My name is Ferdinand Fingerhut and I joined Bayer Animal Health in September 2015 as an International Trainee for Production Management. I would like to share my initial experience as a trainee and give you an overview of the structure of the trainee program, which includes working in a variety of different units and some upcoming foreign assignments.
Why did you choose this trainee program?
The advert for the program at Bayer attracted me at once because of its focus on manufacturing and production-related workflows and the international component that it offered. Having the opportunity to get to know a global company like Bayer through a range of assignments, in different divisions and departments is very appealing. The program will be an ideal stepping stone for my future career at Bayer.
What experience did you have when you applied for the trainee program?
During my master’s studies in engineering with economics I learned a lot about the technical and business aspects of production workflows. I also spent a semester at Heriot Watt University in Scotland, which helped me broaden my intercultural skills by working in international project groups. An internship with a major automobile manufacturer gave me some initial experience in the area of production (maintenance). Then I spent a practical semester in the Lean Manufacturing unit at a manufacturer of drive and control technology in the United States, which strengthened my desire to work for an international company. In addition, while I was working on my practically oriented diploma thesis, I was able to gain some initial leadership experience.
After submitting my application via Bayer’s career portal, I was invited to a telephone interview. Then I was asked to attend a one-and-a-half day Assessment Center at Bayer Animal Health’s headquarters in Monheim am Rhein (near Bayer’s headquarters in Leverkusen). I was told immediately at the end of the assessment that I had been accepted for the trainee program, which I found very positive.
How would you describe your first few days at Bayer Animal Health?
My first week in Monheim was carefully planned with several “meet and greet” appointments so I was introduced at the start to key contacts. My new colleagues also gave me a very warm welcome. In the first week I was also introduced to my “buddy”, who helped me a lot at the start and was always ready to answer questions. As a trainee, I have also been assigned a mentor, a member of the management team in Product Supply, who shares valuable experience on leadership and strategy issues with me. Together, we also discuss aspects related directly to my field.
What happened in the following months?
In the first few months I gained good insights into the processes that are managed from Animal Health headquarters. The opportunity to work on various product issues in Quality Assurance, Supply Chain Management and Operational Excellence while contributing my own ideas has been particularly helpful. I am steadily extending my network and getting to know people which may prove to be very helpful later in the program. I am gaining experience by working in various departments and I will be attending training courses in the Bayer Academy. This additional training will help me develop leadership competencies and provide training directly related to my specialist area.
Looking ahead, what else is scheduled for you during the trainee program?
Following my time in Monheim, I will be spending six months at our largest production site in Kiel, Germany. My work there will include production-specific aspects of day-to-day operations and working independently on projects. During the program, there are also plans for an assignment in the Consumer Health Division at a site in the United States. I am also looking forward to spending some time at other Animal Health production sites outside of Germany. So I still have many exciting days ahead of me as an International Trainee for Production Management.
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