Start before you're ready - Insight of the founders of a pupils mentoring program

“Nothing good happens unless you do it.” Lilli Marlen Christ, Product Manager of Powertrain and CO² Strategy, and Zena Ballout, Digital IT Mercedes-Benz Cars Marketing & Sales Executive Assistant, have taken this Erich Kästner quote to heart.

They are both former Daimler trainees and founded the voluntary initiative “CorCit” in 2016. "CorCit" stands for Corporate Citizenship and is intended to provide individual support to pupils on their path from school to working life. Both founders are now taking the program into its third year.

Zena Ballout

How can I give back some of my happiness?

Everything begins with a meal together in the company restaurant. Lilli Marlen Christ is on a project assignment in China and Zena Ballout has just returned from Japan. Both have just started their careers and can hardly believe how lucky they were when they joined Daimler. Both are driven by the question: how can we pass on part of our happiness? Their intention: to help others start their careers. There is no suitable format yet, so the two former trainees are developing a concept themselves. This is how the idea for CorCit (Corporate Citizenship) - a pupils mentoring program - was born.

Lilli Marlen Christ

The idea

Said - done. The concept is ready, we're ready to go. Only mentors and mentees are missing. With the August-Lämmle-Gesamtschule in Leonberg and the organisation TeachFirst Deutschland there are two strong partners who support the program. The response of Daimler trainees in the Stuttgart area is also high and consistently positive - more than 60 colleagues would like to become active as mentors.
The kick-off event at the school is pure excitement! For the first time, Lilli and Zena will meet the students with their mentors - a motley mix of 8th-graders between the ages of 13 and 15. To get to know each other better, there are some games at the beginning. Afterwards, the participants exchange wishes and goals in a relaxed atmosphere and each mentee is introduced to their personal mentor. The "tandems" then decide individually at which intervals they want to meet. But there are also some joint activities, such as a trip to the Mercedes-Benz Museum or a closing event organized by the two founders of "CorCit".

Workshop team play

Great things often start with small things

With the pilot phase true to the motto "Start before you're ready" or "Done is better than perfect", the implementation is of course not yet completely error-free, but in the end everyone agrees: the program has to go into the second round! With the experiences and findings from round 1, the concept will be further sharpened and optimized. In round 2, another 20 mentor-mentee couples will be inspired by mini golf, visits to museums, learning math and football games. In this way, the mentors can convey vocational orientation and self-confidence to the pupils and motivate them for the school. The trainees are also enriched by many valuable experiences.

With their self-initiated and self-organized program, Lilli and Zena have created an opportunity to give back to others something of their happiness and to experience a lot of personal appreciation and joy. This year they are looking forward to round 3 and are curious to see which interesting tandem partners will be found this time.

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