Like the steady productivity of an assembly line, Clemson University’s MBA program is feeding South Carolina’s automotive-related companies with business-ready talent to meet the $27 billion industry’s growing needs.

MBA, auto industry, employment

Cherie McCain and Matt Sterner are MBA grads working in the auto industry at BMW and Mercedes, respectively.
Image Credit: Submitted

“It’s no accident that the state’s flourishing automotive industry has found Clemson’s MBA program to be fertile ground for recruiting its next generation of business leaders,” said Jamie Patterson, MBA director of career services and student experience. “We’ve created a talent pipeline to these businesses for student internships and full-time positions.”

Patterson said four of the MBA program’s top 10 employers are in the automotive industry. According to student self-reporting data, since 2010, the MBA program had approximately 175 graduates filling full-time positions in the state’s automotive-related companies.

“Over the years, we’ve built great relationships with several automotive companies as well as their suppliers. They recruit the Clemson MBA program in a number of functional areas, including engineering, supply chain, finance and human resources,” Patterson added. “The program enables our students to gain transferable knowledge to hone and grow their skills to be more innovative leaders in the industry.”

MBA, auto industry, BMW, Aneskievich

Caroline Aneskievich is an H.R. strategist at BMW.
Image Credit: Submitted

One of the MBA program’s relationships is with BMW Manufacturing Upstate South Carolina where it has about 10,000 employees. Caroline Aneskievich, ’10 language and international trade, ’11 marketing and ’15 MBA, an H.R. strategist for BMW, said the Clemson brand is strong and the car manufacturer finds quality graduates in a variety of positions, including engineering, purchasing, logistics, supply chain and IT, to new a few.

“BMW Manufacturing has a strategic partnership with Clemson in CU-ICAR directly, and has synergies that extend beyond. The geographical proximity and strategic partnership make Clemson fertile ground for recruiting disciplines in manufacturing, business and other areas,” she said. “If you’re coming from a master’s program, BMW’s global reach provides its employees an abundance of career opportunities not only in the Upstate, but abroad.”

In addition to South Carolina leading the U.S. in the export of completed passenger vehicles, the state is also No. 1 in the production and export of tires, which accounts for nearly one-third of the nation’s market share, according to the state Department of Commerce.

The economic impact of that output has created approximately 66,000 jobs in 400 companies that support all aspects of automotive manufacturing — parts, assemblers, suppliers and raw material producers — are based in South Carolina.

One beneficiary of the demand for professional talent in the South Carolina auto-related industries is Matt Sterner ’12 MBA. After receiving his business graduate degree from Clemson, he worked for General Motors in New York. But the automotive industry’s abundance of career opportunities drew him back here, where he works for Mercedes-Benz USA.

“Not only did Clemson’s MBA program provide me with the soft skills and leadership principals to further my career, it exposed me to the many career opportunities that are available in automotive-related industries in the Upstate,” said Sterner, a logistics specialist in the Worldwide Transportation NAFTA team, which procures transportation for all Daimler business units in the region. “I really liked what the MBA program offered, and I took a liking to the area, so when I found an opportunity to advance my career, I moved back to the Upstate.”

After serving eight years in the Army, Marion Singleton enrolled in Clemson’s MBA program and is on track to graduate in May of 2019. Currently, a quality control intern at BMW Manufacturing, Singleton said it was the “prestige of the Clemson brand” that drew him to the Upstate for his graduate studies.

“I wanted to be more marketable and I know what the Clemson brand means in the state and region. The university’s reputation for excellence can open many doors,” Singleton said. “The program itself has really helped me think on my feet and the networking, top-notch technology and relationship building are all preparing me for some great career opportunities.”

The Clemson brand will continue to be a strong incentive for the state’s auto-related employers to hire MBA graduates, according to Patterson.

“Not only is the auto industry continuing to grow in South Carolina, it is evolving. There will be job opportunities 10 years from now that don’t exist today,” Patterson said. “Our graduates are aptly qualified to fill those roles with the astute problem solving and communication skills the MBA program develops. These are attributes 21st century employers value in tomorrow’s leaders.”

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