Friday, May 18, 2007

Uli Schmid-Maybach: Maybach Foundation - Tamar Alexia Fleishman

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to Uli Schmid-Maybach -- who called from Germany -- about all of his philanthropic and business ventures. Uli is the great-grandson of Dr. Wilhelm Maybach, who with business partner Gottlieb Daimler, developed the first Mercedes car. Wilhelm was orphaned at the age of 10. Drawing and making designs in a progressive orphanage, he was discovered and mentored by Daimler, which not only changed his life, but also the world. This is why the Maybach family is so in tune with the concept of mentoring: they know it works.

The very charming Uli described how he had just been a part of the Milliken Conference, piloting a unique medical component to the mentoring program. "We're scrambling to do the follow up!" he exclaims. They are involved in an AIDS project in Uganda, as well as finding medical leaders who are doing post-doctoral work. He is also starting a photography mentoring program that will bring together Israelis and Palestinians. Another program involves architecture to bring together Americans and Middle Easterners. Their main mentoring program seeks out young people - ages 15 to 24 - who are disadvantaged (orphaned like Wilhelm Maybach, handicapped, etc.) or from developing countries. "Somebody has to take an interest in that person. It's the luxury of connecting," Uli points out.

Uli has a chemistry background and an MBA from the prestigious Thunderbird School of Global Management. I wondered what type of family pressures he might have had in picking a career. "You know, my family's values are very strong... and modest. Even though there are Daimler-Chryslers that are $400,000, I am in the market for a Prius, myself. It's socially responsible. My parents were pro education. Out of the 4 kids -- 2 boys and 2 girls -- there's a sculptor, a photographer, artist, and me. My great-grandfather and grandfather never even owned an automobile."

Uli Maybach uses the latest technology in his efforts: "There's a lot of software! We're looking different software packages for outreach. It's hard to automate that, the personal touch is still needed. But we are training people to use Sales Force and Tapestry.

The Maybach family also owns a winery in the Napa Valley with the brand name, "Materium". "We just had our first production, very small, very premium. Less than 500 cases. It's half gone! My brother in involved, too. But I'm involved with the numbers and contracts."

The Maybach Family Foundation is has been working through Daimler-Chrysler in sponsoring the Cannes Film Fest. I asked Uli about that. "With our model, we look for where those people gather." The foundation will be working with Quincy Jones on some projects. Uli points out that The Maybach Family Foundation working in tandem with a corporation for philanthropic purposes may be the first partnership of its kind.

I asked Uli what type of business ventures he'd be involved with if not for the foundation. "Before getting into this project, I was into real estate - sustainable, green projects. I see that people are willing to pay a premium for smart design, environmentally conscious development. I get a great deal of satisfaction from that. I would probably start doing that in California, where we have rose-colored glasses on the coast!"