From apprentice to full-fledged professional
INTERVIEW: Matthias Wiencke |
What vocational training program did you choose to pursue at Bayer and why?
I was already interested in IT when I was in school, so I really wanted to find a vocational training program in that field, but hardly any existed back in 1992. One alternative for me was to go into energy electronics, since I also liked electronics and physics.
But after I submitted my application and took the aptitude test, Bayer suggested an apprenticeship as Process control electronics technician (today: Electronics Technician for Automation Technology). I wasn’t familiar with that job title, but after I read more about it, I liked the suggestion, since process control technology was a much better match for my interests. Process automation was already heading in the direction of IT, and it also touched on physics and electrical engineering with the measurement and control systems involved in production processes. Apparently Bayer felt I had potential, which I thought was great, and it made me feel like I was in good hands there. Other companies had offered me spots in their vocational training programs, too, but had taken no real notice of my personal preferences.
Why did you stay at Bayer after completing the vocational training program?
The IT department offered me a job after I finished, and it was exactly what I wanted. I had continued working intensively with IT while I was doing the training program, and that enabled me to transition into the field. My supervisor had a saying that has applied on many occasions throughout my career: “Luck is what happens when preparation encounters opportunity.”
I started a continuing education training program to become a state-certified technical IT specialist during my first years on the job, and I subsequently transferred within Bayer to a higher position. I was able to put a lot of theory into practice in my day-to-day work during this time, and my theoretical studies also really benefited from my practical experience. My next career step was to establish and head up a decentralized IT support team for our department.
How did you continue to develop in your career and what experience did you gain?
I eventually started leaning more towards training and got involved in the technical side of e-learning. I thought the connection between IT and education/learning theory was really interesting, and I gradually became an expert for e-learning solutions. I also gained experience in change management and consulting, and I combined what I knew in these areas with my new training skills on a variety of projects, such as in marketing and engineering, for example.
After around ten years in training and change management, I felt it was time again to find a new challenge and do something entirely different. The broad experience I’ve gained by working on any number of projects helps me in my current role: establishing and marketing a new service within our internal Bayer Service Centers.
How would you rate the opportunities for career and personal development at Bayer?
Throughout my time at Bayer, my supervisors always encouraged and challenged me, put their trust in me, saw my potential and gave me the support I needed to develop personally, whether that meant sending me to seminars, giving me the freedom to try something new or giving me the option of taking on new responsibilities. To me, that is the ideal environment for personal development. And in a big company like Bayer, people have endless options for development thanks to the many different departments and functions.
It’s important to remember that you are the one responsible for your own personal development. You need to show some initiative, be it by regularly reading professional journals or books, sharing experiences with colleagues, strengthening your soft skills or regularly reflecting on experiences.
New and challenging tasks that go beyond your everyday responsibilities are especially important for expanding and developing your personal perspective.
It also helps to know your own preferences, identify your strengths and weaknesses and work on them. A weakness will probably never become one of your strengths, but you have to be aware of it and actively find workarounds.
How important do you think training programs will be in the future?
Vocational training at Bayer is still a very good way to enter the working world, and it gives you a solid foundation. I’m sure the labor market will always need well-trained professionals. The different departments at Bayer offer great opportunities to start your career. And whatever training program you choose first does not necessarily determine your entire future career path. There are so many options for your career development, such as getting industrial foreman certification or completing a technical business administration course. Some even go on to earn a university degree after graduating from a vocational training program.
This post is also available in: German