Leadership team

Work and pray every day
Home / Leadership team


2006: Foundation of the network

The “Christians at Daimler” network was launched in 2006 by Dr. Helmut Keller. On November 4, 2006, he organized the first so-called Daimler Christians meeting in Weinstadt-Beutelsbach with Martin Daum (now CEO of Daimler Truck) as guest speaker. Since then, these meetings have been held annually in November with different speakers and are becoming increasingly wellknown.


2017: Helmut Keller enters partial retirement

In August 2017, Helmut Keller entered the passive phase of partial retirement. The two prayer groups he had led until then were seamlessly continued by Hannes Ackermann and Reiner Maul. However, he continued to coordinate the ‘Christians at Daimler’ network, maintain contact with the prayer groups, and organize the Daimler Christian meetings on his own until the end of his partial retirement in February 2019.

2019: Start of the handover process

The increasing workload, especially in the organization of the annual Christian meetings, as well as the fact that Helmut Keller was no longer in active working life as of March 2019, led him to the decision to gradually hand over the leadership responsibility for the network and to distribute the tasks on several shoulders. The year 2019 was therefore the beginning of a successive handover process of the management responsibility and tasks to a team of several people.

Very helpful for the handover process was that for years there had been a group of colleagues who met regularly outside the company to pray for the company and the people working in it (see menu item History, section “Regular meetings outside the company”). For this purpose, they met from 1992 to 2012 with Günter Kroll, from 2013 with Helmut Keller and later also with other participants during the year. In the weeks before the annual Christian meetings, these gatherings became more intense.

First leadership team in 2019

In 2019, six people participated in these privately held meetings, namely Hannes Ackermann, Helmut Keller, Markus Kleppe, Josef Kurz, Marcel Mast and Benjamin Orschel. Since these all led a prayer group in the company and were wholeheartedly behind the vision of the ‘Christians at Daimler’ network, this was the best basis to delegate the individual areas of responsibility and tasks to them. Hannes Ackermann agreed to take over the coordination of this so-called core team.

2021: Exit of Josef Kurz and Markus Kleppe

Josef Kurz, who had already retired in mid-2015, announced his departure from the core team at the beginning of 2021, and Markus Kleppe also officially left the management team at his own request during a core team retreat on April 17, 2021. The background to Markus Kleppe’s departure was that he had resigned from Daimler in order to complete a theological degree with the aim of subsequently taking on a full-time pastorate in a congregation. Markus Kleppe’s last appearance as a core team member was at the ‘Next Level’ retreat on June 26, 2021 (see section after next). From then on, the core team briefly consisted only of the four members Hannes Ackermann, Helmut Keller, Marcel Mast and Benjamin Orschel.

Leadership team ′Christians at Daimler′ in June 2021


The ‘Christians at Daimler’ network grew rapidly over the years and by mid-2021 already comprised approximately 1,400 members, all of whom were employed at the Daimler company. In the meantime, numerous Christians from the worldwide development, production, and sales locations had also joined. The annual Daimler Christian meetings also enjoyed increasing popularity. As a result of the additional livestream offering, the number of participants grew to 650 at the 15th meeting.

Status quo of the network in June 2021

However, the positive development of the last few years was accompanied by an increasing coordination effort for the administration and maintenance of the worldwide network as well as the organization of the annual events. More and more work also had to be done during the year, such as maintaining contact with the networks of Christians from other automotive and supplier companies (CAI network). With the current (only) 4-member core team, the tasks were no longer feasible in the long term.

Number of participants at Daimler Christian meetings from 2006 to 2020

Number of prayer groups from 2006 to 2021


For these reasons, the leadership team met for a one-and-a-half-day retreat in Weinstadt on April 16 and 17, 2021. A vision was developed, goals were derived from it, and thoughts were given to the realignment of the network. Furthermore, each member of the management team was assigned an area of responsibility and the complex tasks were distributed accordingly (see organizational structure in the next section).

The team agreed on the goal: Christian faith should be actively lived not only in the private sphere, but also (and especially) in the company.

