Günther Haffner

Do not limit yourself ever!

Günther Haffner
Supporting talented students


Günther is an entrepreneur and investor as well as owner and general manager of a customer services company in Austria. His focus lies on helping his employees to create the best customer experiences possible and working with and developing aspiring students at IE and other higher education institutions. Prior to assuming his current positions, Günther learned his trade in the software engineering industry and gained over ten years of experience across multiple positions. In his current roles Günther aspires to learn more from new educational journeys to improve his business operations and generate a fulfilling experience. This has led to degrees in business informatics (BSc), computer science (MSc), finance management (MBA), and positive leadership (MSc at IE). Privately, Günther loves to enjoy the best sides of both Madrid and Vienna.

Supporting talented students


Define your experience at IE in one word.

What were some of the main challenges that you encountered on your way? How did your master program and IE help you through these challenges?
Having spent many years on furthering my businesses and career, at some stage I somewhat lacked new impulses. Hence, a part of me felt tied to a life on auto pilot operating out of my control. Here the program at IE really enriched me and helped me re-open my eyes and heart. Working for 15 months on diverse topics, spending time in a beautiful and new city in Madrid, engaging with a diverse group of students and connecting to people all over the world – all these aspects proved to be such an enthralling and enriching experience, and are crucial part of the program.

How did your experience at IE prepare you for your professional career? In what ways do you think program has changed your life professionally and personally?
In going to IE, I was particularly interested in the social and human side of group and business dynamics as well as myself. Trying to compress into a couple of sentences all the ways in which Positive Leadership is helpful for that would be impossible. What I can say, however, is that I am still super happy that I went through the program and that it helped me re-orient my life in the direction I wanted and needed to.

What was networking like in the program?
Joyful. We had dinners together every week in Madrid organized by IE. There we got to meet interesting characters from professors to other invited guests. Indeed, I am still in contact with most of my classmates and catch up with some of the professors regularly. You really keep in touch with IE.

What was your favorite memory from your time at IE?
There are so many. In fact, being at IE multiple times a year, new ones are created regularly. Some of my favorite moments, however, would be:

  • Positivity in life and work with Barbara Fredrickson – truly eye-opening
  • Yoga with Johannes Glarner – never done it before
  • Acupuncture in class for each student – I slept afterwards like I can’t remember
  • Bule Bule – a dinner show and after-party really connecting our class as a group

If someone was considering going to IE, what would you tell them?
Do it! This is one of the greatest places to study and learn. Just be open, enjoy the journey and work hard.

Why did you choose to study this program at IE?
After visiting IE for a short program in summer I stayed in touch with some people. This culminated in me attending positive day in Madrid. In listening to interviews with multiple Alumni and talking to them there was only one option: I wanted to do the program.

What is one thing you wished you knew, when you were a student? What advice would you give to students who are about to begin the program?
I did not have that feeling at all. The main advice for new students to the EXMPLST program would be: take your time, and take your environment with you on the journey. You will probably become a different person.

Tell us about the IE alumni community and the impact they have had in your life and/or career. Why do you think it’s important to engage with the IE alumni community?
IE alumni are everywhere. Meeting them in the cities you work or live in is a fantastic starting point for networking and forming enriching connections. With the IE alumni and its events there is always something to experience, be it the need of some advice, the help with a specific topic, or your own contribution to the community.

As one of the first contributors towards the Illuminated Bricks campaign, how does it feel?
I feel grateful for having the chance to give something meaningful back. I learned so much during my time at IE and this just feels like the right thing to do.

What made you decided to give your first gift?
I enjoyed having a diverse classroom. Not everyone can afford the programs, and with this contribution we can increase the diversity by helping someone join the programs.

In your opinion, why is it important to give back? Why does this cause matter to you?
I enjoy giving back, so when I see that my contribution helps, I feel connected and fulfilled. IE brings together and develops people - I had the luck to go onto such a life-changing journey. I want to help others experiencing the same.

What can we do within our IE Community to create an impact and support education?

Given the diversity at IE, students and alumni are connecting all over the world. Hearing all these fascinating ideas and bringing them together will, undoubtedly, have an impact transcending just the boundaries of the university.

What would you tell someone who was thinking about contributing?
Why do you wait?

If you had a billboard you could display to the entire world, what you would put on it?
Do not limit yourself ever!