Daimler by degree: My way to the trucks

Getting up in the morning around 7, having a short shower, grabbing something to eat and heading to „Financing and Accounting“. I haven’t experienced this for almost 3 years now until I started my executive master program in Karlsruhe some weeks ago.

But first things first. My name is Michael and I started working at Daimler in May 2012 after gaining my Bachelor Degree in Industrial Engineering earlier that same year. After graduating from university, I found myself in a complicated situation.

The question was how to go on. There were just too many possibilities and things I was interested in, combined with too few experience to really tell what I wanted to do. The challenge for me was to get an overview in that jungle of opportunities.

Of course, you can always sort of try things out. Like most of you, I did some internships but 6 months are hardly enough to understand completely what that specific job is about. In addition you are most certainly not so lucky to find the job of your dreams in one of these internships.

SOP of our new Heavy Duty engine in Kawasaki with the entire project team and participants.

In general, I did not feel prepared in any way to start working. Out of these 6 semesters I spent one abroad, one in an internship and one being focused on my thesis. Are 1.5 years of actual studying sufficient to start working in a company? Probably not. But at the same time I also had no real idea which Master program to apply for and at which university. The solution? Doing what everyone does and simply start applying at several companies and universities.

One of these applications also went to the CAReer program. But once again during that application phase, some doubts started growing. My CV was already submitted but I was more and more thinking that for my personal ambition, only 1.5 years of taught semesters was not what I really wanted.

That could not have been everything the world has to offer in that wide area of Industrial Engineering. No, I have to do a Master program. But what? And where? Damn it.

Try things out
Then I remembered something that helped me throughout my way before. Try things out. And from that moment on I had a clear goal and a defined plan for the first time in months. I was specifically looking for companies that supported starting a master program after some time of working.

Strangely, there weren’t too many that did so. Daimler has a central department dedicated to ongoing education which offers a program called Daimler Academic Programs (or DAP). They try to enhance this education after one or more years of work experience by financial aids, dedicated trainings and networking.

During the CAReer Program, there are several training modules where participants from different countries come together. The second training module was set in Sao Paulo which was a great experience for all of us.

That sounded perfect to me. The idea was to work for two years, getting to know the working life, gaining experience and then apply for a master program that actually fits my interests.

Luckily, Daimler didn’t have the opinion that a Bachelor degree wasn’t enough and I passed the assessment. Afterwards, you always have an additional interview with your future boss which takes place before signing the contract. Here I clearly mentioned my plan to start a Part Time Master program after 2-3 years of working and surprisingly, he directly agreed.

International logistics planning for Daimler Trucks
In my department, we do international logistics planning for Daimler Trucks. Basically we support mostly global projects within our existing plants or do greenfield planning in case of new production sites. As an example, we were strongly involved in layout and material flow planning of our newest production site in Chennai, India. As the tasks are very diverse and embedded in big projects with links to many other functions, I can say that I really learned a lot within the last 2.5 years in my job.

When starting the application process for the Master program in January, I then had a very clear picture in my mind regarding what I wanted to do and where to go. I wanted to get an additional theoretical background to what I am doing in my everyday work, to see where we as a department can improve and get an additional deep dive into management topics.

Production and Operations Management Program at the Hector School of the KIT
I selected the Production and Operations Management Program at the Hector School of the KIT. All courses are in English, around 20% of the participants are from abroad and it is being taught in blocks of 2 weeks instead of having classes on Frida and Saturday. After passing an internal assessment at Daimler and being accepted in Karlsruhe, the program started in September.

Welcome Barbeque at the first day with the entire group. There are 55 students from all over the world participating at the Hector School Master program.

Today, after the first two weeks, I can say it has really been the way I imagined it beforehand. We are a group of around 50 persons, all having prior work experience. Still, the average age is around 26-28, meaning there is a group of young people that helps getting a “group feeling”. We sit together in the lectures, we learn together in the evenings, we are having a beer on our roof terrace finishing the day, and we plan events such as going to the Stuttgarter Wasen on the weekend.

You can share experiences
At the same time, discussions within the lectures are very resourceful. You can share experiences and see how things are done in different industries. There is not that one way that is being presented by the professor anymore, there are rather many different opinions that come together and make the lecture very interesting.

You can now filter the information and take with you what might help you at your job and you can question statements that you experienced differently. I am not that “blind student” anymore who cannot say if what is presented will ever be needed in your future job and I’ve got to say that I like that point very much.

For me the perfect choice
All in all I am really looking forward to the next module already. For me, the way of first gaining work experience and then starting a master program was the perfect choice. Therefore, I can only recommend participating in DAP, especially as they are cooperating with many different universities and offer a lot of different programs. A positive side effect on all that: two more years of salary aren’t so bad either…

Mercedes-Benz Connection Tokyo: A great place where customers can experience our vehicles, drink a cocktail and have some finger food. Occasionally, there are also Mercedes-Benz Parties set within the Mercedes-Benz Connection.