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Porträt Prof. Dr. Walter Reicher - Modulleiter, Kulturmanager und Intendant

 ·  June 21 2022

Portrait: Dr. Walter Reicher – Module Instructor and Culture Director

Prof. Dr. Walter Reicher holds the Silver Badge of Honor for Services to the Republic of Austria, the Cross of Merit in Gold for Services to the Provincial Capital of Eisenstadt, the Commander’s Cross of the Province of Burgenland and, since last year, also the Cross of Honor I Class for Science and Art.

“He shaped the Austrian artistic and cultural landscape like hardly anyone else. Has dedicated his life to music and is known far beyond the borders of our country for his expertise and fascination for music,” said Chancellery Minister Karoline Edtstadler at the award ceremony in September 2021.

At the eLearning Academy for Communication, he leads the module “Fundamentals of Marketing” since 2021. In our exclusive interview, he tells us more about himself, how he came to online teaching and stands by it. Enjoy reading!

Prof. Dr. Reicher, you have a lot in common with Burgenland and Eisenstadt, the “home” of the eLearning Academy. Tell us a bit about yourself and this connection.

Although I was born in southern Burgenland, I did not live and work in Burgenland for a long time. In 1988, I received a call from the then Burgenland provincial councilor who was looking for a managing director for the newly founded Haydn Festival. This brought me back to Burgenland and I decided to move to Eisenstadt with my wife. Since then, our center of life has been here – I, my family, children, grandchildren live here.

Why you teach “Fundamentals of Marketing” at the eLearning Academy for Communication? Where does your enthusiasm for marketing come from?

Marketing is and always has been an important part of my professional life, not only professional but also student life. As a student at the University of Economics in Vienna, I built up and founded a student edition with the Hilger Gallery. Even then I was managing director and chairman and knew that it is not everything to have a good product, but that it is also important to market it properly and to be able to inspire people for it.

As managing director of the Haydn Festival, I initially had a very small team, which meant that I not only developed and helped shape the marketing process strategically, but also operationally. In this way, I also learned to combine theory with practice. I think that’s very important for students: As a module instructor, you are not just a “dry trainer”. It’s like a diving course, where theory is of course very important, but at some point you also have to be in the water to learn to dive. And I know exactly both sides, theory and practice of marketing. I think that I can support the students well and help them to learn the basics in this area.

You teach “Fundamentals of Marketing”. What exactly are your tasks as module instructor?

I am not a man of the first hour in this module, but have taken over it from Prof. Stumpf. He developed the module, the content, texts and videos. So at the beginning, I started to get familiar with the structure and the setup. I first worked through the module myself. In some places I made additions to bring in something from my direction and my experience.

Later, when the two specializations “Event Management and Marketing Communication” and “Cross-media Marketing Communication” were added, I helped develop content and create instructional videos to dive deeper into the respective specializations and provide more detailed insights into these individual areas of marketing.

My duties as module instructor include the ongoing supervision of the module, answering all inquiries about the module or module work, and assessing it. I perform the activity as a lecturer on a part-time basis. This means, but does not mean, that it is done on the side. I take my tasks very seriously and also take a lot of time, especially for my feedback on the module work.

Prof. Dr. Walter Reicher bei der Ausstellungseröffnung Mozarthaus Wien

(c) Eva Kelety.

And about the module itself, what content is taught and, above all, how is it assessed at the end of the module?

The module enables a confident handling of the marketing concept and the classification of marketing communication in the economic marketing concept. As the name of the module suggests, the “fundamentals of marketing” are taught, diving into the individual policy areas, primarily product, price and distribution policy. Students will learn how a marketing concept is structured. To complete the module, they must submit a module paper at the end. They have to put themselves in the shoes of a marketing manager of a real company or organization and create a marketing concept for that company or organization.

It is very important to me to give a comprehensible assessment that supports the students in their further development. The focus of the assessment is on the content and not on formalities, such as correct punctuation. Of course, the formality such as spelling, scientificity (sources), and so on must also be given, but it is more important to me that the students have not only read the content, but can apply it correctly.

You have been teaching for many years. What do you like most about it?

I myself had a lecturer who always said that the best thing is not to keep your knowledge to yourself, but to pass it on. I took that to heart and that’s why I also want to pass on my knowledge. Teaching always challenges you and you learn so much. You find out what else is going on in the world in individual areas, even across generations, and that’s what makes it so exciting for me.

In your career as a lecturer, you have experienced both face-to-face teaching and online teaching. How do you feel about the two forms of teaching?

We’ve spent the last 2 years, because of the pandemic, all of a sudden having to teach everyone online. Which has to be said: The eLearning Academy had a very big advantage here, because the studies were always already online and you therefore also knew how to do it.

I noticed big differences here and also saw how difficult the changeover was for some institutions, but also for lecturers who were suddenly thrown in at the deep end. For me, too, it was a horror at first. I thought I would have to change my entire teaching concept, which was based on face-to-face teaching, to such a high level of online teaching as I was familiar with from the eLearning Academy. After all, at the beginning of the pandemic, we didn’t know how long it would last and how long face-to-face teaching would be impossible at the universities. It would have been a question of time to change the entire teaching concept for one year. So face-to-face teachers, like me, have tried to change over as well as possible. However, it must be honestly said that it would not have been possible at the high level that the eLearning Academy does, due to time and resource constraints. Nevertheless, it went better than I initially thought it would. Mainly for the reason that my students already had half a year of Zoom experience.

