Department of Languages

October 5th, 2022: Forum for German and Spanish in Latin American Business

The Spanish and German Programs in conjunction with the Department of Languages are pleased to announce a Forum for German and Spanish in Latin American Business to be held in the Hendrix Center Ballrooms A&B on Wednesday, October 5th.   This event, open at no charge to members of the Clemson University Community, brings together representatives of German Companies operating in Latin America.

The first session of this conference, broadcast via Zoom, will be a panel discussion “Opportunities and Investment of German Companies in the Gran Bajio.”    Representatives of the German-Mexican Chamber of Commerce, Robert Bosch, BMW Manufacturing and Draexlmaier Automotive will discuss the opportunities and appeal of investing and operating South of the Border.  Seating will be available in the ballroom for those wishing to attend on-site.

The second and final session will be an on-site only roundtable discussion.  Representatives of international organizations and German companies of our region with ties to Germany and Latin America, who will provide our students a chance to learn first hand about the German presence in our region, the truly international nature of business, as well as job and internship opportunities.  While we hope especially to reach students with Spanish or German ability all with an interest in international companies are welcome to join this session.  By pre-registration only.

For more information, please contact Lee Ferrell at



Forum for German and Spanish in Latin American Business Fall 2022

Wednesday, October 5, 2022, | 8:30 AM-12:00 PM

The Hendrix Center Ballroom at Clemson University

Sessions are presented via Zoom and on-site. See below for details.


This annual conference focusing on German companies in the US Southeast is held to inform our students about the diversity of investment in the US and Latin America and to provide networking opportunities for our students and attending companies.

The 2022 forum is held in conjunction with the Mexican Consulate-General in Raleigh.

Our thanks to Upstate International for their help in promoting this event.


A. Opening Remarks and Panel Discussion

This opening session will be presented via Zoom.  Students intending to attend the roundtable discussions should join these sessions on-site in the Hendrix Ballroom.

The opening remarks, keynote, and panel discussion can be viewed on Zoom.

To attend via zoom, pre-register here:

1. Welcome message 9:00-9:10AM (8:00-8:10AM CDMX)

Lee Ferrell, Principal Lecturer of German, Clemson University (5 minutes)

Claudia Velasco Osorio, Cónsul General of Mexico in Raleigh (5 minutes)

2. Keynote presentation 9:10-9:25AM (8:10-8:25AM CDMX)

Dr. Mónica Duhem, Chief of the Global Economic Intelligence Unit, Mexican Ministry of the Economy (15 minutes)

Foreign Direct Investment and German Foreign Direct Investment in an environment in Mexico and the Bajío

3. Panel discussion 9:25-10:40AM (8:25-9:40AM CDMX)

Mr. Thomas Meller, Office Director for the Bajio Region.  German-Mexican Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CAMEXA)

Mr. Christian Langstein, Chief Financial Officer Draexlmaier Automotive Group

Mr. Homero Lopez, Senior Buyer for Capital Equipment – Region Mexico
Robert Bosch

Mr. Carlos Gutiérrez, Head of Governmental Affairs in San Luis Potosi, BMW Mfg. Co.

B. Roundtable discussions

 On-site only.
To select companies to meet with, pre-register here:

This session features small-group discussions hosted by participating companies. This will provide a more personal perspective and connection for our students on various companies and organizations participating in and promoting trade and investment in Latin America. We also encourage our guests to discuss internships and job opportunities.

10:50-12:20PM (9:50-11:20AM CDMX)

Welcome,  Prof. Jae Takeuchi

Roundtable Discussions


Hosting Companies

  1. BMW: Garrett Bounds, Michelle Bounds
  2. Dräxlmaier Group: Ralph Schwarz, Head of Corporate communications;    Ms. Estefania Ocampo, Corporate Communications Media Specialist U.S.
  3. German-American Chamber of Commerce South: Thomas Kislat, Membership Manager
  4. Häring Precision: Nikki Bailey, Human Resources Manager;   Nathan Lindler, Production Manager
  5. Magna: Mr. David Meier;   Dennis Creekmore, Human Resources
  6. Michelin North America: Ms. Monica Johnson, Talent Acquisition Director
  7. SEW Eurodrive, Inc.: Rainer Neufeld,  Corporate Electronics Manager
  8. Robert Bosch: Craig Lockhart;  Chuck Purry, HR Manager – Anderson
  9. Rolls Royce: Heinz Oblaender, Director of Purchasing
  10. TRS  Staffing: Lauren Guthre,  Technical Recruiter;   Lindsey Carney, North American Training and Assessment Manager
  11. Upstate International: Tracie Frese, Executive Director
  12. Wetzel Services: Lish Choo-Simpson, language Manager; Laura Schmidt, German Language Program Director
  13. ZF North American: Christopher Ludwig,  Head of Materials Management North America – Division Electrified Powertrain




Conference Guests Profile

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Monica Duhem Delgado is an economist. She earned an MSc in Economics and Philosophy from London School of Economics and a PhD in Political and Social Sciences from Universidad Iberoamericana. Dr. Duhem has extensive experience in the Information Technology and Services industry and has promoted digital world as an enabling component for public problems.

