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Breaking the ice

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Tags: TraineeCommunity, Careers
In the 15-month ZF Global Trainee Program, participants will become acquainted with work at ZF, rise to the challenges of a daily work routine, apply the knowledge gained during studies to successfully complete international projects and start a promising career at a highly-innovative automotive company.
Neeladhri Rama, October 15, 2018
Neeladhri Rama is from Houston, TX. He studied Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University in the US. What makes Neel stand out is his diverse cultural background as he has attended high school in India and is fluent in five languages.
I am happy to introduce the 2018-2019 ZF Global Trainee Batch to the trainee blog world. Our group is composed of 21 members from six different countries: three trainees from China, two from India, four from the USA, two from Mexico, one from France and nine trainees from Germany. The group is also comprised of a diverse background in education that includes Mechanical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Business Management, Mathematics and Finance.

We met for the first time on Monday October 8 to take part in a 2-week kick-off event that started and ended at ZFs’ headquarters in Friedrichshafen, Germany. At ZF Forum we first had a photo session followed by a stroll thru ZFs’ journey to the company it is today. We then began to break the ice among each other at Lunch. However, the real icebreaker lied ahead as all of us drove off to Viktorsberg, Austria that evening.
Over the next couple of days we did a lot of teambuilding activities to get to know each other and strengthen the feeling of belonging and the one of working together on something big. Part of this was Canyoning, which to me was a unique method of teambuilding as opposed to something we would do in a classroom. Also for the most of the other trainees it was the first time doing something incredible like this. At ZF we are encouraged to explore things we have never done before and during this outdoor activity, that is exactly what we did!
Canyoning Vorarlberg

After surviving all the repelling and the jumps, it was time to expand our ZF network a little. During our first week, we got the opportunity to meet with the previous batch of trainees. We planned an evening with some interesting activities such as speed dating and other games to get to know them better. Our Indian trainees also made some Kaiserschmarn that night which also happened to be only the second time that they had ever cooked. It was one more of those many instances as a member of the ZF family you venture into areas you had never been before.
The upcoming week was more professional and intense: the fun and games thinned down and we began with our project management training to be well prepared for the first tasks that were assigned to us, two big group projects. One is about the topic diversity at ZF and the second one focuses on the development of scenarios for autonomous driving. As a first step, the team was broken into two smaller groups of ten and eleven members. The groups were selected to ensure a diverse range of educations and nationalities on each team, meaning the industrial engineers were evenly split between the teams and so on. Each group maintains a task of rotating the project leadership throughout the term of the project to both challenge the teams and allow for the teams members to gain experience. The projects will be completed in a year’s time at which point, the teams will have the opportunity to present the projects in front of the ZF Board of Management in January of 2020.
While working together it was amazing to see how a diverse group of people cooperate closely and effectively to put together a project plan presentation within a week. At the end of this central event, we were confident and happy that the ice had been broken and we were on the road to an exciting 15 months in the ZF Global Trainee Program. Stay tuned with our blog for more interesting stories of trainees and central events.