But now I’m about to face another cohort, in person, and I’m really looking forward to that. It’s just a different way of working. You can work in groups, cater to the needs of the group. Of course, there are ways to do this online, but it’s quite different when you’re sitting live in front of the others. You see how people interact and react. That’s still very important to me and nice to observe.

I have drawn the following conclusion for myself: New content, new knowledge must be taught in face-to-face classes or be structured (with modules, chapters, interim exams, …) in the way that the eLearning Academy already does.

What makes online teaching exciting for you?

The concept of the eLearning Academy is very well thought out and I liked that right from the start. The structure of the individual modules is very clear:

  • the introduction to the modules,
  • the individual chapters,
  • in between you have self-tests to check whether you have understood what you have read,
  • at the end there is a practical module task.

It is similar to a computer game, where you have to work your way from level to level to reach the goal.

I have several years of experience in teaching. Among other things, I founded the International Center for Cultural Management in Salzburg in the late 80s, early 90s. So I would say that I know what students need, what they want and how they work. Now, however, the nature of teaching has changed in recent years: Away from dialogue to online distance learning. This has had both positive and negative effects. What has been exciting for me is my own different approach that has developed as a result. For example, in online teaching, I first look at the submitted work, assess it objectively and detached from the person. Only after the assessment do I find out about the student in his or her Moodle profile. Some have written short texts about themselves. It is very interesting to then get a picture of the person who wrote the paper.

It is always exciting to see when you receive questions from the students before the module work, give advice on it, the module work is handed in, whether the advice has been used and taken to heart. In reality, because of online teaching, these are also the only moments when I have direct contact with students as a lecturer.

Why should people continue their education and study in the field of marketing communications?

There’s an age-old saying that fits very well here, “You snooze, you lose.” It’s very important to keep studying something – no matter what it is and in what field. Even in my day, there was a turnaround in professional life. Our grandmothers and grandfathers used to start working in a company or a profession and it was very likely that they would work in that job until they retired. Nowadays, and even in my time, it is and was completely different. I think I am an exception here. The fact that I was an artistic director for 30 years is also rather unusual. Normally, you look for something new after 5 or 10 years. I had the great fortune that something new always happened: first the Haydn Foundation, then we started with operas, then there was the anniversary again and the two-hundredth anniversary of his death. Within that one job, something was always happening. But that’s not common in every job, certainly not in the arts and culture scene, marketing or management.

Just because you learned something once and applied it for years doesn’t mean there aren’t new, more exciting maybe even better approaches. Let’s take the management field as an example. In the years that I was a general manager, there were countless techniques that were up to date at the time: from dolphin management, to predator management, then came management of war and lean management, etc. At that time, I spent a lot of time in the library of the University of Economics and Business Administration to get information in my subjects, to research trends and publications and to stay up to date.

Long story short: the world and knowledge are changing. If you want to continue to be a player here, or at least not be left out, then you have to keep at it, keep educating yourself and keep learning. Even if one or the other was lucky enough to win the Euro millions or to become rich and famous as a dropout anyway, but that is a small percentage. Everyone else needs a good education and further training to be successful in the job market.

What do you do when you’re not teaching?

I always say I deal – professionally and privately – with cultural goods of all kinds: music, theater, literature, visual arts, exhibitions. Not only I, but also my wife, we are at home in the cultural world. My wife makes music, plays the cello. I like to read very much. We have an unbelievable number of books, which we even have to take out to the grandfather because there are so many.

In addition, we have had a dog for 2 years and like to go for walks a lot. And we are in the fortunate position of having grandchildren. It’s wonderful to be able to spend time with them. Whether it’s screwing and sawing with grandson or painting with granddaughter, it fulfills me.

Prof. Dr. Walter Reicher mit Hund Bella

What would you like to pass on to students?

I was in the position of being able to do a job that fulfilled me and that I didn’t do just to make money. I didn’t think every day, “I have to rush home so I can do what I’m passionate about.” That’s a great privilege that I wish for everyone.

Keep the joy in what they are doing. Stay healthy and happy. Be passionate about what you do. Burn for what you do, because that’s the only way to “set others on fire.” This is especially important in marketing.


Learning from the best?

Our module leaders are experts in their field and have years of practical experience. They create up-to-date content for you, support you on your way to the title “Master of Arts” and are always available to answer your questions about the modules.

Practical relevance is particularly important to us. In order to complete a module in the Master’s program, you must submit a practice-oriented module assignment. The assignments are individual and contain specific questions. You analyze or develop concepts and plans and directly apply what you have learned.

Would you like to study in a practical way and receive individual support? Then find out now at the next free and non-binding info evening with study advisor Anria Brandstätter. A virtual tour of the online campus and all information about the master’s program “Marketing Communication” is waiting for you. Register now and secure your place!

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