be in English. The list of the event's sponsors holds some of the best known names in the world of finance, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, The Boston Consulting Group, Rothschild and more. It will be held on the school's picturesque campus, on the banks of the famous Rhine River. The school is under an hour away from Cologne and Frankfurt and only a few miles from the historic old town of Koblenz. Participants will be wined and dined in style, and provided with first rate accommodations in a nearby hotel. For students, it's an opportunity to mix with heavy hitters who have risen to the very top of their fields. For executives and academics, it's a chance to share ideas with international colleagues and to be ignited by youthful passion.
The participants in this year's conference have the exceptional good fortune of being joined by no less than three Nobel Laureates, the first of which is Prof. Robert J. Aumann of the Center for Rationality, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. Born in Germany in 1930, Prof. Aumann fled with his family at the onset of the Holocaust and was raised in New York, where he attended Jewish day schools and received his undergraduate degree from New York's City College and his doctorate in mathematics from Boston's MIT. The following year he moved to Israel to join Hebrew University's math department, and he has been there until today, over 50 years later. Twenty years ago he co-founded the university's Center for Rationality. The center performs research using the concepts of Game Theory, and its members hail from every nearly discipline within the university. Prof. Aumann has written six books and scores of papers, and has served as visiting lecturer at some of the America's top schools, including Princeton, Yale and Stanford. Of the numerous prizes and honorary doctorates he has received, the most outstanding is the 2005 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.
The second Nobel Laureate attending the conference is world renowned Prof. John F. Nash, Jr. Prof. Nash was born in West Virginia in the United States, the son of a teacher and an electrical engineer. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, PA, following which he enrolled for his doctorate studies at Princeton University. There he wrote a dissertation entitled Non-cooperative Games inside which he published a theorem that became known under his name as the Nash Equilibrium theorem. He later worked at Princeton as a teacher, and at MIT as a science assistant. While illness prevented him from further publication, he has remained an avid mathematician and researcher. In 1994 he was co-recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his work on game theory.
The third Nobel Laureate is Prof. Reinhard Selten, who was actually a co-recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1994 alongside Prof. John F. Nash. Born in Breslau, which is now a part of Poland but which was in Germany at the time, Prof. Selten received his master's and doctorate degees in mathematics from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt. He went on to build an enviable academic career, lecturing as a professor in universities throughout Germany and co-founding the International Academy of Sciences in San Marino. He became internationally known for his work on game theory and his research into bounded rationality, and is known today as one of the founders of experimental economics. In addition to his academic work he is on several editorial boards and is part of the lobbying efforts to introduce Esperanto as the official language of the European Union.
One of the conference's esteemed corporate participants, Dirk R. Notheis is the CEO of Morgan Stanley Bank AG, and the head of operations in Germany and Austria. Dirk Notheis was a student at the University of Mannheim as well as at the University of Stuttgart, combining the study of philosophy with that of political science and business administration, earning a doctorate in business administration and a Diplom-Kaufmann degree. Following university, Dirk Notheis began working in the field of banking by signing on with SGZ Bank. Five years later he moved to Morgan Stanley, where he has remained ever since, climbing the ladder from head of various industries and the public sector, to ultimately serve in the bank's highest position.
Dame Clara Furse DBE, who once held the position of Chief Executive of London's Stock Exchange, is another valued guest at the conference. Dame Furse was raised on several continents before finding her way back to England, where she received her bachelor's degree in economics at the London School of Economics. Following school she became a broker at the firm of Phillips and Drew, now known as UBS, rising to become first company director, then executive director, managing director and ultimately the Global Head of Futures. Two years later she left to become Group Chief Executive of Credit Lyonnais Rouse. Three years later she was appointed the stock exchange's chief executive, a role she performed for the next 8 years. In 2008, she was named a Dame Commander of the British Commander for the important role she had played in the British Empire's Financial Services industry.
Adding to the list of participants who hold the title of CEO in their companies, Karl-Georg Altenburg joins the roster. A wunderkind who in his mid-40s has achieved the inestimable honor of being named CEO of JP Morgan in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as the region's senior country officer, Alternburg has also worked for Salomon Brothers investment banking firm and Arthur Dl Little, as well as at Inquam Ltd, where he served as CFO after cofounding the company. Highly educated, Altenburg has a doctorate in engineering and another in technical science. His love of the art world is expressed through his role as Curator of a museum in Berlin and member of one of Frankfurt's most famous museums.
Alexander Dibelius joins the conference bringing with him a vast amount of experience not only in the world of investment banking but in the field of medicine. Studying to become a doctor, Dibelius received an MD and a PhD from the University of Munich back in the 80s. He chose to enter surgery, and became first a surgical intern and ultimately a practicing surgeon at Freiburg, Germany's university hospital. Switching gears, Dibelius joined McKinsey & Co.as a partner, then moved to Goldman Sachs in 1993 first as an associate, but making vice president that very same year. Working his way up to managing director, Dibelius was named partner in 1998 and today serves as head of the company's investment banking, with the additional responsibility of overseeing business throughout Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Germany and Austria. Known for his widespread expertise, he has been solicited to serve in a supervisory capacity for a number of portfolio companies in Germany, and the German Banking Association has made him a member of their credit committee.
From the world of real estate comes Prof. Axel Wieandt, the Hypo Real Estate Group's CEO and chairman of the board. Prof. Wieandt is returning to his roots in his attendance of the conference, in that he received both his master's and his doctorate from WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management. He followed these two degrees with a master of management from the Kellogg School of Management in Illinois, USA, and he has since parlayed all three into a highly successful career. After working as a consultant for McKinsey & Company, both in their US and Germany offices, Prof. Wieandt served for one year at Morgan Stanley in London and then at Deutsche Bank Group in Frankfurt as the Global Head of Corporate Strategy. There he rose in the ranks to ultimately become the Group's Global Head of Corporate Development and Global Head of Corporate Investments. In addition to his corporate responsibilities, Prof. Wieandt returned five years ago to his alma mater to lecture the next generation of business students. In 2009 he left Deutsche Bank to become CEO of Hypo Real Estate Holding.