From production in Germany to planning in Brazil – all along Bayer’s supply chain
My name is Nadine Haeberle and I am a Global Supply Chain Management Trainee at Bayer. In this post, I will share some insights, experiences, and my personal impression from my time as a trainee and the different roles I have assumed so far.
Completing my master’s degree in Supply Chain Management (SCM), I was well equipped with all the SCM tools and theories; however, I felt that I was lacking the in-depth knowledge and hands-on insights into the various fields of SCM. My passion was clearly SCM, but I could not precisely define the SCM job profile that I was looking for to start my career. Therefore, a trainee program offering the possibility to experience SCM in different positions and to look at the entire SCM from various angles seemed the perfect direction for me to embark on my professional path. The two-year Global SCM Trainee Program at Bayer is divided into five strategic and operational assignments with a duration of three to six months. Being able to work in two to three of the four different divisions at a global, regional, and local level is a unique opportunity to thoroughly get to know a company like Bayer.
Starting my journey with Bayer
My application procedure consisted of three different steps: I completed the online application in February 2017, had a telephone interview with HR and a senior SCM Manager in March, and then I spent two days at an assessment center in Leverkusen, Germany in May. Right after this, I was extended an offer to start the trainee program. A few weeks later, I had an onboarding call with our HR Business Partner and my mentor, a senior SCM manager, to discuss the start date of my program, which I could flexibly choose, and my first two assignments. Finally, in October 2017, I had my first working day at Bayer. The first week, all new SCM trainees enjoyed an extensive onboarding program followed up by other onboarding meetings in subsequent weeks, which formed a good basis for our upcoming assignments, before we then started off our program at different locations. During my first three-month strategic assignment in the Corporate Supply Chain Warehousing department in Leverkusen I was accountable for the organization of the first Bayer European Warehouse Conference for all relevant Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) warehousing stakeholders. This first launch event was a good introduction to the Bayer Supply Chain world as I got to know the complete Bayer warehousing and distribution network in EMEA, experienced the dynamics between the global headquarters and the country organizations, and was furthermore involved in tenders, lean management, and innovation projects.
My second assignment, with a focus on operations, was divided into two parts: First, I spent three months in the Supply Chain Management Team for EMEA in the Consumer Health (CH) headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. While working as a Supply Manager in Basel, I was responsible for the supply planning of the entire CH portfolio produced at the production site in Kiel. Being the key contact for a production site and the interface to the marketed countries was a great experience as I learned how to efficiently manage the supply and how to align with different stakeholders. Moreover, I also planned part of the portfolio produced at the production site in Grenzach. This was a good preparation for the second part of my assignment where I worked three months in the Supply Chain Operations team at the Consumer Health production site in Grenzach, Germany and was then able to plan the same portfolio but from the perspective of a production planner. This experience was a unique opportunity for me to understand the collaboration between the supply manager and the production planner, headquarters, and the production site, and I was able to grasp the overall material and information flow in the CH Division. Furthermore, I was in charge of organizing and coordinating a change management workshop series. This workshop was a cross-departmental collaboration with colleagues from both Basel and Grenzach to achieve a higher degree of transparency, accountability, and acceleration of the end-to-end change management process in the CH Division. As I would have never imagined the complex process behind, for example, a small regulation-driven change to a packaging layout and the effects on the whole supply chain, it was a very valuable experience for me to broaden my SCM horizons. Moreover, this assignment offered me the opportunity to take a deep dive into operations through guided tours in the warehouse, production, quality, and packaging department. On request, I had the chance to work one morning shift on the shop floor at a packaging line. For me as a business graduate, it was a lot easier to fully understand the pharmaceutical production processes by actually actively partaking in them.
Currently, I am part of the Regional Supply Management team for Crop Science (CS) in São Paulo, Brazil. This team steers the whole Latin America (LATAM) supply network and serves as an interface between the region and the global Crop Science (CS) headquarter in Monheim, Germany. As a Regional Supply Manager, I am responsible for the monthly planning of the LATAM supply network for my specific portfolio based on the sales forecast deviations. This means I have to ensure that the countries receive the right amount of supplies at the right time from outside and inside LATAM to be able to produce and sell the finished goods in the region. Besides the monthly supply planning activities, I am leading the roll-out of a global inventory project in LATAM introducing a new planning parameter. This includes communicating with the different country supply chain teams in LATAM and the global headquarters in Monheim on a regular basis. Furthermore, this assignment offers the special opportunity for me to fully grasp the whole end-to-end CS supply chain and to engage with the end customer. I had the great opportunity to visit the region’s largest production site in Belford Roxo, close to Rio de Janeiro, and one of our experimental areas close to São Paulo, where we test the application of our current and new products. These visits helped me to better understand the agro-chemical production processes and issues that can arise. I also learned about the challenges our customers face when applying our products and got some insights into the market of my portfolio. All these experiences have helped me to now understand forecast fluctuations and to better manage my planning. Moreover, I visited a flower farm and was able to directly engage with our end customer. This way I was able to gain very important insights into their role in our supply chain. As I chose SCM to be my field of expertise due to the proximity to the product and the end customer, I was very happy to gain these first-hand experiences. Last, I am very lucky with the timing of my assignment with CS as I got to experience the official start of the combined company Bayer and Monsanto first hand. I am very excited to be part of the integration efforts and I am looking forward to the effects on my team and my work.
Completing the puzzle
My next assignment will take me to the Pharmaceuticals headquarters in Berlin, Germany, where I will be working as Global Supply Planner for the women’s health brand. I am excited to see SCM in action in the third big division at Bayer. I will then complete my trainee program with a three-month “flexible assignment” where I will get the chance to work in an SCM interface function such as Procurement or Marketing. This trainee program packed with enriching experiences has enhanced my passion for SCM and has shaped my idea of an SCM position that I would like to work in. The opportunity to work abroad, to get to know a lot of different divisions of a company, and to experience SCM in various positions is a unique opportunity that has no equal. In all my assignments, I was lucky to always feel warmly welcomed and be surrounded by great, supportive colleagues, experiencing a vibrant team spirit and passion for the company. As every assignment posed a new challenge, it was a great feeling to always have the support and advice of my mentor and the SCM trainee community. Last, this trainee program further provided an optimal setting for quickly building up a great network of colleagues from all around the world. I am looking forward to more great learning and exciting times ahead and I am curious to see where my journey at Bayer will lead me in the end.
This post is also available in: German