WMU News

DaimlerChrysler named Employer of the Year

Aug. 1, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University has named DaimlerChrysler as its 2001-02 Employer of the Year.

The award was presented at a special luncheon July 19 in Kalamazoo. Accepting the award were two DaimlerChrysler employees who graduated from WMU, Randy Hazel, supplier quality manager-exterior, and Charles Koehn, loaned executive to the Automotive Industry Action Group.

Career & Student Employment Services, part of WMU's Division of Student Affairs, has been selecting one employer for the honor each academic year since 1991. Recipients are chosen based on their outstanding recruiting practices and involvement in educational partnerships that contribute to the career development and employment of WMU students and alumni.

"It's a pleasure to recognize DaimlerChrysler this year because the company has made significant contributions to enhancing our students' career development and internship prospects," says Linda Ickes, CSES associate director of employer development.

"DaimlerChrysler has been an active partner with WMU, and it's especially fitting that Randy Hazel and Chuck Koehn will be accepting the Employer of the Year Award on behalf of the company. The successful partnership is due to Randy and Chuck's commitment, leadership and willingness to be partners in education."

Hazel, who earned a bachelor of science in engineering degree in mechanical engineering from WMU in 1987, works closely with the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and has taken a special interest in sharing his career insights with students. Koehn, who earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science from WMU in 1965, devotes leadership time to the integrated supply matrix management program in the Haworth College of Business.

According to DaimlerChrysler's human resources department, the company currently employs about 240 people who have degrees from WMU and recruits from WMU "because the University consistently produces motivated, innovative, inspired and high-achieving individuals."

Ickes commends the global automaker for seeking students who excel academically and demonstrate leadership skills and then providing training and work opportunities that allow their career paths to flourish.

"Randy Hazel's career exemplifies this value and he talks openly about the work it takes to be successful," she says. "His presentations are really popular with the students and they enjoy and benefit from hearing the variety of positions that he has held and how each position led to the next. Recognizing when to take opportunities is a real career management skill that is best learned through life stories and mentoring."

Recruiting and partnering with WMU has been a rewarding experience because it validates that Western can compete with any school out there, Hazel says.

Koehn, too, reports his association with WMU has been a positive experience, particularly his service on the Integrated Supply Management Executive Council, which he has headed as chairperson for the past two years.

"It gives me a great deal of pride and personal satisfaction to be involved in recruiting students from my alma mater," he says, adding that working with the faculty and staff at the Haworth College of Business has been both a privilege and a joy. "Sitting on the council has brought me and my colleagues from other companies close to the issues facing business schools and their constituents."

Most importantly, though, he says his council activities have brought him close to the students who have chosen WMU's "excellent" integrated supply matrix management program to prepare them for a career.

"They are the most engaging, enthusiastic and militant group of students I have ever been exposed to," Koehn says. "These are "True Believers" on a mission and they are a joy to behold."

Leaders at the business college are equally impressed by Koehn. "Chuck Koehn's efforts have made the relationship between DaimlerChrysler and WMU's Integrated Supply Matrix Management the best model of industry-university collaboration that I've seen in my 25 years in business education," says Haworth Dean James W. Schmotter. "It's a true partnership that involves not just financial support and the hiring of students, but also invaluable professional advice that has shaped our curriculum and thereby helped other business stakeholders as well."

Ickes says Koehn's and Hazel's involvement with WMU also has been invaluable in exposing students to DaimlerChrysler's three "well organized, highly developed and highly competitive" internship and management training programs.

The Summer Intern Program is a three- to four-month paid assignment in one of the functional areas within the Procurement and Supply unit. Each intern is assigned specific duties, goals to achieve, and challenging projects that provide opportunities for personal growth and development.

The Procurement and Supply Management Trainee Program is open to summer interns after they obtain their bachelor's degrees. It consists of rotational assignments within various functional areas of Procurement and Supply and lasts for three years. Each trainee is assigned a peer mentor and an executive-level sponsor who provides guidance and advice on work assignments, on-the-job problems, performance strengths and potential career path options at DaimlerChrysler.

The Supplier Quality Engineering CIE Program, also for those with previous intern experience, has a limited number of annual openings and requires participants to enter a master's degree program in mechanical, electrical or quality engineering at a designated local university. The program allows the trainee to rotate through six four-month work assignments under an assigned executive sponsor who provides input on work assignments, graduate studies and career planning. Upon successful completion of all program requirements, trainees become supplier quality specialists.

According to DaimlerChrysler, the company has 372,500 employees and maintains manufacturing facilities in 37 countries. One of the world's leading automotive, transportation and services companies, it had revenues of $136.1 billion in 2001, selling nearly 4 million passenger cars and just under 500,000 commercial vehicles.

Its passenger car brands include Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Maybach, Mercedes-Benz and smart. Commercial vehicles are produced under the American LaFrance, Freightliner, Mercedes-Benz, Orion, Setra, Sterling, Thomas Built Buses and Western Star brands. The company also has an alliance with Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and a strategic partnership with Hyundai Motor Co. and offers financial and other services through DaimlerChrysler Services.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu


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