Introducing Michaela Schobert, Director, Consulting Services

Written by: Will Middlebrooks

On Tuesday, July 1, 2014, the GACC South welcomed its new Director of Consulting Services, Michaela Schobert, to its Atlanta headquarters. Michaela comes to the GACC South from Haßfurt, Germany, where she was Head of the Export Department at Maintal Konfitüren GmbH. We sat down with her for a casual breakfast in order to get to know her a little better. Topics included her background, her hobbies and interests, and what she envisions for the GACC South and the German-American community.


Background, Hobbies, and Interests
Michaela was born in a small village community called Eußenheim-Münster. Located about 45 minutes away from Würzburg in the “Fränkisches Weinland” (Franconian Wine region) of Bavaria, Münster is home to only a few hundred people, and is where she lived for her childhood and through her primary schooling. Her favorite activities include Zumba as well as other sports and activities like Yoga, Latin dance and traveling. She also has a love for music, and used to play both the flute and the organ. Whenever there is something that she wants to do, Michaela sets out and accomplishes it. Thus she can’t wait to travel and explore the U.S.  more, maybe even in a cross-country road trip. She also has her sights set on a cruise in the Bahamas!

A Passion for International Trade
Working with and getting to know different cultures is something that Michaela has always enjoyed. Living as an Au Pair in the U.S. when she was younger, she found early on that she liked it here. Her love for other cultures grew further when she spent a semester abroad in Taiwan as an exchange student. She believes that her passion for international trade is also based on the importance of being able to communicate with people from other cultures and work successfully with them.

Plans for the GACC South and the German-American Community at Large
In her new role at the GACC South, Michaela wants to bring her vision and understanding of the small-to-medium-sized enterprise as a customer, and utilize this knowledge to bring to them exactly what they are seeking in a market entry project. To the German-American business community as a whole, she brings the point of view of somebody who has grown up in and is knowledgeable of both cultures, and hopes to further strengthen the ties between the two cultures.

Finally, Michaela looks forward to taking on a new challenge, and is excited to be working with such a great and diverse team. Furthermore, she looks forward to helping small-to-medium-sized organizations realize that the U.S. market is attainable for them.

We are looking forward to an exciting new start with Michaela! Be sure to give her a warm welcome at this year’s New Member Reception on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 from 5:30 – 7:30 PM. Further event info can be found here.

FIFA World Cup – How North Carolina Cheered for Germany and the USA

Written by Katharina Wilke

On June 26, 2014 hundreds of Germans and Americans gathered at the GACC South events in Charlotte and Raleigh to mingle into Thursday’s nail-biting World Cup match between USA and Germany.

Enthusiastic soccer fans crowded at Tyler's Restaurant and Taproom in Raleigh

Enthusiastic soccer fans crowded at Tyler’s Restaurant and Taproom in Raleigh

More than 200 people enjoyed the game with brats, sauerkraut and beer at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte. The OMB, a popular spot for watching the FIFA World Cup, installed an 8-foot high-definition projector screen in Charlotte’s oldest microbrewery.

Fans gathering at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte

Fans gathering at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte

170 miles further northeast, about 500 enthusiastic soccer fans crowded at Tyler’s Restaurant and Taproom in Raleigh to watch the match. The sports bar on the edge of the state capitol complex attracted a mix of civil servants, faculty from N.C. State University and guests of the GACC South.

While soccer is the most popular sport for Germans, we were happy to see a lot of Americans who caught on to the World Cup fever.

In the end, everyone was happy. Even though the USA lost 1-0, they advanced to the next round, together with Germany.

See you in the finals!

Go, Germany! Go, USA!

Distribution strategy – 1/3 – Business development perspective

Originally posted on Medical Devices / Healthcare Market Updates:



Catherine Tuten

Catherine, can you tell us more about your activities? 

I work for the GACC of the Southern US where I manage the US market entry services team.  We are the first point of contact for German companies entering or expanding in the US. The GACC is the official representative of German industry and trade.

Based on your experience, tell us the different models for a foreign company to sell its products in the US? 

-Export from your home country to the US directly to final consumers (B or C) or through distributors/partners

-US sales / manufacturing subsidiary, or

-Joint venture with a local company.

Based on the company’s products, market and opportunities, one or several distributors or local partners can be selected.

If a distributor has a great coverage of the…

View original 678 more words

Conference Takeaways: Globalism in Today’s Workforce

5 things to know about the global workforce of tomorrow:

1. Soft skills are an important aspect of educating a skilled workforce. In Georgia, programs like GeorgiaBEST (Business Ethics Student Training) prepare high-school seniors for the workforce. 

2. For companies, investing in economic and workforce development is key to becoming world-class competitors. This mindset is shared by successful corporations around the world.

3. It is all about education, certification and globalization. These connections, provided through programs and incentives, are vital to prepare current employees and trainees for advanced education, skill certification, training and employment.

4. More programs and incentives that link secondary and post-secondary education with industries can provide opportunities for both graduates and companies.

5. The German vocational training model that is implemented by some German-American companies in the U.S., and especially in the South, has generated positive impulses throughout the nation.


These are some of the takeaways from the ‘Globalism in Today’s Workforce’, a conference organized by Auburn University’s Center for Governmental Services, which took place on May 29 at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta. More than 60 attendees gathered to address the chances and challenges pertinent to today’s global workforce. The symposium stressed the importance of the topic; and emphasis was placed on national and regional development issues that encompass education, certification and globalization of today’s labor market.

Speakers with a wide range of expertise in finance, government, intelligence, education, international business and education were present. GACC South Vice President Stefanie Jehlitschka was among the speakers on ‘Trends in the Global Marketplace”.

