Virtually connected – the International Procurement Management Trainee Program
With the pandemic abruptly changing our way of interacting with each other, adapting to the virtual setting has presented many challenges as well as opportunities. Procurement is an overarching function. Efficient communication with internal stakeholders and suppliers is therefore crucial to ensure that all processes run smoothly. As newcomers to Bayer, we got to know the company in this setting. We want to share these experiences with you.
Michel: Hi, my name is Michel Vieth. I started my International Procurement Management Trainee Program (IPMT) in October 2020 and I am currently working in my second rotation. I became intrigued by procurement during internships in Germany and abroad. So, when I finished my master’s in supply chain management, I was certain I wanted two things from my first job: Learn as much as possible about procurement and work in an international environment. And I’m glad I joined Bayer to do this.
Yao: Hello, my name is Yao Zhang. I joined the IPMT program in September 2020. Before that, I studied Industrial Engineering and also worked in procurement. Like Michel, I was intrigued by this line of work and the IPMT program in particular because of its emphasis on international exchange. I have always been fascinated by multicultural environments, and here on the IPMT program, I get to experience that every day.
A virtual experience – same, but different
Michel: Like probably everyone else, I imagined my first job after university in many ways. What I did not expect was that I would mostly be working from home. Bayer showed great responsibility and flexibility when the COVID-19 situation unfolded. If possible, we are encouraged to work from home and we were quickly kitted out with all the technical equipment we needed. All the way back to the selection process between March and May, all contact with Bayer employees was virtual and went seamlessly. When I then started my first rotation in October, I expected it to be difficult to settle into my new roles without seeing my colleagues in person. But my concerns were quickly dispelled. Bayer found great ways to foster communication among employees and I felt well supported at my desk at home. Virtual team meetings, informal coffee talks, virtual yoga sessions and Christmas parties made sure a great team spirit was created. And sometimes, virtual can even accelerate things – I had not expected to do a workout with the CPO of Bayer anytime soon.
Yao: Yes, I fully agree. Bayer has adapted to the new environment quickly and we have chosen to use this as an opportunity to learn and innovate for the future. We are evaluating new ways of working to combine the benefits and lessons learned from the virtual setting with the personal interaction we were used to before. One of these ways is the start of a project with flexible workspaces to prepare for the time after the pandemic. We are regularly consulted about our experiences, and our input is helping shape our future method of working. There is a lot to be excited about and at procurement, we have a culture of moving things forward. That gives you the opportunity to make real and meaningful progress.
As you can see, it is possible to be integrated as part of a company even in a virtual setting. Procurement has a very strong and unique culture. Another important aspect of that, as we have already briefly mentioned, is diversity and internationality. We work in teams that are connected all over the globe and the virtual setting has strengthened the exchange process even more. Thus, working together with colleagues from every part of the world at the same time is a regular occurrence. However, we are not only diverse in culture but also in educational backgrounds and areas of work. Our colleagues have backgrounds in many different fields, such as science, economics, engineering or law, and we come together to work on a wide variety of tasks.
Your own, individual IPMT program
Michel: I would like to end my part of this brief experience report with some thoughts on the content and organization of the trainee program. My first rotation was pre-organized. After that, all rotations are discussed with the mentor and the program coordinator to find interesting projects and tasks for us that lead to our development and give us a complete overview of the different functions, processes and people within procurement at Bayer. And lastly, I want to point out the decade-long track record of IPMTs at Bayer, which over the years has resulted in a unique trainee community. For me this has been a great facilitator. Talking to people that have been through the same experiences one, two or even five years ahead of me has helped me to better understand the culture at Bayer and see how I can personally contribute as a trainee. Also, unlike in most regular positions, where you are generally the only newcomer, we trainees can support each other. Having peers like Yao in your trainee generation helps to share experiences and learn from each other. Anything to add Yao?
Yao: Of course, there is a lot more to add. But let’s keep this report short since we are sure you are looking to have your own experiences. We want to encourage everyone out there to not be hesitant and to take on challenges. So, take your chance, and if there is anything else you would like to know, you are welcome to contact us via LinkedIn!