My name is Melanie Kakies and I am enrolled in Bayer’s Global Supply Chain Management Trainee Program. In this blog I would like to give you an insight into how this program is designed, which tasks I have been able to perform during my assignments and share my thoughts and impressions on the program as an entry option into the Bayer world.
At the time I was about to finish my studies, I was certain about starting off my career in the area of Supply Chain Management (SCM). However, during my Master’s degree in SCM and Transportation, I touched on many diverse aspects of this subject area and I was not entirely sure which kind of job I would like to pursue once I embarked on my professional career. That’s why I decided a trainee program which would allow me to look at the Supply Chain from various angles was the perfect opportunity to identify my desired job profile.
Application & entry into the program
I applied online via Bayer’s Global Career Portal. The online application was followed by a telephone interview to discuss my background and experience with a senior Bayer supply chain manager and a colleague from Human Resources. Around three weeks later I received an invitation to the Assessment Center, which took place in Monheim. The aim of this assessment was to see during various presentations, case studies and group discussions whether my profile (professional and personal) matches Bayer’s requirements for this position. I really appreciated that Bayer employees involved in the supply chain organization at the various divisions and sites attended and thus were able to identify strengths as well as development areas of all applicants in a very detailed manner.
The two-year trainee program is split into five blocks which are divided into three to six months long assignments undertaken at different Bayer sites worldwide. The contract for SCM trainees offers a unique opportunity to get first-hand experience in the various divisions and areas of the company, namely: Pharmaceuticals, Consumer Health, Animal Health, Crop Science as well as Corporate Functions and Bayer Business Services. Variety is guaranteed!
My Assignments – Leverkusen, Basel, Grenzach, Singapore
My first assignment lasted four months and was at Corporate Supply Chain in Leverkusen. There I was introduced to the Bayer supply chain world and its related functions such as Global Master Data and Product Supply Controlling. I learned about specific challenges and projects in global transport and warehousing as well as about reporting structures and Key Performance Indicators which are used worldwide throughout the organization. The Bayer ‘Supply Chain Academy’ also formed part of this onboarding phase and was a good opportunity to relate the theoretical knowledge from university to the companies’ processes.
As a temporary member of the global warehousing team, I supported a project on the distribution network design for our healthcare products in Asia Pacific. This included a lot of data collection and analysis as well as country alignment. Overall this assignment formed a very essential basis for my upcoming tasks.
For my second work assignment I moved to Grenzach, close to the Swiss border. There, I started off in the Supply Management Europe department in Basel. As the Consumer Health headquarters is based in Basel, I had the opportunity to familiarize myself with the broad spectrum of products and understand the business model of this division in our daily operations. I was part of the team which is responsible for managing Bayer internal manufacturing sites. I learned about and got involved in the supply chain planning cycles, including the demand review, the supply review as well as the part where it comes together in the sales and operations planning. This offered me a great chance to learn about how demand allocation works, how bottleneck management is performed and what the daily tasks (and struggles) of the operational teams look like. I supported the team with the implementation of new reporting structures for potential supply risks as well as financial and service KPIs. After three months in Basel I started at the production site in Grenzach, where the majority of our portfolio consists of Bepanthen products. I worked on establishing an automated optimum sorting of orders per line during a monthly planning cycle, to minimize set-up times. The aim of this sorting heuristics is to help increase capacity utilization and further contribute to stability in the planning process. This was a very operational task which required a great deal of alignment between the supply managers, pipeline managers and the mechanics working on the lines.
For my third assignment, it was time for me to make a global move and join the Regional Supply Chain Management Asia function of the Pharmaceuticals division in Singapore, which is responsible for China, Japan and the Asia Pacific region. During this time I got to learn first-hand about the role of a regional distribution center as well as about late nationalization and postponement processes. One of my main tasks during this assignment was to support a tender on warehousing and distribution activities for the region. This included a deep dive into commercial terms and existing warehousing and distribution costs, contracts and activities in order to engage into negotiations with distributors. My job involved a lot of communication with colleagues from all countries in the Asia Pacific region. I really enjoyed this as I not only learned about business processes but also enlarged my cultural and interpersonal horizons on a daily basis as well. Moreover, this project also included a lot of interaction with supply chain adjacent functions such as Procurement, Quality, IT or Health, Safety and Sustainability and therefore proved to be a fully packed learning experience for me.
Coming soon: Monheim & new perspectives at Bayer
My next assignment will be in the Crop Science division in Monheim, where I will support the SC risk management team and will also be involved in projects on SC simulation such as multi-echelon inventory optimization.
After completing the trainee program with Business Services back in our global headquarters in Leverkusen, where I will be gaining an insight into the Order-to-Cash operations, I look forward to further widening my expertise in a permanent position in the Bayer supply chain organization, either in one of the business divisions, or in the corporate SC function.
In my opinion there is hardly any other chance to experience and actually work in so many different supply chain roles, meet such a number of interesting people and get to know so many different Bayer sites during such a short period of time as in the trainee program. Therefore, I see this time as an extraordinary opportunity to further develop myself and discover what parts of SCM I am interested in and how I can contribute to the organization the most.
This post is also available in: German