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New Programme Director promotes future skills

Dr. Sarah Desirée Schäfer, BSc., BA has taken over the programme management in Business Administration at IMC Krems.

(c)Skokanitsch Fotografie; Dr. Sarah Desirée Schäfer, BSc., BA has taken over the programme management in Business Administration at IMC Krems.

The young expert in economics, psychology and corporate social responsibility brings with her all the prerequisites for an international, interdisciplinary and innovative programme management and infects students and colleagues with her enthusiasm.

Economics and psychology

Crossing disciplinary and national borders characterises Sarah Desirée Schäfer’s educational biography: she studied business administration with a focus on commerce in Stuttgart and London while working at the same time. Then she moved to Klagenfurt to study psychology and applied business administration and finally to do her doctorate in the field of “Health and Sustainability Communication and Management (HSCM)”. “People are very important to me,” Schäfer explains the connection between the two subjects. “A company needs employees who love what they do. Without qualified and motivated staff, there can be no economic success. We see this, among other things, in the current situation on the labour market, which is referred to in professional circles as the ‘war for talents’.” This brought her to the topic of “business ethics” and the concentration on ethical leadership. “However, in my opinion, this does not go far enough. It is much more effective if a company’s commitment to making sustainable decisions and pursuing strategies that are in line with the values and goals of our society is established at the very top of the company’s strategy.”

A perfect place to live and work

Schäfer has worked in various positions and industries, for example in a staff position for communication, as a COVID crisis manager, a consultant, a marketing and sales employee and, typically, as a university assistant during her doctorate. “Each position was valuable for my professional development and showed me how much I enjoy the combination of teaching, practice and science, that I like to share my experience with young people and at the same time set impulses,” says Schäfer.
Schäfer emphasises that she “loves the combination of teaching, practice and science”. Therefore, when she read the IMC Krems advertisement, she knew: “This is a perfect fit for me.” The opportunity to shape things, to provide young people with an inspiring environment in which they can develop their own ideas, and to pass on her own experience and cutting-edge knowledge resulted in a perfect job description for her. The new programme director is happy to explain why she chose IMC Krems: “IMC Krems has an excellent reputation beyond national borders with regard to its ‘innovative’ orientation, an international mindset including associated networks, and a spirit characterised by the assumption of social and ecological responsibility – in short, a perfect match.” In addition, Krems is a good place to live: “I think everyone likes to live where others go on holiday,” Schäfer says with a laugh.

Future skills, start-ups, internationality

In addition to a general business education to keep the big picture in mind and to successfully explore opportunities and risks, Schäfer focuses on several aspects that are important to her. She uses the buzzword “future skills”, by which she means “knowledge of new IT technologies and digital trends that are crucial for success, but also future-relevant competences such as critical thinking and networked thinking in order to combine marketing concepts with financing models, theories of monetary policy, i.e., macroeconomics, risk management and sustainability in a target-oriented way”. She also values start-up know-how. “From the idea to the business plan to the management: it’s a matter of getting to know a structured start-up process in order to implement initial start-up ideas with support from the Founders Lab.” International experience, for example in exchange semesters, internships, international projects and from international guest lecturers, is on the agenda, as is business English, “as language is a vehicle for conveying ideas”.

Schäfer also wants to set current accents in research. She travelled a lot with her family before the COVID pandemic and “had to realise – often shocked and deeply affected – that education, clean drinking water, fair wages and fair working conditions, an intact waste disposal system, mobility and many other aspects that are commonplace for us are not a matter of course in all countries of the world”. Therefore, she would like to contribute to the topic of assuming corporate responsibility and sustainability with her research.

Heart and soul and commitment

Schäfer has already proven in the past that she is an excellent fit for the IMC Krems team and fully supports the vision and values of the university of applied sciences. “Great projects and research are carried out at IMC Krems, and I would like to take this commitment into the ‘lecture hall’ and out into society,” the programme director confirms the impression. “I see project work and research as a tool to show students that we can control and influence the future. Each and every one of us can change things positively with our thoughts, actions and deeds, optimise them and, in the best case, make a business model out of them. My goal for students is to not only successfully obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management after six semesters, but also to be fit for the future.”

In Krems and the surrounding area, Schäfer will be found more often pursuing her leisure time passions in the future: on a mountain tour, skiing, running or gravel biking. She also likes to spend her time reading current journal articles, attending conferences, or in her scientific community.