German, graduate in international trade to launch his career at BMW


As the class of 2022 prepares for the start, on May 6 and 7, college today will highlight how some of our senior graduates spent their time at CofC and what the future holds.

After graduation, Harrison Todda German and international trade double major, moves to Greenville, South Carolina, for a job at BMW. Working at BMW covers everything Todd wants in a career, and he got this role by focusing and taking advantage of the opportunities.

Todd developed a passion for German after four years of studying the language in high school. He applied to the College of Charleston because of its strong German program and was hooked when he visited during accepted student weekend.

“dr. Morgan Koerner is part of the reason why I came to the College,” the Honors College student says of the chair in the Department of German and Russian Studies. “He explained how the German program would take my language to the next level. I also met the teacher Lancie Affonso ’96 of Honors College, who has demonstrated an incredible passion for teaching and concern for students.

In his freshman year, Todd took two 300-level business German courses, which are conducted exclusively in German. Due to his strong language skills, he was able to study abroad in Berlin in the second semester of his second year. His trip, however, was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I feel lucky to have been able to spend three months in Berlin before having to return home to Atlanta,” says Todd. “At least I was able to connect with students and my amazing host family. Many of my classmates did not have the opportunity to study abroad at all. Also, I experienced something few others have – being abroad during a pandemic outbreak.

Todd completed his Berlin semester online at home to continue with CofC online.

“COVID made a lot of things jumble,” says Todd, whose entire junior year was online and then his senior year was back on campus. “The pandemic has accelerated the process of entering university. We really didn’t get the full CofC experience; we had to take advantage of what we could. I’m just grateful to my teachers for being flexible and engaged through it all.

As a specialist in international trade, Todd regularly contacted Mercedes Benz Vans about internships. He applies for a few technology-related internships and his perseverance is finally rewarded in August 2021 with a two-semester internship at Mercedes in the human resources department.

In September 2021, Todd received an email from Koerner encouraging him to apply for the BMW PACE (Professional Accelerated Cross-functional Experience) program, noting that he would be a top candidate. Todd submitted his resume and was quickly contacted about the interview process. At the time of the actual interview, Todd had just started his last international capstone course with Oscar Jerome Stewartassistant professor of management.

“Dr. Stewart is a great teacher who really helped students open their minds,” says Todd, who used some of Stewart’s key phrases during his 4.5 hour interview with BMW.

“Dr. Stewart had pointed out that compromises are a sign of a lack of managerial creativity – that accepting them is tantamount to admitting defeat,” he explains. BMW team, and I know it really caught their attention with my fluency in German and my internship at Mercedes. They liked that I had manufacturing experience.

Shortly after the interview in January, Todd received an offer to join the PACE program in July. During the two-year program, he will rotate every eight months to different departments based on individual skills and will have a mentor and supervisor every step of the way. He hopes to land roles where he uses his German and capitalizes on his interest in technology.

“BMW is clearly investing in its people,” says Todd. “I’m just happy to be part of the company’s CofC footprint.”


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