My name is Julien Dennert and I was enrolled in the Global Trainee Program for Supply Chain Management within Bayer CropScience AG (BCS), the agro-chemical division of the Bayer Group. I would like to share my experiences from my time as a trainee and take the opportunity to convey a more personal impression of what it’s like to be part of this rather new initiative.
How did I get in?
I spent my last semester of my studies in Brazil and the end of my wonderful time as a student was coming closer. I was interested in the area of Supply Chain Management, but not sure about in which part of the supply chain I wanted to work. That is why I was looking for a SCM trainee program to gain insights in various job profiles. At that time I was lucky that Bayer just launched such a program. After having applied, the following steps went surprisingly quick. My first interview took place in São Paulo and one month later I had interviews in Monheim and shortly after in Leverkusen. So the ‘international’ in the program title was covered even before I began.
What did I do?
The first out of four scheduled 6-months-assignments started in September 2010 in BCS’ global headquarters in Monheim, located between Düsseldorf and Cologne. I was part of a project in which we designed new processes for a more flexible and efficient end-to-end supply chain. The broad scope of the project allowed me to get insights in major activities and structures of BCS operations and organizations right from the start. I became aware of some astonishing as well as confusing details for someone who never got in touch with agro-chemical business. Luckily, I had BCS colleagues around who were always very receptive and helped me out whenever I had questions or doubts. Apart from that, I benefitted from working with colleagues from all regions of the globe and across various departments of the SCM organization. This was an optimal setting for quickly building up a network of colleagues. ‘Network’ was also a key word in my project tasks, as I worked in project teams who defined the optimal setting of our supply network regarding where and how in the world we ought to store our products. The definition of adequate processes and key performance indicators, in combination with constantly challenging our findings for feasibility in daily business, proved to be very useful for the upcoming tasks.
At the beginning of November, I changed from the project work in our Global Supply Management department. Here, I gained insights in all the different aspects and interfaces behind the mere figures that one can find in the balance sheet and I realized how essential flexibility is in this business. Intermediates, active ingredients, formulations, registrations, minimum ignition energy, spot orders, tolling … some of the keywords which represent a source of disruptions along the supply chain. All of them have to be managed carefully in order to provide our customers with our products in time and not after their crops are already spoiled by weeds or pests. This variety of aspects is reflected in the daily work life of a Global Supply Manager. I worked closely together with a colleague whom I assisted in his activities; e.g. support of the development of a global product allocation plan in a cross-functional team or coordination of changes towards a more efficient packaging concept.
After this global, more strategic assignment I went on to BCS’ biggest production site just on the opposite site of the river Rhine. In Dormagen I worked in the Site Logistics department, which is in a way the bridge between global planning and production execution. One immediately notices the more hands-on attitude and level of detail required in daily production and logistics operations. Besides the projects in which I had sole leadership concerning the progress and outcome, I had the possibility to closely observe the activities in our production plants. It is a lot easier now to understand chemical production processes and possible issues for me as a business school graduate as I could see those vessels, heated raw materials, milling processes, etc. rather than reading about them.
The next steps of the trainee program – which were frequently aligned with our HR business partner and my mentor – encompassed an interim assignment in our European headquarters in Lyon followed by six months in the Australian subsidiary of BCS. There I spent four months in Melbourne in the country HQ and two months in Brisbane in the local production site. During this stage I gained first-hand insights in the final steps of our supply chain: filling and packaging on to distribution warehouses and finally the shipment to intermediaries. I also worked together with colleagues from the sales department, which allowed me to get in touch with wholesalers and our farmers, who ultimately apply our products on their acres. This was in hindsight probably the best experience.
As the trainee program is a Bayer-wide initiative, my journey through the organization was augmented with a change of subgroup to Bayer Healthcare where I worked in the global SCM team in Berlin. There I had the opportunity to better understand the specific requirements and constraints to provide patients with medicines for a better life as opposed to those challenges of providing farmers with plant protection products.
How was it?
In conclusion I can say that the two years were very valuable. Working in different locations and departments with great colleagues was packed with enriching experiences. Starting as a global SCM Trainee at Bayer made the start in the working life actually a lot more exciting and fun than I imagined during my study times and gave me a solid background for my today’s job as a Regional Supply Manager in Lyon, France.
P.S.: And of course there were days off…
This report was written by Julien Dennert. 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.
If you intend to start a career as a SCM-Trainee at Bayer, then don’t miss this opportunity and apply now: http://karriere.bayer.de/en/entrylevel/traineeprograms/supply_chain/index.html
This post is also available in: German