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The Viessmann Group-UW Oshkosh “Leadership Development Program” participants with Chancellor Richard Wells (left), Prof. B.S. Sridhar (right) and other University leaders and partners.

Two years and nearly 40 graduates into the international business “Leadership Development Program” he helped design, B.S. Sridhar considers it a “gratifying and unqualified success.”

On June 25, program participants earned certificates of completion for the Viessmann Group-University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Leadership Development Program after executive teams presented their final, “Smart Globalization: The Viessmann Challenge” projects to peers and UW Oshkosh academic and institutional leaders.

The College of Business designed and annually delivers the high quality development program “that can be an envy for any business school,” Sridhar said.

“Personally, it was very satisfying to be able to meld eighteen individuals from four countries (Germany, France, Poland and Turkey) into a cohesive group who, together, are embarking upon a journey of personal and professional development,” Sridhar said. “… Participants were enthusiastic and open minded throughout the four weeks, and it was a pleasure for presenters and facilitators to work with such a highly talented and motivated group of high-potential managers.”

The Viessmann Group partnership with UW Oshkosh began through its Wisconsin-based subsidiary BIOFerm Energy Systems. In 2011, UW Oshkosh completed construction of its dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester, which produces 8 percent of the energy used on campus. The first of its kind in the western hemisphere, the biodigester was one more demonstration of the institution’s commitment to sustainability. It also launched a prosperous, international, public-private partnership that is propelling cross-cultural academic programs and internship experiences.

The final Leadership Development Program presentations by the Viessmann Group students on June 25 put emergent company executives in the driver’s seat. In four teams, they examined how the company could grow business and serve new markets in impoverished, developing countries while honoring the triple-bottom-line balance between “people, planet and profit.”

One team proposed a new, roof-mounted Viessmann solar photovoltaic kit for small homes in South Africa – an energy system that, for an estimated $35, could power a cooling box for food and medicine while also charging a battery overnight. Another $65 investment by a South African homeowner earning approximately $1,000 to $1,500 a year would expand the solar kit to help route power to a cooking unit, preventing the use of dangerous open fires in homes.

That and three other June 25 presentations led to a certificate-presentation program with Chancellor Richard Wells. The day concluded four weeks of business-focused classes at UW Oshkosh and off-campus, involving experiences in team building, professional development, creative thinking techniques, strategic planning and cultural understanding. The program launched in summer 2013.

Meet UW Oshkosh College of Business Professor B.S. Sridhar in this ‘Faculty Five’ video…


Beyond the academic experience, the program’s immersions involve visits to Wisconsin-based corporations and corporate partners with the goal of providing the emergent Viessmann Group executives a broader and up-close introduction to American markets and businesses.

“The Viessmann Leadership Development Program not only solidifies our emerging relationship with this outstanding German organization, but it enhances the university’s reputation on the world stage,” College of Business Dean William Tallon said. “UW Oshkosh is becoming known as a major player in international business education which brings benefits to our students and pride to our alumni.”

Since 2013, the UW Oshkosh-Viessmann academic partnerships have also sent groups of UW Oshkosh students to intern at Viessmann in Germany. The paid internship experience abroad provided students firsthand experience working with an international company that has established a globally respected reputation for its commitment to efficiency and sustainability.

The partnership with the more than $2.5 billion, family-owned company deepened in supporting two additional off-campus digester projects on the state’s largest dairy farm – Rosendale Dairy – and at a small dairy farm northwest of Oshkosh – Allen Farms. Dr. Martin Viessmann and his wife Annette also provided a 2012 gift to the institution that launched the Viessmann Endowed Chair in Sustainable Technology, UW Oshkosh’s first-ever fully endowed professorship.

Viessmann Group has established a remarkable track record. In 1985, it appointed its first environmental protection officer and, since then, has gone on to invent and share the “Efficiency Plus” sustainability project, demonstrating that German Federal Government’s energy and climate policy goals for 2050 could be accelerated based on present day technology. The Viessmann Group received the German Sustainability Award in 2009 for “Most Sustainable Production” and the German Energy Agency’s Efficiency Award in 2010.

Dr. Viessmann himself earned the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of German 1st Class, the highest tribute his government pays individuals for their service to the nation.

“The Viessmann Group once again displayed its unwavering commitment to the strategic alliance with the University,” Sridhar said. “Nothing symbolized it better than Professor Viessmann flying in to spend two hours and expressing his confidence in the participants and the program.”

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