Carmen Tariba: “Schiller made me very flexible and open-minded”
January 09, 2023
All Knowledge Areas
*Interview by Sonia Alegre, Schiller Alumni
Carmen graduated from Schiller Heidelberg in 1997 with a major in Business Administration and International Business. She developed a very successful career at Electrolux, where she worked as a marketing communications manager for several years. She later started teaching marketing courses at universities and discovered her passion for education which led her to set up her own school in 2000, Callidus Institute for Adult Learning, which specializes in teaching adults the skills that companies need for the future of work.
In this interview, she tells Sonia Alegre how Schiller made her open-minded and taught her not to judge people. She also highlights the experiential learning methodology as a crucial takeaway for her professional career.
Why did you choose Schiller for your university studies?
I went to the US for my last year of high school and when I came back to Europe, I wanted to continue my international education in English, so I went to the US Embassy in Zagreb to research American universities in Europe, there was no Google at the time! So, I found out about Schiller, and I was immediately attracted by the possibility of combining different countries and languages while studying for a degree in English.
What campus did you attend, and which one did you like best?
I started at the Strasbourg campus in the Spring of 1994. It was a small campus at the time, Strasbourg is not a big city, but it had a small community where everybody knew each other and that was very cool. There was not a big fluctuation of people, like there was in Heidelberg, where I did most of my degree. Heidelberg was the biggest campus and had the most different nationalities and two different buildings. Going from one building to the other to the different classes crossing the bridge was lots of fun, sharing cars or tram rides with Turkish, Finnish, Swedish, or Serbian classmates and friends. I was there for three years, and I loved the city and the campuses. Many of the connections I made there have been friends for life.
What did you like best about Schiller methodology and how do you see the education you received at Schiller now that you have your own institute?
What I liked the best that has served as well as inspiration for my institute of adult education was the practical side of it, the practical-oriented mindset. Learning the theory while you are doing it or putting it into practice is easier. The fact that the teachers had an active professional life, that they were not just academics but had the professional experience that they shared with us in class was a very unique add-on to our education. The practical side was crucial so that we were prepared for what later companies demanded. It not only helped me in my marketing career at Electrolux, but it also shaped how I see my own business now: I prepare adults for the jobs that companies are currently demanding, whether it’s in AI or industry 4.0 skills, or you name it, whatever skills companies need, I prepare the people so they are ready to start working in companies, just like Schiller prepared me to be a top marketing executive and now, an entrepreneur too. I saw the gap in the market, and I filled it in, just like Professor Dowley, whom I remember dearly, taught us. I took all his marketing courses and learned not only marketing skills but the vision he taught us to see a business opportunity and grab it. I also learned to be in touch with the market, just as I am in touch with the companies now to know what they need and prepare my students to work in them. I wanted to work closely with companies and answer their needs, and the needs of people who want to be hired, and we create courses to meet those two needs fast.
What other memories does Schiller bring to you?
Oh, I have a lot of good memories from my Heidelberg time, like the graduations in the Heidelberg castle, the Christmas balls, also in the castle, and memories from time spent with my classmates, Selma Tüncer, Christina Smith, Frederik Olsen, Andreas von Liechtenstein, Hrovje Seles, Tessa Noens and, of course, I remember Ziegler, our favorite bar. We went back before the pandemic with a few classmates from Schiller and the same bartender was still there! He recognized us, and we had some laughs remembering the good old times. I met so many people from so many different cultures and countries and learned to become very flexible too in my mindset and thinking. I became more open-minded and learned not to judge people, everybody is just the same. We always said that everybody is a citizen of the world and that we must change the world and make it better.
Would you recommend Schiller to your children?
Definitely, yes! I would do it again and I recommend it to everybody: so many people from so many countries speaking fifty different languages at the same time on campus is a wonderful experience that opens your mind and expands your heart. You realize the world is just one big village. It was a fantastic experience and, if my children want to choose an international career path, I will surely give them this amazing opportunity.