My CAReer journey began in Boeblingen in January 2015. Although it is only a 1.5 hour flight, moving to Stuttgart was quite a „culture shock“ after having just lived in London for five years.
I joined the team of Mr. Schubert and Mr. Bitzer as a purchaser for tires and wheels, a crucial commodity for safety components and essential to a high-end, accident-free driving experience. The procurement department works hand in hand with Research & Development (RD) and Quality Management to negotiate the best deals with renowned suppliers on a daily basis.
In order for me to gain a better understanding of the criteria and requirements for which type of tires could be feasible with different series, I undertook an assignment of four months at the RD center at the neighbor plant in Sindelfingen. The physical assessment of the tires takes place on different test tracks in Germany, Sweden and Spain. I accompanied a professional test-driver from the department to our Mercedes box on the test track in Idiada (Barcelona). He demonstrated various aspects of the tires that must be tested, such as cavity noise, rolling resistance and many others, in order to determine which tires have the best performance.
Before I started my first project abroad, I was given the opportunity to represent the CAReer group of 2015 at the Director’s Dialogue in Sindelfingen, which is held as an annual workshop amongst the top-management level and external experts. The day revolved around topics including the Daimler portfolio and concluded with a discussion about “Mobility and transportation services” led by our CEO Dr. Zetsche.
Extraordinary working culture
My next assignment took me to Sunnyvale, California, joining the „Business Innovation“ team at Mercedes-Benz Research Development North America (MBRDNA). You can already assume from the architectural environment with an enormous sculpture of the Mercedes star shining in front of the office that great things are happening inside. Besides Business Innovation, there are also the app development, autonomous driving and design units that share the offices across three stories.
With an extraordinary working culture, unique from all other Daimler locations, there are balconies to relax on and kitchens fully equipped with fresh smoothies, drinks and snacks on every floor. Quiet rooms and entertainment rooms provide a fun and welcoming environment with your daily dose of Relaxation.
Place of good ideas
However, this is a typical working environment in Silicon Valley with many global players just around the corner, including Google, Apple, Tesla, Microsoft, Linkedin, Airbnb, Uber, Facebook to only name a few. What fascinated me the most was the really unique spirit of so many great minds thinking about „the next big thing“. Sometimes this vocational culture in „the valley“ is hard to believe, but in that part of America you can’t really call any American or their ideas crazy because this is the place where good ideas start spreading around the world … once they get funding.
Compared to our German luxurious standards of having 6 weeks of vacation a year, I felt quite sorry for the American colleagues who only have roughly around 15 days off a year. On the contrary, once you step out of the office you feel like you are already on a holiday anyways. Whatever preference you have, the 51st state has just about everything to offer. Starting in the north cruising down Highway No.1 you will see Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, the Bay Area and the beautiful Big Sur coastline.
Places like Santa Barbara, Malibu and of course Los Angeles and Orange Country lure you with their perfect beaches and relaxing atmosphere until you finally reach San Diego, the southernmost point of California. Another route will take you back through the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite Park and many other unique and amazing attractions.
No dull Moment in China
From wildest nature to one of the most polluted cities in the world is where I headed next – Beijing. China happens to be the fastest growing market for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. With four offices solely in Beijing, Mercedes-Benz is establishing their brand better than ever in the country with the highest population in the world. China has various laws and tax regulations; therefore it was my task to support the Mercedes Procurement (MP) China team when developing different options for MB car interiors.
What seemed pretty normal and easy for a European mind was in fact very challenging given the circumstance that you are no longer in Europe or your own comfort zone. What made me think the most and left a lasting impression on me was the fact that there is no right or wrong when you compare how the same things are handled in different countries with a completely different culture and mindset. The chinese culture being one of the oldest cultures in the world, there was never a day without a jaw-dropping moment. Whether it was the food, the attractions, the nightlife, the city or just the people themselves with completely different attitudes and habits from my own, there was never a dull moment in China.
Year of the Monkey
A real highlight was the Daimler annual party which is celebrated in conjunction with the Chinese New Year (Year of the monkey). Out of 3,000 invited Daimler employees, every single guest – from intern to top management level – was involved in a performance that built up to a 3 hour show throughout the whole evening, which was even judged and awarded by a jury panel afterwards. And of course, after having lived in London, Stuttgart and Silicon Valley I thought I knew what „traffic jam“ meant…but Beijing is definitely in another league.
Not too far away was my last assignment abroad with Daimler Financial Service (DFS) in Singapore. I was very curious to see if DFS is more of a classical banking derivate, but once again I had an eye-opening experience of how many customer needs Daimler is covering with the offices, departments and units located across the world. My topic at DFS was how to assess a customer’s credit risks after ordering a Mercedes-Benz car. Therefore, we developed a method to analyze „digital footprints“ – a trail that almost everyone leaves these days, especially being connected to the World Wide Web.
The Million Dollar View
Similar to California, Singapore has various options to offer to travel nearby and see the most beautiful parts of this world, including: Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and of course Singapore itself. The cliché about how much trouble you can get into being caught throwing away chewing gum on the street may be true, but frankly, it is one of the cleanest and most secure cities you could ever imagine. I was lucky enough to live in the newly built Marina Bay area, so instead of watching TV every night, I could just look outside my window and enjoy the so called „million dollar view“.
Having arrived back in Europe I completed my production assignment assembling Sprinters in Duesseldorf, followed by a week in Cologne in order to get a deeper insight of how a dealership works (literally).
I had doubts in the beginning if Boeblingen could compensate for moving away from London, leaving my family, friends and partner behind. But with their support joining the CAReer Program, the Daimler AG definitely did. The CAReer program was my fifth encounter with Daimler, having completed internships, seminar papers and my final thesis beforehand.
What I learned during those past years was that the crucial pillars that shape the culture of Daimler are implemented throughout the world and make you feel like you have a family, no matter where you travel to. For myself, having a great team around me with supportive managers having guided me throughout the CAReer program was just the icing on the cake that is Daimler.