From the brainstorming points collected

  • daily
  • at work
  • through regular prayer
  • in unity among each other
  • in worldwide networking

finally developed the slogan

Slogan of the network


Retreat ‘Next Level’ in June 2021

Under the motto ‘Next Level’, a meeting was held in Weinstadt on June 26, 2021, to which all prayer circle leaders and other colleagues close to the network from the greater Stuttgart area were invited. The aim was on the one hand to inform about the vision, the goals and the new orientation of the network including all sub-areas, which had previously been worked out in the leadership team, and on the other hand to take up suggestions and thoughts of the participants and to motivate them to cooperate. The following picture shows the distribution of tasks in the core team presented at that time.

Organizational structure

Entry of Yahkub Bugday

As a result of the ‘Next Level’ retreat, Yahkub Bugday was recruited as a permanent member of the core team in late summer 2021. At that time, Yahkub Bugday was a member of the ‘Lean Agile Center of Excellence’ at Mercedes-Benz. As a gifted volunteer preacher, he carries out various pastoral ministries in Christian congregations in his spare time. In the fall of 2021, he took over the function of ‘Spiritual Leader’ in the leadership team and also contributes to the leadership team in an advisory capacity.

Leadership team ′Christians at Daimler & Benz′ in autumn 2021

Another positive ‘fruit’ of the ‘Next Level’ retreat was that Johannes Weiss has since been the interface to the CAI network (Christians in the Automotive Industry). In November 2022, he had himself elected as the second Chairman of the Board of the newly founded CAI Association.


2021: Split-up of the Daimler company

In December 2021, the Commercial Vehicles division was spun off from the Daimler company and listed on the stock exchange as the independent ‘Daimler Truck Holding AG’. In addition, on February 1, 2022, ‘Daimler AG’ was renamed ‘Mercedes-Benz Group AG’.

Christians at Daimler & Benz

There was never any question of splitting the network into two separate networks because of the company split. As before, the network should unite the Christians of both companies. Therefore, in a closed meeting on April 9, the core team made the decision to rename the network ‘Christians at Daimler’ to ‘Christians at Daimler & Benz‘. The additional slogan ‘United in Jesus Christ‘ was intended to make it visible to the outside world that the network still unites the Christians of both companies.

In choosing the new name ‘Christians at Daimler & Benz‘, abbreviated to ‘CDB‘, the following three arguments in particular were decisive:

  • It contains the names of the two founding fathers Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz.
  • It consists of one part each of the two new company names Daimler Truck and Mercedes-Benz.
  • It differs from the previous network name only by the addition ‘& Benz‘.

Furthermore, it was decided to call the annual Christian meetings ‘Christian Meetings under the Star‘ in the future.

Ilyas Yildiz – the interface to Daimler Truck

Although the core team now consisted of five members, they all belonged to Mercedes-Benz AG. It was therefore important to expand the core team to include a representative from Daimler Truck Holding AG. Fortunately, Ilyas Yildiz from the Truck division was recruited as a further core team member soon after the company split. Ilyas Yildiz was employed as an expat at the ‘Detroit Diesel Corporation (DDC)’ in Detroit (Michigan/USA) from 2016 to August 2018 and founded the first prayer group there. On April 9, 2022, he took part in a closed meeting of the core team for the first time and since then has been the interface of the network ‘Christians at Daimler & Benz’ to Daimler Truck and coordinates the prayer circles there.

Leitungsteam „Christen bei Daimler & Benz“ im Herbst 2021


New Info Flyer

Already at the team retreat in April 2021, the decision was made to create a new information flyer that graphically illustrates the objectives of our network. After numerous design revisions, the flyer was finalized during the team retreat on 9 April 2022 – initially without the praying hands. Shortly before the 18th Christian Meeting on November 11, 2023, the flyer was revised by adding the new logo – two praying hands – in the background of the flyer. Special thanks go to Heidi K. and Christian M., who were largely responsible for the design of the flyer.

Front side of the flyer

Back side of the flyer

Logo of the network

At the turn of the year 2022/2023, Hannes Ackermann had the initial idea for an appropriate logo of our network. In keeping with the slogan ‘work and pray | every day’, the logo proposal was based on two praying hands. The first draft envisaged using the Mercedes star as the basis and replacing the three-pointed symbol inside the ring with the praying hands. However, in order not to infringe the trademark rights of Mercedes-Benz, the surrounding ring was omitted. The leadership team of the network finally decided on the logo shown below.

Logo: Praying hands