During her work experience, she has collaborated with governments, Civil Society Organizations and the business sector in projects aimed at using strategic information generating and integrating data, and digital mechanisms for public policy and economic development. She is currently Head of the Global Economic Intelligence Unit at the Mexican Secretariat of Economy

Panel Discussion Speakers

Homero Lopez, Senior Buyer for Capital Equipment – Region Mexico,  Robert Bosch,


Responsible for sourcing capital investment machinery, heavy equipment, ​and production lines for Bosch Mexico plants. Completed a Bachelor in Science degree in Industrial Engineering and a Masters degree in Business Administration.

Twenty years of work experience in logistics and purchasing in a wide variety of industries, such as military-aerospace, healthcare, food, and automotive industries. In addition, leader of Bosch’s Diversity and Inclusion group “Hispanics @ Bosch” for the southeast area.


Christian Langstein,  Chief Financial Officer Americas, DRÄXLMAIER Group


Christian Langstein has been with the DRÄXLMAIER Group for more than 20 years and has held various management positions in the commercial area in Germany, Mexico/Nicaragua and the USA. Prior to being appointed CFO for the Americas, he was the head of Finance Mexico, head of Site Infrastructure Americas and head of Corporate Development Americas. Christian is very familiar with the Bajio region, having spent six years in San Luis Potosi (2006-2012) to support the expansion of the DRÄXLMAIER business operations in central Mexico. After moving back to the U.S. in 2012, he continued to travel frequently to Mexico to negotiate and oversee the various expansion projects in Matehuala, San Miguel de Allende, Valle de Santiago and Lagos de Moreno. A native of Germany, Christian graduated in 2004 with a degree in business (concentration on international banking and finance). He lives in Hendersonville, N.C. Away from work, he enjoys mountain biking, hiking and his all-time favorite sport: skiing.


Roundtables Company Profiles

BMW Manufacturing

Garrett Bounds – Body Shop Central Maintenance Manager

I studied Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University. Upon graduation, I worked for a non-profit in Buenos Aires, Argentina for 1 year. After returning to the US, I joined BMW Manufacturing through a 2-year rotational program entitled PACE (Professional Accelerated Cross-Functional Experience). After completing the program, I spent 6.5 years in vehicle testing and validation for interior content and two of those years were spent in Munich validating the earliest build phase of models that ultimately came to Plant Spartanburg. In 2019 I moved to our Body Shop Organization where I spent 3 years as the manager for the Body Shop Metrology team and have recently moved to lead the Central Maintenance organization.  I’m interested in talking with students about what makes employers attractive to them, how they envision using language skills in the workplace, and tools that they use to keep their language skills sharp.

Michelle Bounds, Body Shop Technology Steering & Production Improvement Manager

I currently steer the Body in White technology at Plant Spartanburg, focusing on budget, headcount, and production volume.  I have worked at BMW for 10 years and my career started as a college graduate in the 2 year rotational PACE Program.  I majored in Business and German at Wake Forest University, and then I focused my PACE rotations in the finance departments at Plant Spartanburg while still using my German language skills.  My career has mostly been in Financial Controlling and Long-Range Planning at Plant Spartanburg, but I spent 2 years working in Controlling for future models at the BMW Headquarters in Munich.


