Corporate Insights: Berna Gunay Hora contemplates innovation and her development at Mercedes-Benz

Many CEMS alumni have chosen to build their careers with CEMS Corporate Partners. In this interview series, we explore the diverse career paths CEMS alumni have embarked upon within CEMS Corporate Partners. Today we meet Berna Gunay Hora, Senior Business Consultant with Mercedes-Benz.
Berna Gunay Hora

Cars are getting smarter. And it’s not just in terms of self-driving vehicles. Modern cars are being developed and engineered with astonishingly enhanced capabilities, connected to a digital ecosystem that permits drivers to do things like pre-heat their seats, open and close windows or start engines remotely and pre-configure complex navigation and vehicle location systems.

The seamless driving experience of tomorrow is being designed and delivered today by market leaders like Mercedes-Benz. That’s because this multinational automobile manufacturing behemoth, a CEMS Corporate Partner under the aegis of Mercedes-Benz Group AG (former parent company Daimler AG), is pushing the frontiers of innovation through its Mercedes me connect – a suite of app-connected services that enable owners to access vehicles from anywhere.

At the epicentre of this exciting work is the Global IT Solutions Center, which was established in the framework of Mercedes-Benz's global IT strategy, as part of Mercedes Benz Otomotiv ve Hizmetler A.Ş. in Istanbul. And one of the brains consulting on and managing major rollout projects here is CEMS graduate, Berna Gunay Hora.

Berna is a project management lead for Mercedes me connect and Mercedes me Store rollout and sales activities. It’s her remit to understand customer and retail journeys across a slew of priorities and a breadth of countries. From legal issues to customer messaging processes, via digital commerce, call centres and aftersales, Berna and her team are fully engaged in the smooth rollout of Mercedes me related front and back ends. It’s a role that keeps on her toes, she says, and deeply connected to the very latest trends and innovations in next-generation mobility.

“The automotive industry has always fascinated me, because of the deep interconnections it has in every aspect of our personal and professional lives. And then there’s the sheer speed of innovation being driven by companies like Mercedes-Benz,” she says. “Today, when we talk about the Mercedes-Benz brand, we do not only think about a luxury car in the traditional sense but also about the digital innovations, seamless experience, efficiency and sustainability that are offered with the vehicle.”

The innovation aspect was not, however, Berna’s initial conduit into the world of Mercedes-Benz. She was recruited into the company in 2015 by the Human Resources team, based out of Istanbul in her native Turkey.

“The HR team was looking for candidates with an international mindset and as a CEMSie, this was a good fit and a rewarding role for me. Over time though, I felt increasingly drawn to the more technical part of the company and specifically, the project management and consultancy side of the business. I wanted to be moving at the speed of change and this area of the company was particularly attractive to me.”

Making the shift to consultancy in this dynamic space felt “natural,” she says because of her business education background. It was still a “radical change” – but one that was wholly supported by her previous and new teams and managers, and by a corporate culture that is grounded in collaboration and learning.

“Wherever you go in the company, you’re encouraged to learn by doing and to seek out opportunities to grow. Underpinning this, there’s a culture of positive feedback – we’re constantly reminded to both give and receive feedback – that makes the environment safe and harmonious. We’re given the stretch opportunities to shift track and grow, and the support mechanisms to do so.”

Learning, growing and collaborating are core tenets of Berna’s working life within the Mercedes me ecosystem. Consultancy and project management of the company’s key projects in this space is akin to forming a bridge between the IT function and the business, she says, and a major aspect of her work involves taking solutions and blueprints out to different markets and countries, and addressing the road bumps along the way. These can be challenging, as different markets are prone to their own fiscal and legal environments, as well as payment methods. Key skills in this line of work are adaptability and attention to detail, Berna says.

“Working at the cutting edge of innovation and development in a multinational company, you really need to be able to bring detail orientation and then a certain flexibility and cultural awareness that helps you to find the common ground and the solutions – and to do so openly and in a spirit of collaboration. CEMS gives you a good grounding in this sense. The very structure of the CEMS MiM is such that you are exposed early to different cultures and styles in a way that is not judgmental.”

As such, CEMsies looking for a career in mobility and innovation would find Mercedes-Benz a “great fit,” she adds. Though there is no “golden formula” in terms of making the perfect choice of role or company coming out of full-time education. The best place to start is passion, says Berna.

“In my experience, job titles come and go and your career trajectory may take you in different directions. That’s why it’s so important to understand what it is that interests you and what your values are. Connect with your passion and take it from there.”

While she admits it’s great to have a “luxury brand on her CV,” the real pull of Mercedes-Benz is the pivotal role the company inhabits in shaping the future ofClassified as MB Internal mobility, while working for the considerations of all of its stakeholders – a drawcard that makes the company an ideal place to work, according to Berna.

“Having an ideal is great. And finding an organisation that aligns to your ideal is even better. But if you don’t get the dream job, or the dream organisation first time round, one thing I’d say is this: never be discouraged. Stick with it and find ways of developing your expertise wherever you go. Invest in your personal development, your learning – and keep getting out of your comfort zone!”


Berna Gunay Hora