Hi, my name is Nico and I was born in Germany. Before joining the Internal Audit department at Bayer in 2015, I lived and worked in different countries, including Croatia, the UK and China. No function other than Internal Audit would have provided me with comparable operational and strategic business insights at such a young age. In this blog entry, I would like to describe how I started at Internal Audit as a trainee and reveal why I would not hesitate to do it all over again.
My journey in Internal Audit actually began two weeks before the first day of my trainee program. I received a call and was informed that after five days of quick onboarding I would go to the US for three weeks. I could not have imagined a start like this – spending three rewarding weeks on a supply chain audit with a multicultural team. A buddy made sure my first experience and on-the-job training went well. During my 18 months of being a trainee, I conducted six different audits. These included general sales, marketing & distribution audits, a research & development audit, a procurement audit and compliance audits, covering five different countries and all the different businesses that make up Bayer.
Ideal combination & huge trainee-community
Additionally, I completed six different short-term assignments (each lasting approximately six weeks) in different functions to gain an initial insight into areas such as accounting, controlling, procurement and supply chain management. One of the highlights was an assignment in our Shared Service Center in Manila. The goal of the program is to learn about the different Bayer departments and then perform audits on the relevant topics in different Bayer country organizations. It was a great mix between learning on the job as an auditor and getting to know the diverse functions within Bayer. Besides that, I became part of Bayer’s huge trainee-community. Even today, three years down the line, I regularly meet up with my fellow former trainees, who have since become my friends, during work and outside of office hours.
From the kingdom in the desert to Vietnam in the living room of a shopkeeper
The 18 months passed in the blink of an eye and I continued working as a regular auditor and traveling across the globe to different Bayer sites. When putting this period of my life to paper, I was puzzled by the things I had experienced. In 2016 I went to Saudi Arabia, which I find remarkable as I never would have thought about traveling there. It is a country that is culturally completely different from what I have previously experienced. I will always remember enjoying the sunset at the mosque that appears to float on the water in Jeddah. Various times during the day, we stopped our meetings to let our colleagues pray and live out their religion. Overall, it was a rewarding experience. A different audit took me to Vietnam in 2018, when I went on a field trip to a distributor for our Consumer Health products. Sitting in the shopkeeper’s living room three hours away from Ho-Chi-Minh City, we talked about market developments, previous business experiences and our personal lives. Audit offers a great balance of getting close to our customers and products as well as gaining a detailed understanding of our strategies in different countries.
Networking & opening new doors
As auditors, our main job is to identify risks, safeguard Bayer’s assets on behalf of the Board of Management, act as a trusted advisor and advise the auditees/countries on how to improve processes. Our auditing process consists of interviewing different stakeholders, understanding the processes, analyzing data to identify potential areas of improvement and gaps in our control framework. The results of our audits are always discussed with top management, which involves networking and regular dealings with decision makers, besides opening up potential future career opportunities.
The typical auditor?
From auditing different areas, I gained a holistic understanding of business and processes, which provided me with the fundamental tools for starting a career in management. Besides auditing involving a great deal of variety in terms of content, the audit department is also very diverse from a cultural perspective. When they think about auditing, some people imagine an old, serious guy acting like a police officer in the company. This description could not be further from the truth. We are a young dynamic team based in four locations (Brazil, China, Germany, US). Some of us have come straight from university and others already possess experience in different areas. The team speaks different languages and there is an equal proportion of men and women. We have a great team spirit and work in an exciting, respectful atmosphere within our teams and with the auditees.
Traveling is an essential part of my job, which means I spend approximately 50 percent of my time in a different country. For me, the three weeks’ fieldwork we spend abroad for each audit is the most exciting element. While our time in the office is always challenging, we also have the opportunity to experience new cultures and use the weekends for traveling and sightseeing.
After having worked for two years within the audit department…
…I now lead audit teams of three to five members of staff, taking on a great deal of responsibility and demonstrating flexibility. Leading a team at my young age is accelerating my learning even further. Becoming part of the Internal Audit team at Bayer was the best decision I have made in terms of my personal development, on-the-job learning and exposure to a multinational company.
Now it is time for you to make your decision. If you are interested in gaining a broad insight into an international company, enjoy traveling and are open-minded and interested in other cultures, auditing is an ideal first step towards a career at Bayer. You will experience a wide range of areas and processes and get to know many countries and cultures.
This post is also available in: German