Bosch is investing in future executives: this year, the supplier of technology and services plans to fill some 280 positions in its program for junior managers. A global search is underway for graduates with above-average college grades. Bosch wants them to join its Junior Managers Program (JMP), which will prepare them for executive positions. With 34 positions, the company is expanding its program in the Southeast Asian region.
“Tomorrow’s business leaders need to be navigators and beacons,” says Christoph Kübel, member of the board of management and director of industrial relations at Robert Bosch GmbH. “That is why we qualify our trainees to lead associates in a connected working world, to provide them with orientation, and to work with them to create excellence.”
Most of Bosch’s trainee positions are in Germany (65) and China (41). For the first time, four candidates are also to be recruited in Africa. Kübel adds: “We are looking for well-rounded individuals with IT and software skills, as well as engineering and business graduates.” The JMP is considered to be a career springboard.
Four members of the current Bosch board of management are former trainees, as well as the company’s financial controller for Southeast Asia. The company plans to announce soon how many trained graduates it plans to recruit in total.
Leadership for Southeast Asia from Singapore
As the Southeast Asian headquarters for Bosch, Singapore plays a critical role in this region in driving business, as well as supporting growth through its corporate functions. Therefore, management trainees form an integral component for success in Singapore, and the company aims to add another three trainees in 2016 to its current pool of nine in Singapore.
“The holistic exposure that trainees in the JMP undergo is invaluable to both the company as well as the individual. 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, amongst others,” says Volker Ehrlich, vice president and financial controller for Bosch in Southeast Asia, who is also an alumnus of the program.
The JMP was first introduced in Singapore in 1999, and amongst the pioneer batch of trainees was Michael Goh who is now spearheading Bosch’s Greenfield business in the Internet of Things (IoT) such as Smart Nation and Smart Home projects across Southeast Asia.
Leadership responsibility within just a few years
For 30 years now, the JMP has provided a hands-on setting to prepare qualified young talent for the assumption of leadership tasks. It is characterized by individual program modules that are developed jointly by the participant and a mentor from senior management. As Kübel explains, “From the bottom up, they get to know a corporate culture that orients to values and sustainability rather than short-term profit maximization.”
During the JMP, the participants alternate between plants, divisions, and corporate departments. Acting on their own initiative, they take on tasks associated with day-to-day work and projects and have access to their own training budget.
According to Kübel, the goal is for the junior executives to assume leadership responsibility for a department eight years after joining the program. The participants therefore have a permanent employment contract from the very beginning.
Because of the program’s popularity, they first have to prove themselves in an intensive selection process: in Germany alone, there are some 100 applicants for each single trainee position each year. The JMP is offered with various focal points, from research and development or information technology to management accounting, logistics, technical sales, and purchasing. The JMP lasts 18 to 24 months and includes a post outside the participant’s home country.
Women in leadership positions: female applicants wanted
Qualified women candidates have especially good chances of being accepted to the JMP. By 2020, Bosch wants to increase the share of women in leadership positions to 20 percent, and it is counting on its own junior executives to help it achieve this target.
The 26-year-old business information technology graduate Theresa Best is one of them. She has just started her trainee program and works in the Information Systems and Services corporate sector at the company’s location in Stuttgart-Feuerbach.
“As part of my initial assignments, I’m helping to oversee the introduction of an office software program for 240,000 computer workstations,” Best says and adds, looking into the future: “My next stop on my career path will be Singapore.”
Networking – Taking On Responsibility
Immediately after the program, trainees typically first take over challenging specialist positions to prepare them for a successful executive career. Some even quickly take on more responsibility, such as the 35-year-old Florian Bankoley.
The managing director of a Bosch subsidiary for online mobility solutions sees the JMP as a major opportunity: “Within a very short time, I was able to get to know different parts of the company. Even now, my work still benefits from this, as well as from the network I built up across divisional boundaries during my JMP.”
CFO Asenkerschbaumer: Bosch Focuses On Personality
The aspiring department heads have appealing career opportunities, says Dr. Stefan Asenkerschbaumer, deputy chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. He is also a former JMP participant and has made it to the board of management.
“For the trainees, a career shouldn’t be an end in itself,” the chief financial officer says. The combination of personality and professional skills is the key to professional development.
Asenkerschbaumer’s advice: “Anyone interested in a future leadership career at our company should be able to motivate people, have an entrepreneurial mindset, and be able to work in a team. Those are ideal qualifications for becoming an executive at Bosch.”