Robert Bosch

Chuck Purry

Craig Lockhar


German American Chamber of Commerce Southeast 

Thomas Kislat,  Membership Manager

Thomas is currently the Membership Manager with the German American Chamber of Commerce headquartered in Atlanta, GA. Thomas is from Germany. In this role he promotes commerce between Germany and the US. GACC South distinguished itself as an innovative and relevant service provider as well as a reliable partner in German-American business inquiries. Comprised of a highly qualified team of professionals, he supports companies by facilitating the following: market entry & business development, legal services, intern visas, recruitment, and startup guidance. He is engaging with existing members to learn about their operations, trends, issues and local business climate, to better tailor benefits of a GACC membership. He and his American wife have lived in Rome, GA since 2013 having chosen that small city when they returned from nine years living in Germany. Thomas graduated from the University of Leipzig in 2000 with a BS in American Studies. Fortune 500 Brunswick Corporation hired him and immediately sent him to Atlanta as Marketing & Sales Manager-USA for the Bowling and Billiards Division. During his four years in that position, he met and married his wife who announced that she wanted to be a fully “bi-cultural/binational” wife who wanted to live in Germany for a few years. (You can’t make this stuff up.) The newlyweds moved to Germany where Thomas worked for two well-known German enterprises. Previously, in his role at the Rome Floyd Chamber of Commerce as the director for Membership and Entrepreneurial Development he has successfully increased their membership by over 20% from 900 members to over 1100 members within 18 months. With his fiercely competitive approach, he handled complex situations from both a strategic and a tactical perspective. Thomas’ expertise in Marketing and vision for new opportunities led him to establish Forum on Ice as a highly effective economic generator for downtown in Rome, GA as it became a flagship holiday event-destination for Northwest GA. Before moving over to the Rome-Floyd County Chamber, Thomas spend four years with the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau as the Marketing Director of the Forum River Center in Rome. His work in the past five years has brought him to Metro Atlanta frequently where he has deep connections with the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Georgia Chamber, the Department of Economic Development, and the legislature, as well as several binational chambers and members of the diplomatic corps. Thomas is bilingual in German and English and has conversational knowledge in Russian, French and Spanish.



Ralph Schwarz,  Head of Corporate Communications

As head of Corporate Communications Americas, I oversee all aspects of internal and external communications for DRÄXLMAIER in Mexico, Nicaragua and the USA. A former intern with the company, I joined DRÄXLMAIER as communications specialist in 2006. I also worked four years as reporter/editor for Niagara Frontier Publications in Grand Island, N.Y. Born and raised in Germany, I transferred to the U.S. as a college student. I have a master’s degree in Print Journalism and bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Journalism/Mass Communication. At the roundtables, I would like to showcase the DRÄXLMAIER Group and provide insights how internships can help landing a full-time position after graduation.

Estefania Cano.  Corporate Communications Media Specialist U.S.

As Corporate Communications media specialist for DRÄXLMAIER in the U.S., I am responsible for developing digital content plans, strategies and campaigns on various online platforms. Before joining DRÄXLMAIER as an intern in January 2021, I worked as a marketing strategy intern for the University of Pec, Hungary, and advertising data analyst intern for La Universidad Francisco de Vitoria in Madrid, Spain. I was born in Puebla, Mexico, but moved to Greenville, S.C., in 2005. I have a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Multi-Media Communications. At the roundtables, I will share career advice, top-industry trends in the digital space, and the art behind creating premium interiors for luxury vehicles.


Haering Precision USA LP;

Nikki Bailey, Human Resources Manager

Nikki attended Anderson University where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology. A few years after receiving her Bachelor’s degree, Nikki found that she enjoyed the business and administration pathway, forgoing her original plan of pursuing her Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Nikki worked in Healthcare for over 10 years prior to joining the team at Haering Precision, managing both the central office and the medical billing office for a large physical therapy group. Transitioning from the healthcare field, Nikki did not have manufacturing experience prior to joining the team at Haering, but has been pleasantly surprised at the stereotypes that she has seen broken at Haering.  Nikki began as the HR Generalist at Haering Precision in Lavonia, GA in May 2021 and is overseeing the functions for the HR department, Housekeeping, Reception, and housing for international associates.  Nikki is currently pursuing her SHRM-CP certification for the HR Management role in Lavonia.

Nathan Lindler, Production Manager

Nathan attended both Tri-County Technical College and Clemson University to study Mechanical Engineering. While attending classes, he met a representative from Haering Precision who presented an opportunity for a dual study and training program in Germany. Nathan was amongst the first group of trainees from the US who went to Germany for this program. In addition to becoming fluent in German, Nathan developed his managerial skillset and knowledge while gaining a multitude of connections from all over the world during the three-year program. Due to the vast technical experience he obtained, Nathan was able to fast-track his career to become the Production Manager for Haering Precision USA less than four years after completion of the program. He oversees all technical operations for this location and maintains collaborative relationships with the Haering locations in Germany, Poland, China and Tunisia.


Magna, Cosma International

Dennis Creekmore, Sr. Human Resources Manager

David Meier


Michelin North America

Monica Johnson, Talent Acquisition Director


Rolls Royce Solutions, America

Heinz Oblaender, Director Purchasing

In my current role, I am responsible for leading the Purchasing and the Supplier Quality team of 50 + people incl. Sr. Managers, Managers and Buyers. I have been with the company since 2007 (2007-2009 Friedrichshafen, Germany, 2009-2010 Detroit, MI, since 2011 Aiken/Graniteville, SC). My professional background prior to Rolls-Royce Power Systems is five years with Xcellsis a Daimler/Ford joint venture at the time where I worked as Senior Manager Purchasing with emphasis on fuel-cell development projects. Prior to that I worked for MAFI-Transport Systems in Tauberbischofsheim, Germany which produces Roll-on Roll-off trucks. I studied Agricultural Engineering at University Hohenheim, Germany with concentration on the technical aspects such as gear boxes, diesel engines, harvesters, tractors. Furthermore, I completed a business administration degree (Technischer Betriebswirt) at the Fachhochschule Wuerzburg, Germany. Topics I would like to discuss during the roundtable session include what kind of exciting opportunities we are offering and what your ideas of an exciting workplace are.

