My name is Dieter Pfeifer, and I have completed the Bayer International Trainee Program in the field of Procurement. I would like to use this blog to pass on all the personal insights I gained over the 24-month training period to anyone else who may be interested in the program.
Motivation and application
During my Business Studies at the Universities of Mannheim and Maastricht, I developed an interest in the concept of supply chain management. One of the main features of this idea is that it takes into account value chains across all the companies involved in a process, as opposed to focusing on the internal chain within a single company. The strategic role played by Procurement in linking the value chains was what drew me to a career in this field. At the time, Bayer had just launched its International Procurement Trainee Program. Following an assessment center and a few rounds of interviews, my adventure began at Bayer CropScience in 2012.
From white-collar to blue-collar – an overview of the stops on a trainee’s journey
As in any new job, I had to pick up a lot of new vocabulary when I first started. Taking a glance at the organizational diagram, I saw that there were two types of sourcers (buyers): “white-collar” and “blue-collar”. But this wasn’t intended as a reflection on their own fashion choices – the keyword here was “user”. For example, technical equipment is usually required at production sites, where the workers wear blue work clothing. Office materials, on the other hand, are generally used by staff with smart suits and white shirts – it’s as simple as that. Next I discovered that there were PUSH and PULL sourcers, who handled our procurement strategies for chemicals and packaging. But I won’t trouble you with the details of this terminology – suffice to say that we don’t push and pull our suppliers around!
The first five months of my trainee program were spent in the Performance and Project Management department of Procurement at the Bayer CropScience headquarters in Monheim. During this time, I provided support for the global launch of a reporting tool, and also helped to bring an external service provider on board. Our international team discussed and decided on country-specific requirements, held training sessions and was involved in a variety of change management activities.
This was followed by a six-month posting in Global Procurement for Logistics Services, where my main role consisted of helping out with the bidding process for air and sea freight (bid analysis, preparation and follow-up work for negotiations, running e-auctions). My next posting was at the Bayer Healthcare Headquarters in Leverkusen, where I spent four months providing support for the introduction of a training and development platform for Procurement. I then spent two months in Technical Procurement at the Dormagen production site – the largest Bayer CropScience site in the world – before embarking on a three-month overseas assignment at CropScience’s USA headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina. After almost a year and half of working with a global perspective, the experience I gained from being at the local level was invaluable. Speaking to my colleagues and discovering their process for the procurement of raw materials, I learned how important it is to consider national-level conditions when developing global procurement strategies. In addition to the technical insight I gained, I was also grateful for the friendly, open approach of my American colleagues, who made my stay in the USA a great experience. Here are a few snapshots of how I spent my days off in the USA:
Beach in the harbor town of Charleston, South Carolina
Following in the footsteps of the Wright Brothers: At the start of the 20th century, the Wright Brothers launched their first glider flight from this very spot, making them pioneers of aviation. (Outer Banks, North Carolina)
After my stay in the USA, I spent the last three months of my trainee program in Global Raw Materials Procurement back at the Monheim headquarters, where I was able to use my experience from the previous two years in implementing procurement strategies for some of our strategic chemicals.
My time in the trainee program provided me with an extensive insight into the global procurement processes and organizational structure at Bayer. The variety of different perspectives offered by the rotations through different departments gives trainees a great overview of the company, often allowing them to supply useful feedback and input to their colleagues. During my own trainee period, I found that my comments were received very positively. In general, too, I always felt like everyone trusted in me, and I was left to work on sub-projects independently from quite an early stage of the program. The challenges provided me with great motivation, and the network I built across different countries and subgroups made my life a lot easier after completing the training program. With the program behind me, I recently accepted a role as Global Sourcer for Logistics Services at Bayer CropScience. I look forward to the new challenges this will bring.
All in all, the last two years were a great experience, and I can wholeheartedly recommend the Bayer International Procurement Trainee Program.
This report was written by Sven. On this blog Bayer employees from different subgroups and service companies tell you about their personal experiences. So you can get a little insight into the company. Why are we doing this? Please visit our Facebook-Blog.
This post is also available in: German