More information about the Globalism in Today’s Workforce conference.

Welcoming our Board of Directors 2014

Written by Dilara Ozgonenc

Our new Board of Directors was elected at the Annual General Meeting 2014 during the German Mittelstand – Southern SME Forum in Greenville, SC.

Martin Richenhagen, Chairman, President & CEO of AGCO Corporation was reelected as the Chairman of our Board of Directors.

Take a look at our board gallery in our office in Atlanta

We said goodbye to a few of our former Board Members and also welcomed new ones. A novelty is also the board gallery at our Atlanta office; the Board of Directors now decorates the halls in our lobby area, with each member having his/her very own portrait.

Special thanks to Badgepoint for providing us with reusable name badges.

Feel free to look at the new gallery at one of our upcoming events.

Buddy Bear Coming to Charlotte!

The Buddy Bear is officially coming to the Queen City!

Charlotte will soon boast another landmark – a colorful tribute to the city’s economic and cultural ties to the German community. The efforts to attain this public art gift were led by Kurt Waldthausen, former Honorary Consul of Germany in North Carolina.

Buddy BearThe project was sponsored by the Alemannia Society,
the German Saturday School, the German American Chamber of Commerce, the German Language and Culture Foundation, Kuehne & Nagel Inc., and Regina & Kurt Waldthausen. The group of donors also worked closely with the Arts & Science Council, Public Art Commissioner Suzanne Fetscher, and the McColl Center for Visual Art.

For the City of Charlotte, the gift is a great honor, since it is the only curated Buddy Bear in the U.S. The six foot tall, pastel-painted fiberglass statue is supposed to showcase Charlotte’s cultural as well as economic relations to Germany. It will be installed in front of the main branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. And, the bear’s big smile also resembles big history: Mecklenburg County and Charlotte were originally named after Queen Charlotte from Meckleburg Stewitz in Germany.

The designer, Sharon Dowell, was selected among 11 local artists to paint the sculpture. She was inspired by the German Queen and her love for botanical aesthetics, which she used as her imageries. The dogwood flower, the state flower of North Carolina, is also incorporated in the design.

In March 2014, Dowell was flown to Berlin to paint the sculpture at the United Buddy Bears’ headquarters, and the ‘bear from Berlin’ then made its journey to uptown Charlotte. On June 10, 2014, the Buddy Bear will finally be installed.

More information will be posted soon on the GACC South – NC Chapter’s event site.

Buddy Bear in local media:

International ‘Buddy Bear’ art project heading to Charlotte – Time Warner Cable News, May 15, 2014
SHARON DOWELL’S BUDDY BEAR DESIGN WINS – Untied Buddy Bears, March 26, 2014
Buddy Bear art sculpture approved by Charlotte City Council – Charlotte Business Journal, February 24, 2014

Dialogue and Differences: German Trainees Encounter Vocational Training in the U.S.

Impressions from the trainees’ visit to the Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VW) plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a roundtable discussion on vocational training, and the potential of German-American trainee exchanges.

On April 28, the group toured the VW plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, two hours North of Atlanta. This trip was meant to give the trainees a glimpse of German-American manufacturing and connect them with trainees at the plant. In the U.S., Volkswagen is widely regarded as a pioneer in the field of vocational training, and their pilot dual program “German style” has made national headlines. Their inaugural class of apprentices graduated in 2013.

The group in front of the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“I was really surprised by the big organizational differences in their training program, compared to ours in Germany. It is surprising that we finish with the same certificate, even though the path to it is structured so differently,” states Sandra Bittner, who is currently completing an eight-week internship at the GACC South. The differences she is referring to range from duration, salary, college credits and vacation to the overall acceptance of vocational training in Germany compared to the U.S.

There are, however, also distinct similarities. The mechanical training workshop, or “Lehrwerkstatt”, was identical to the one that companies in Germany use. Mr. Ilker Subasi, the Volkswagen Academy Head of Training, Mr. Albert Graser, Technical Training Specialist, and four American trainees greeted the German group at VW’s on-site Academy. The group exchanged views and personal experiences as trainees. They also discussed the fact that in Germany, a good traineeship is taken for granted, whereas in the U.S., training with a company is still largely seen as a means to secure a job.


Dr. Oliver Schmidt, the Program Coordinator at the Joachim Herz Foundation, the trainees from Bavaria meeting with the American trainees and trainers at the VW Academy in Chattanooga, TN.

The direct exchange with their American counterparts allowed the trainees from Bavaria to realize how far they have come since their arrival in early April. They have learned a lot, not only about the people and the respective cultures, but also about themselves and about what they could accomplish with their training.

On April 25, a roundtable discussion on the topic of vocational training and trainee exchanges was hosted by Arnall Golden Gregory LLP in Atlanta. Tycho Stahl, Partner at AGG and Dr. Oliver Schmidt, the program director for the Joachim Herz Foundation, said in their welcome notes that the key to a two-sided dialogue and understanding is the exchange of view, experiences, and practices. A program such as “Azubis Going USA” could help to increase awareness with the general public, the industries, and also among policy makers. The 38 guests discussed the next steps to implementing such a reciprocal exchange. Steady dialogue, they said, is of utmost importance when implementing and extending these programs.

On their own blog, the trainees share their experience in Atlanta.

Local media coverage of the program “Azubis Going USA”
Read: April 15, 2014 – U.S. Internships and German Apprenticeships Focus of Luncheon 
Read: April 11, 2014 – Atlanta Firms Provide Internships for German Apprentices