Bryan Rehnlund, Sr. Manager, Strategic Purchasing

In my current role, I am responsible for a team of managers, buyers, and one tooling engineer which perform and support procurement of systems, services, and both direct and indirect materials for operations, aftersales, and field service in the US. I have been with the company full-time since 2010 (2007-2010 as a student worker and contractor). My professional background prior to strategic purchasing consists of materials management, physical logistics, inventory control, warehousing, supervision in operations, lean manufacturing, and leadership roles. I completed my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with concentration in Management from the University of South Carolina, Aiken while working at Rolls-Royce Solutions America.

Topics I would like to discuss during the roundtable session include opportunities in the manufacturingindustry, current supply chain obstacles, learning on the job compared to the classroom, and the benefits of diversification.


SEW Eurodrive

Rainer Neufeld


TRS Staffing (Fluor Corporation)

Lauren Guthre, Technical Recruiter

I work within the manufacturing and construction industries to find top-tier engineering candidates fill high-level roles across the country. Being a part of Fluor Corporation, TRS Staffing has extensive connections throughout the world to help companies find the best talent and help jobseekers find their perfect position! Being a graduate from Clemson’s German and Japanese Language departments, I have had the opportunity to utilize my degree to help students and graduates enter the workforce and begin the pathway to their dream job. I would love the opportunity to talk with students about what they’re looking for after graduation, and discuss how to navigate today’s job market.

Lindsey Carney.   North American Training & Development Manager

TRS Staffing Solutions is a subsidiary of Fluor Corporation, specializing in the placement of Engineers, Designers, Project Managers, and other technical professionals around the globe. Clients worldwide depend on our capabilities and expertise in providing personnel, payroll services, and vendor management support.


Upstate International

Tracie Frese, Executive Director

What drives a person’s curiosity towards places of the world? For Tracie it was her parents’ old movies of the Taj Mahal and pictures of Europe. Directing UI gives Tracie the chance to channel that childhood wonder and help the community engage in cultures and opportunities they may not otherwise experience. Previously the Director of the Columbia World Affairs Council, Special Assistant to the South Carolina Secretary of State for Special Projects and the Public Charities Division, Tracie brings nonprofit leadership, as well as a drive to advocate for global awareness, to the Upstate.

Education: BS in Construction Science and Business Management, Clemson University


  • US Global Leadership Coalition SC Advisory Committee
  • Global Competitiveness Council Member
  • Riley Institute Diversity Leadership Fellow
  • Past National Board of Directors, World Affairs Councils of America
  • Past Board Member of South Carolina Association of Non-Profit Organizations

Round Table Discussion Topic possibilities:

  • Global Impact Issues and grass roots education—removing the political bias
  • International investment impact in the lives of Upstate residents and our local economies
  • Who is the “other”? Diversity from below the surface
  • Cultural engagement and global education in underserved communities
  • Upskilling your resume with foreign language skills and cross cultural training
  • Hospitality—moving from sweet tea and invitations to church to a deeper connection
  • Re-thinking non-profit models for impact and sustainability


Wetzel Services (

Lish Simpson,  Language Manager

I’m the Language Manager at Wetzel Languages. My educational training is in English Education, English Literature, and Applied Linguistics. Professionally, I’ve been involved in various educational roles for Teaching English as a Second Language, including starting an English teaching organization in China and being a classroom teacher to adult refugees in New York. The services that Wetzel Languages offers are vital. We recognize that successful cross-cultural social and business relationships require training, so our goal is to partner with the expat community to provide professional cross-cultural and linguistic training in English, German, and Spanish.

Lauren Schmidt, German language program coordinator


ZF North America      ZF in USA / Canada – Home – ZF

Christopher (Chris ) Ludwig,  Head of Materials Management North America – Division Electrified Powertrain Technology  Chris Ludwig, leads the regional functions of Program Purchasing, Supply Chain Management and Supplier Development through the transformation to eMobility. He has been serving in various regional and global ZF Purchasing functions since 2014. Prior to joining ZF he worked at Robert Bosch where he started his career in 2004. Chris holds a Masters of Business Administration from Clemson University (’03), a Masters in International Business from the University of Applied Science Mainz, Germany (’02) and a B.S. in Business Administration from Lander University (’01).

Discussion focus:

  • Language in Business – how to generate a competitive edge
  • Supply Chain in a VUCA world
  • Open for any questions
  • Internship opportunities.