On competence and ambition

What makes the Carl Benz Academy special?

Since 2012, the Carl Benz Academy (CBA) has graduated two pilot MBA classes. This makes the dynamic institution one of the world’s younger corporate universities. The inaugural graduation ceremony was recently held at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management in Beijing. Working in China and studying in Beijing, Los Angeles and Berlin, CBA’s students seem to perfectly anticipate, trigger and absorb the change currently going on in the automotive industry. Their study program has some features which appear to result from the particular blend of academic methodology, industry related content and intercultural awareness.

Carl Benz Academy was founded in 2012 by Mercedes-Benz and their Chinese dealer groups. The academic founding partners come from China (Peking University, Guanghua School of Management), USA (Woodbury University, School of Business) and Germany (DUW Berlin University for Professional Studies). These university partners bring in various approaches of management and leadership teaching and it is surely no coincidence that the program faculty combines expert knowledge from three of the world’s most important automotive markets.

What else makes the Carl Benz Academy special? Whereas typical corporate universities tend to be subsidiaries of their respective holding companies, the CBA is an independent institution reporting to a foundation under Chinese law. The foundation’s stakeholders and donors come from various business sectors and bring in the endowment.  Donors are not allowed to interfere with academic issues and program development.

Given the fact that all CBA students are working professionals with busy schedules, a special focus of the program is on blended learning, allowing the participants to combine work life with their professional studies. Or, as CBA chancellor Manfred Schönebeck likes to put it, “CBA is the world’s first global cloud university”. Well, shaping the future always has been a question of competence AND ambition…

In Germany, some of the largest corporate universities were shut down last year. Most corporate universities of small and medium sized companies are limited to skills training courses and in-house certificates. Others do have academic cooperation partners, but struggle with their HR management when it comes to the development of strategic and sustainable partnerships with universities. The Carl Benz Academy may become, in the not too distant future, the role model of a cooperative corporate university, allying a global vision and strategic strengths with academic methodology, intercultural awareness and a solid grounding in the automotive industry.

Let’s keep an eye on them…