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Editor’s note: This story is one in a series exploring corporate partnerships with Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business.
A.P. Moller-Maersk, headquartered in Denmark, is the world’s largest container shipping company, serving more than 130 countries around the globe with 700-plus container vessels and more than 100,000 employees.
It also is one of the newer corporate partners with Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business, and the international logistics giant has wasted no time in making investments and student hires in a desire to lure some of Harbert’s brightest future business leaders.
“They have only been a partner for roughly a year. However, they have already made an indelible mark on the college,” said Edward Reynolds, Harbert’s corporate and foundation relations officer. “They are the first corporation to name a room in the Horton-Hardgrave Hall building.
“They also created an endowed scholarship for students in the Supply Chain Management program.
“Additionally, they hired more than 10 students for full-time roles, including their SAIL management training program,” Reynolds said. “We have ongoing discussions to explore ways we can continue to expand and strengthen our partnership for the future.”
The first Maersk vessel to “call port” in the United States was the Laura Maersk when she called Galveston, Texas, in 1913, according to the company’s history. “With the capacity to carry the equivalent [of] 325 containers, much has happened since the days of Laura Maersk and the ships of today [are] capable of carrying more than 20,000 containers.”
Auburn’s relationship with Maersk provides a career pathway to a reputable international company, Reynolds said.
“The relationship with Maersk is important, as it provides our college with the unique experience of establishing a partnership with a global company that had not previously pursued a college/corporate partnership,” he said.
Luke Elder, Harbert’s first graduate in its new supply chain master’s degree program, was one of Maersk’s earliest recruits in its partnership with Auburn.
“The Maersk SAIL program is a very unique program where they bring in a class of Auburn students, both graduate and undergraduate; where they have us come in, starting in the spring, after we’ve been hired in the fall,” Elder said.
“And for two hours a week,” he said, “we all get to meet, whether it’s virtual or in person, and get to really connect with one another while also learning the ins and outs of Maersk, and what we’re going to be dealing with upon our graduation, and then after that, starting full-time.”
Meanwhile with Harbert, one of his favorite memories before graduating from Auburn, Elder said, was going with fellow students on an international business trip to Puerto Rico.
“This was an incredible week where we got first-hand experiences at various businesses and organizations around the island,” he said, “including a port, which I really enjoyed as a future Maersk employee.”
Reynolds pointed to today’s business climate and supply chain demands as a good time for Harbert to help a company such as Maersk find the talent it needs, and vice versa with students and graduates finding intriguing opportunities with Maersk.
“The primary talent focus has been on supply chain management and our MBA candidates, who represent a variety of academic and professional backgrounds,” Reynolds said. “Given the company’s massive global footprint, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain talent is a pressing business need.”
Meanwhile, “students recognize the potential career impact of working for such a well-renowned brand as Maersk,” he said. “Additionally, the company provides career opportunities around the globe, which is highly attractive to students who aspire to venture beyond the safety net of their hometowns and Auburn University.”
Meredith Bradford, who serves Maersk as head of continuous improvement for North America, is herself an Auburn graduate, having earned in 2012 a Harbert College of Business degree in business administration/supply chain management.
“We have a history of hiring students on a one-off basis for the past 40 years, but most recently we’ve renewed our relationship in a more collaborative way,” Bradford said of the Harbert-Maersk partnership.
“I would say we’re getting more and more orange and blue blood into Maersk day by day,” she said with a smile.
Regarding recruiting events, internships, graduate and student hires, “we’re talking about double-digits,” Bradford said, “so 10, 20, 30 people at a time. And that’s an exciting spot to be.”
Her colleague Shushan Kallini, Maersk head of transformation, also has high praise for Harbert’s success.
“For these SAIL students,” she said, “from the start of us meeting them, there was something about them that we were like, ‘we like you!’
“I think for us as an organization, and similar traits of what Auburn has to offer, it’s really about the communication,” she said. “It’s about being personable.
“It’s about mirroring our core values against the Auburn Creed.”