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As we step into the next decade, students must equip themselves with an increasingly wide range of skills to compete in the job market. For students interested in working with one of the more than 200 German companies in the state of South Carolina, it’s critical that they have both cultural, foreign language and digital skills.

Preparing students for success, exposing them to experts in the field and giving them the opportunity to network are some of the goals of the College of Charleston’s fourth annual German-American Business Summit hosted in partnership with The Citadel and Trident Technical College.

“We cannot emphasize enough how important it is for our students and faculty to strengthen relationships with industry. Many German-American businesses offer internships, site visits and come to speak in our classrooms,” says Gioconda Quesada, chair of the Department of Supply Chain and Information Management in the School of Business.

An example of the summit’s success is recent graduate Grant Pigeon’19, a German major and global logistics and transportation minor, who secured a full-time position with ISRINGHAUSEN at last year’s summit and accepted a full-time position upon graduation.

Stephanie Selker ’19, who double-majored in German and Political Science, also found the summit to be key in launching her professional life after graduation.

“Ultimately, the business summit opened the door for me to gain a summer internship with Mercedes-Benz Vans in the communication department, which led to me receiving a job with the German company ZAPP after graduation,” says Selker. “Not only did I gain valuable professional experience, I was also able to practice my German.”

german american business summit

Morgan Koerner, chair of the Department of German and Russian Studies, speaks at a previous German-American Business Summit.

Morgan Koerner, chair of the Department of German and Russian Studies and founder of the summit, says, “It has been wonderful to witness the tremendous growth of CofC’s German-American Business Summit over the past four years, which has paralleled the growing importance of German and German industry throughout the region. As of 2019, German is the most common household language behind English and Spanish in South Carolina and there are over 200 German companies in South Carolina directly responsible for 40,000-plus jobs.”

The summit will take place Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Charleston Gaillard Center in downtown Charleston, less than a mile from the College of Charleston campus. It is organized by the College of Charleston’s German program, the School of Languages, Cultures and World Affairs, the Career Center and the School of Business in partnership with The Citadel and Trident Technical College. The summit will bring together 10 German companies in the Southeastern U.S. and college students to participate in a job fair and internship expo as well as a keynote presentation and panel discussions that will focus on the theme of digital transformations.

The summit schedule is as follows:

  • 11:30 p.m to 1:30 p.m.: Job and Internship Expo with German companies including Mercedes-Benz Vans, IFA, MAU, KION, Hendrick BMW, BLG Logistics, Hubner, BMW, ZAPP Precision Wire, Isringhausen, SEW Eurodrive, Siemens USA, Ivannovation and DB Schenker
  • 1:30 p.m.: Welcome and Introduction, College of Charleston President Andrew T. Hsu
  • 1:40 p.m.: Introduction, Alan T. Shao, dean, School of Business
  • 1:45 p.m. to 2:40 p.m. Keynote Presentation: Ruth Gratzke, senior vice president for Smart Infrastructure with Siemens USA will discuss her organization’s focus on driving sustainable, resilient and smart technologies and their investment in STEM to support the future workforce.
  • 2:40: Welcome: Sebastian van Delden, interim dean, School of Sciences and Mathematics
  • 2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.: Panel discussion “Cybersecurity in German-American Industry” moderated by Xenia Mountrouidou, assistant professor of computer science at CofC, and featuring Kurt John, chief cybersecurity officer with Siemens USA, Knut Hilles, CIO for VW Chattanooga, and Marcel Schäfer, senior research scientistfor  Fraunhofer USA, Center for Experimental Software Engineering
  • 4:30-5:30pm: Panel Discussion on “(Big) Data in German-American Industry” moderated by Iris Junglas, CofC’s Noah T. Leask Distinguished Chair in Information Management and Innovation, and featuring Meg Lanza, director of technical functions at Bosch USA, Noah Gresham, CEO and co-founder at Tatras Data, and Ludger Reckmann, president and CEO of IFA North America LLC.

The summit will conclude with a networking reception for attendees from the business community. To register for the summit, visit german.cofc.edu.