Andresen Endows Professorship
Merton Named University Professor
Class of 1949 Gift
New Leadership for External Relations
New MBA Loan Program
Andresen Becomes First European and First Exec. Ed. Graduate to Endow HBS Professorship
I want to show my support for an institution that has made and will continue to make a valuable contribution to management practice all over the world," says Andreas Andresen (69th AMP), a retired German industrialist who recently became the first European and the first Executive Education alumnus to endow a professorship at HBS. "Harvard Business School has been very important in my life," he continues. "My experience there was the realization of a lifelong dream. I am delighted to be able to make a gesture that underscores the School's relevance to those of us who were not born in the United States but have nonetheless benefited greatly from an education at this eminent worldwide business school."
Initiated last year to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Marshall Plan (announced at Harvard in 1947), the Andreas Andresen Professorship of Business Administration is also intended "to give a little back to America" in appreciation for the United States' support in rebuilding postwar Europe, Andresen notes. In announcing the new professorship, HBS Dean Kim B. Clark stated, "The timing of this gift couldn't be better. Not only does it accomplish Andreas's goal of commemorating an important bond between the United States and Europe, but it comes at a juncture when the School's involvement in global management education is growing. We are deeply grateful to Andreas and his wife, Mirjana, for their generosity."
Andreas Andresen was born in Flensburg, in northern Germany, in 1934. His mother died when he was four, after giving birth to his brother, and his father was killed by the Nazis as an active underground opponent at the end of World War II. Raised by his stepmother, Andresen served as an apprentice and later attended a university in Dźsseldorf, where he studied business administration and sociology. A four-and-a-half-year battle with tuberculosis cut short his formal university training, however, and required Andresen to be hospitalized for over two years.
Still not completely recovered, in 1963 Andresen was accepted in a professional management training program at the NestlŽ Group in Germany, where he showed a particular talent for marketing and product management. His skills attracted the attention of the management at Pfizer-Germany, who hired him in 1966 as senior brand manager. A promotion to marketing manager for Pfizer-Germany followed in 1968. "I was disappointed not to be able to finish my degree at the university," reflects Andresen, "but my education and experiences at NestlŽ and Pfizer gave me the inspiration and background to be able to set up and run any kind of brand-name business."
Then in his mid-thirties, Andresen decided to leave big business in 1970 to pursue an entrepreneurial opportunity with SABO, a small manufacturer of lawn-mower machinery with a market value of some 6 million deutsche marks. "I was particularly interested in SABO because of its emphasis on best product quality," Andresen explains. "With my marketing skills, I felt the company could become the Ôshark' that ate all its smaller competitors in the saturated European lawn-mower market."
Andresen says that he "thoroughly enjoyed" his role as general manager at SABO. "The challenges were significant, but when you are running a company, even your hardest days don't seem as long as they would if you were working for someone else." He especially relished his relationship with SABO's employees, and during his regime the company was one of only a handful of nonunionized manufacturers in Germany (the company would unionize within a year after Andresen's 1986 departure).
Andresen took time out to attend Harvard's Advanced Management Program in 1974 in order "to test my standards of management," he says. "I had been working nonstop for over five years and felt the need to take stock of the latest management trends." The first few weeks of the program tested Andresen's English skills. "I was often up until 3:00 in the morning, struggling with the dictionary to prepare cases," he recalls. "My canmates' support motivated me to stay, and that was the beginning of many lifelong friendships."
As his facility with English improved, Andresen was able to keep up with his classmates and even to challenge his professors. "Hugo Uyterhoeven was my favorite teacher because he was so tough," Andresen notes with a smile, adding, "and I believe I was his toughest pupil." Uyterhoeven agrees: "It was a long time ago, but I still remember him as one of those students whose perspectives could take a case discussion to the next level. Andreas was fascinated with management theories and brought a great deal of enthusiasm to the classroom."
After completing the AMP, Andresen faced the decision of whether to return to SABO or go back to a career with a large company. Fortunately for SABO, in 1975 he accepted the company owner's offer to make him a major shareholder if he returned. Over the next decade, Andresen's leadership transformed the company. By 1987, SABO had grown to a 200-million deutsche mark, internationally operating company with plants in Germany, Holland, and South Africa, "all with very little bank debt," according to Andresen. Its work force expanded from 70 to over 600, and the company enjoyed the highest productivity rate among machinery businesses in western Germany.
During this time, Andresen was also active in promoting management education in Germany. He was instrumental in founding the University of Koblenz/Vallendar for Executive Management - the first such private institution in Germany - and coauthored various business texts, including Marketing und Verkaufsleiter Handbuch (1971) and Management Enzyklopaedie (1970). In a 1988 interview in Manager magazine, Andresen said that his business philosophy was based on "diligence, toughness, and honesty" toward himself and others. "You have to have the ability to constantly criticize and evaluate yourself," he advised young managers. "Obsession and total identification with your job and the company are other important factors. Besides creative talents and the gift of logical thinking, you also need the best and most competent professional training in the world."
Also in the article, Andresen - sharing a lesson he had learned the hard way - emphasized the importance of respect and personal affection for one's business colleagues. In 1986, his trust in his own business partner was violated in an incident involving the sale of SABO stock without his knowledge or approval. Mindful of the key role that respect plays in running a successful business, Andresen subsequently left the company, which at the time was one of the ten highest-ranked German firms in the field of industry, trade, transport, and roster excellence.
Among the many tributes to Andresen on his departure from SABO was a letter from Frederick Prescott Stratton, Jr., CEO of Briggs & Stratton Corporation. "As the leader in your industry," wrote Stratton, "the way in which you have developed your company has been a lesson to many of us, and this has illustrated the point that leadership is the key ingredient to the success of any company. You have certainly provided that for SABO."
Since leaving the company, Andresen and his wife, a physician from Yugoslavia, have enjoyed traveling, sailing, studying art history, and keeping in touch with Harvard friends. Reflecting on the professorship that bears his name, Andresen concludes, "My heart beats for America, but I also feel that Harvard is an international institution. I hope that others from outside the United States will be inspired by this gift to lend their own support to the School."RETURN TO THE TOP OF THE PAGE