When Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) has a complex business challenge, the global automotive giant regularly reaches out to Georgia State’s Robinson College of Business. Through collaborative semester-long projects called Insight Sprints, the company partners with Robinson students to analyze raw data, leverage modeling tools, and derive sustainable solutions for the issue at hand.
Most recently, MBUSA’s supply chain team realized the inventory reporting process could stand to be improved, and called on students from Robinson’s M.S. in Data Science & Analytics (MSDA) program for help. In just 16 weeks, the group developed a model capable of detecting inventory anomalies within the existing reporting system.
“We love the diversity, energy, and passion of the students,” said Michael Basak, MBUSA's head of North American supply chain. “They have a creative can-do attitude.”
Robinson and MBUSA have a longstanding partnership dating back to 2016, when the company hosted a case competition challenging participants to come up with a strategy to market a new car model. When a team of Robinson students won first place against other universities, MBUSA amped up its recruiting efforts at Georgia State. The relationship blossomed from there.
“Our partnership with Mercedes-Benz demonstrates not only the strength and power of Insight Sprints but also the value we offer to businesses,” said Walter Wallace, director of strategic partnerships at Robinson. “MSDA students gain valuable experience interacting with for-profit corporations and developing solutions to real-world problems.”
After the onset of the pandemic, Robinson and MBUSA launched “MBUSA x GSU Agile for HR” as part of a new apprenticeship program. Through the initiative, Robinson undergraduate and graduate students gain hands-on experience in areas such as HR process improvement, staff onboarding, and employee retention. Student apprentices are selected each semester and earn a competitive hourly wage, with opportunities to engage in mentoring, network with executives, and shadow MBUSA staff. Apprentices who return for a second semester rotate to new roles to broaden their experience, and top interns are invited to interview for full-time roles. Four cohorts of students have completed the program.“The partnership was instrumental in creating the blueprint for the agile HR transformation at MBUSA,” said Crystal Taylor MBUSA’s HR agile lead. “Over the course of two semesters, a total of seven undergraduate and graduate apprentices helped drive the fine tuning of our practices, including the design and implementation of new ways of working and thinking in an ever-changing and complex business environment.”
Robinson’s strategic partnerships further the college’s mission by not only preparing people from all backgrounds to lead, innovate, and achieve their potential, but also providing enduring value to the business community.
“Our customized approach to the apprenticeship program, Insight Sprints, and other activities with strategic partners results in significant ROI,” said Jason Aldrich, Robinson’s assistant dean for strategic partnerships and career advancement. “In this case, our students engaged in experiential learning and gained invaluable experience with a global brand. Mercedes-Benz accessed highly qualified early career talent from one of the most diverse student bodies in the region and co-created innovations to advance its business.”