Bosch: Building an executive pipeline
Further expanding the footprint of the Junior Managers Program (JMP) in Singapore is a key part of the medium-term agenda for German engineering and electronics giant Bosch.
Jane Tham, Senior Manager, HR - Robert Bosch (Southeast Asia), says Bosch is aiming to add another three trainees in Singapore during 2016, adding to its current pool of nine.
“Each year’s number of vacancies is planned far in advance and reviewed yearly to ensure an optimal supply of trainees,” explains Tham.
The JMP is Bosch’s way of building its talent pipeline for the future, with those joining this programme being trained and groomed for executive positions within the organisation.
First introduced in Singapore in 1999, Tham says the JMP is kept highly standardised worldwide to maintain the same quality, intent, and objective of the programme.
“However, slight deviations and customisations may be considered, depending on the candidate’s needs and goals,” she states.
According to Tham, Bosch takes a holistic viewpoint on its JMP applicants that goes beyond just having above-average academic results.
“As future leaders of the company, they must be able to demonstrate leadership traits and potential, which could be in activities outside of their curriculum. Having a broadened horizon through overseas exposure is also advantageous for a multinational and multicultural company such as Bosch. In Singapore, Bosch has over 30 nationalities under one roof,” she elaborates.
With the JMP specifically targeting and grooming young talents, candidates must have less than three years of working experience.
“The selection process for JMP is a more stringent one (as compared to the typical hiring process) that involves an additional layer of assessment and checks at the HR level,” says Tham.
Programme-relevant criteria such as international mobility are also considered, and candidates may be subjected to tests or case studies as part of the assessment process.
In collaboration with HR, each trainee’s programme path is also designed by their designated mentor within Bosch. It is based on the trainee’s maiden target position after the programme.
“Imperative sectors will be defined at the planning stage that is forecasted at least one year prior to recruitment,” says Tham.
She says Bosch’s global and Singaporean branches are seeking candidates who are well-rounded individuals with IT and software skills, as well as those who are engineering and business graduates.
“As such, management trainees can look forward to various positions and roles across the company’s diverse business divisions,” Tham explains. “These could be corporate functions such as HR, controlling, and logistics that support the business divisions’ growth in the region, as well as in the research and software development that will drive Bosch’s competencies and expertise in the Internet of Things.”
Immediate training priorities
Two key training imperatives will be immediately inculcated into JMP trainees in Singapore: leadership and holistic exposure.
Tham says that when future leaders learn from the bottom up, they better comprehend a corporate culture that orients towards values and sustainability rather than short-term profit maximisation.
“Trainees undergo further leadership development through classroom training and simulations, while also receiving guidance from their respective mentors who are in senior management,” she adds.
When it comes to adding a holistic element, Tham says JMP participants alternate between plants, divisions, and corporate departments, and will also complete a compulsory overseas posting.
Participants use their own initiative to assume tasks associated with day-to-day work and projects and have access to their own training budgets. The goal is for junior executives to undertake leadership responsibility for a department eight years after joining the programme.
“The holistic exposure that JMP trainees will undergo is invaluable to both the company as well as the individual,” Tham says. “Their decision-making process will be one that considers multiple facets, while their leadership is grounded on the company’s values of fairness, credibility, and trust.”
Creating history in Myanmar
Among the beneficiaries of the JMP in Singapore is Jacob Seet (1st from right of picture), who in January 2015, had the pleasure of being the first-ever JMP trainee to undertake a rotation in Myanmar.
Bosch established its presence in Myanmar in April 2013 but the country is still in the process of opening up its economy.
Seet says his stint in Yangon was particularly challenging due to the lack of systems and processes which people take for granted in Singapore.
He says this presented an opportunity for him to experiment with new business concepts and steer the team’s sales and marketing strategy.
“What was especially meaningful for me was when being placed in a fast-paced and uncertain environment, I was able to exercise my judgment and take calculated risks on a daily basis, thus sharpening my business acumen in the process,” says Seet.
“By overcoming fresh obstacles every day, I found myself to have grown in confidence and built a new willingness to accept failure as a learning opportunity.”
Seet adds that the experiences gathered from his Myanmar stint have been “tremendously satisfying, both professionally and personally”.
Making waves in Stuttgart
Amanda Lim: The time I spent on my overseas rotation in Stuttgart, Germany, was a memorable and invaluable part of my JMP experience – both professionally and personally. Being at the corporate headquarters gave me insights into the Bosch Group that I would not have had if not for the programme.
Supporting worldwide compensation projects brought my understanding of compensation topics to a much deeper level. Furthermore, being able to meet and network with the policy makers themselves allowed me to understand the company’s direction and philosophy on a wide range of HR topics.
Bringing that experience and knowledge to my current HR role in Singapore has proved to be immensely helpful when considering the broader impact of my work beyond the local level.
Richard Chang: My overseas posting in Stuttgart, Germany, has rounded up my international exposure spanning the US, Europe, and Asia at an early stage of my career – I am currently based out of Singapore for our operations into the Asia-Pacific region. Having lived and worked in different parts of the world, I now have a better appreciation for cultural nuances and a glimpse into differing perspectives around the world.
This exposure is benefitting me on a daily basis as I deal with various international colleagues and customers on the projects that I am working on, and understand differing expectations or requirements because of cultural and mindset differences.