Special Coverage

Management Briefing Seminars

Europe’s War on Talent

Mercedes-Benz is looking to U.S. universities for engineers because “in Europe there is a war for talent” that is limiting growth, says Kevin Krueger, a marketing manager for the consulting subsidiary MBTech.

His company, which has grown to 450 engineers and consultants in the U.S. in the last three years, plans to hire U.S. engineering graduates and send them to Germany for two or three years to work on Mercedes projects before bringing them back.

“Powertrain and vehicle engineering are the two areas that are losing people right and left,” says Krueger, operating an exhibit at the MBS. Some 75% of MBTech business is with Daimler and Chrysler.

Not in Toledo

Larry Drake, president and CEO of Kuka Flexible Production Systems, closes his presentation Monday about his company’s experience in Chrysler’s supplier park in Toledo, OH, with a slide exclaiming “Kuka Rocks!”

A few minutes later, Joseph Hinrichs, Ford’s vice president-North American manufacturing, tests a microphone before the start of a panel by joking, “Kuka rocks.”

Drake then asks Hinrichs, “Can I quote you on that?”

“Not in Toledo, you can’t,” responds Hinrichs.

Drake says he didn’t think Kuka had a chance to become one of the suppliers managing Jeep Wrangler production in the Toledo Supplier Park when Wolfgang Bernhard, then the chief operating officer for the Chrysler Group, first approached him about bidding on the job.

“My only goal was to hang out with the guys,” Drake says. “I didn’t think we’d really get the job.”

Star Trek? What’s That?

After recounting several examples of Siemens’ global successes, Raj Batra, vice president-automation and motion division for Siemens Energy and Automation, cites one of its failures: the mobile phone.

The firm miscalculated the popularity of the flip-style phone in the U.S. and missed an opportunity to get into the North American market.

“Coming from Europe, we just didn’t understand how popular the Star Trek communicator was in the U.S.,” Batra says.