The project gives you a high level of responsibility, and it grants you enough flexibility to propose creative solutions, therefore the expectations are high. It is a great challenge to use all your skills and learnings from university or from previous experience.
It is a culture that assigns the correct value to data and makes decisions based on that data. This culture requires, among other skills, good data mining and analysis, logical reasoning and assertive communication.
Working with senior management
The opportunity to work directly with senior managers and decision makers is very helpful. First, you have the chance to understand their challenges and concerns regarding their business responsibility. Second, you get the opportunity to work together on developing solutions that will have a real impact on the organisation. Third, you have the chance to work with different senior managers during the trainee programme, which gives you a better perspective on the similarities and differences in their leadership styles.
The characteristics of a trainee
In my experience, trainees come with different backgrounds, but in general you can find these characteristics in trainees: eagerness to take the lead, curiosity to explore the unknown, fast-learning, can-do mentality and flexibility.
My first project was at Nemho, the R&D organisation for the group’s material technology companies. My task was to build a business case framework that gives a clear structure for how to build and understand business cases for R&D projects. I was also responsible for the implementation, which required creating an easy-to-use tool and the training on how to use it. Finally, I was in charge of the setup of the business process and workflow that ensure the correct tracking of new and updated business cases, as well as the monthly reports that summarise the main findings.
I really enjoyed my first project, for multiple reasons. Firstly, I had a large amount of responsibility and space to come up with solutions and discuss them with stakeholders, and I was in charge of the implementation. Secondly, due to the nature of the project, I had to involve colleagues from several departments at the different companies across the group. It gave me a great perspective on the holding, and I was able to build a good network of colleagues right from the start. Thirdly, it was my first time working for the R&D department of a company and it helped me to understand our capability to innovate and create the future solutions for our customers, and I learnt about the daily rhythm of the department. Finally, I had the chance to have a real impact on the organisation. My project involved a lot of change management and I got sizeable learnings on how to approach these changes, for example, when a new process is implemented.
The trainee programme is not only a unique opportunity for those that want to have a sizeable impact in well-stablished companies, but it also provides a valuable network of great colleagues with similar ambitions, which I consider a big advantage.