In October 2019, a diverse and energetic group of ZF Trainees met for the first time in Friedrichshafen, Germany for Orientation Week. Following an introductory meeting and taking an official group photo, the new cohort headed off to the beautiful Viktorsberg, Austria.
The Orientation Week is an official part of the ZF Global Trainee Program to get started; it is meant to build trust, understanding, and friendship through various exciting challenges, and it did indeed. At first, we were tasked with preparing a three-course meal together. Through this activity we began to learn about each other’s unique work styles and approaches to teamwork. Canyoning and repelling down mountainsides in the Alps pushed everyone out of our comfort zones and gave the opportunity to support each other, both figuratively and literally. Nothing helps a group bond quite like sliding down muddy riverbanks in the rain or ziplining over rushing waterfalls together! On Thursday many trainees from the 2018-2019 cohort were welcomed for a night of games and the annual Trainee Olympics the following morning, where the group was split into teams and competed in outdoor challenges. When Orientation week ended, many of us took advantage of the weekend by touring Innsbruck and going kayaking. In just seven short days, the ZF Trainee Cohort of 2019-20 went from strangers to great friends and colleagues; ready and motivated to work as a team in the coming months.
For our first Central Event, one of a total of three meetings at which the entire group comes together for specific trainings, we headed to Sulz, Austria. Linda and Achim, our facilitators, gave us lots of information and interaction on project management methodologies with a lot of fun activities, such as learning agile method by building a Lego ZF City. The icing on the cake was learning how projects are managed in real-time at ZF from an expert in the field working with ZF. Our first professional challenge as Trainees came on Tuesday of the Central Event. We were divided into two groups for two different joint projects: one focused on Diversity and the other focused in Business and Production strategy. In the following days, all of us demonstrated a high level of enthusiasm and rapid action to familiarize with the projects and get started. The biggest challenge for both teams was the time limitation - there were only three days to prepare before meeting with the steering committees of the projects. Despite the pressure, the teams gathered and enjoyed working on the projects. Thursday again was a big day, as we had a call with 150 former trainees, introducing ourselves as the newest ZF Trainee Batch. On Friday, both teams gave the steering committees fabulous presentations and we were surprised at how much we'd accomplished in just three days. The first steering committee meetings were a great success for all! After the SteerCo meeting ended, some of us went back to the comfort of the hotel and met for dinner and some headed home, while others opted to travel over the weekend.
What a beautiful and exhausting fortnight it was! We can’t wait to reunite soon!