German students assist with US forces processes

Max Schaaf (from left), Marie Wasem and Carsten Mengel, students at Hochschule Mainz, University of Applied Sciences, present the results of their consulting project on the optimization of the host nation recruitment process Jan. 8 at the Community Activity Center on Clay Kaserne.

Students from the Management Master’s Program at Hochschule Mainz, University of Applied Sciences, worked on three consulting projects for U.S. Army Europe and U.S. Air Forces in Europe as part of their Controlling and Consulting course and presented their results Jan. 8 at the Community Activity Center on Clay Kaserne.

The first presentation was about analyzing and optimizing the host nation recruitment process of U.S. Army Europe and U.S. Air Forces in Europe in Germany. The second group presented their analysis of the Army’s host nation employee dialogue program, the Mitarbeitergespräch, or MAG. The third presentation was about the Army’s Utility Tax Avoidance Program.

Frank Dünkelberg, human resources specialist with U.S. Army Europe G-1, Civilian Personnel Division, who is also a graduate from Hochschule Mainz, said he initiated the cooperation to promote host nation relations and to receive a fresh perspective on the division’s process of modernizing their host nation recruitment system.

Britta Rathje and Sven Fischbach, professors at Hochschule Mainz and instructors of the course, were happy to have their students work with the U.S. forces. To meet the requirements, UTAP and MAG were identified as two additional projects to have three in total for the students to work on.

The first group analyzed the German recruitment market and how to attract potential host nation employees. The bottom line was to “make it (the job offer) simple to find and easy to apply for,” said the students during their presentation. They recommended among other things paying for ads in an online job portal, improving the visibility of the Army host nation career page and speeding up the recruitment process in general. They strongly advised against the use of hard copy applications, which is the current practice.

The second group interviewed employees and supervisors, analyzed the MAG program and suggested ways to improve its value. At the moment, the MAG focuses on feedback and communication; the students suggested to use the Vision Of Internal Collaboration and Engagement format,  which adds the concepts of leadership competences, common objectives and individual development to the dialogue. The new format is supposed to make communication flow both ways, build trust and make sure goals and agreements are followed up on.

The third group focused on the UTAP program, which belongs to the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation. It ensures Soldiers and civilians, who live off post, do not have to pay value added tax on their utility bills. Since FMWR is the agreement partner to the utility companies, unpaid bills generate a high debt for them, the students said during their presentation.

They identified the main goal of the project being a debt reduction by 70%. To achieve this goal the group suggested to compare the utility companies and pick only the one with the best conditions, to have invoices, overdue notices and debt letters in English, and improve the registration form, among other things. The students already accomplished one subgoal. They convinced the utility company to provide all documentation in English.

“The project was a lot of fun,” said Annika Cronauer, who was part of the UTAP project. “It is a whole different experience from sitting at university and listening to theory. It is very cool to really look into a company, and the cooperation went very well. We got along well with everybody and received all the information we needed. ”

U.S. forces representatives, as well as Hochschule Mainz members, gave positive feedback on the cooperation. The U.S. Army Europe Deputy Chief of Staff Bill Williams thanked each student by handing them a certificate.

Chris Pittman, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden director of human resources and sponsor of the MAG group, said: “They did an outstanding job. It was a very good experience.”

“I can speak for the group. We had a very great semester and very great insights into the Army,” said Marvin Lenk, a member of the MAG group.

“Unexpectedly, this was one of the best projects that we have ever done. … We felt great hospitality and commitment. Maybe this was a good starting point for further cooperations,” said Rathje.