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Professional Life After Trainee Program

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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.
ZF Trainees, May 02, 2017
ZF Trainees are a group of young people taking part in the ZF Global Trainee Program. In the #traineeblog they give insights about the life as a ZF Trainee.
Hi guys, My name is Claus and I was a trainee in the batch of 2010-11. I’m 30 years old, married and I’ve been a member of the ZF family for nearly half of my life. I started with an apprenticeship as industrial mechanic at the age of 16, followed by some time across the pond in the USA working as a machine operator, before starting a degree program to become a mechanical engineer. Nevertheless, besides my solid mechanical background, I was always interested in the big picture of a corporate company. Thus, the trainee program was a great opportunity for me to experience another scope, in my case with economical focus, such as Sales, Controlling or M&A. Not only did I get the chance to extend my horizon and understand cross-functional processes in a corporate group like ZF, but I also was able to build up a great internal network, which I still use on my daily business.

I received intense feedback and coaching regarding my own person from experienced managers and trainers.

Apart from the professional aspects, the trainee program was also great on a personal level, spending time together with awesome people which sometimes even led to close friendships. From the end of the trainee program until now, together we had some great wedding parties, common vacations, even an Alps-X adventure tour and not to forget, we still have our yearly ski-opening as well.
After the trainee program I started in Corporate Supplier Management, where I had the task to introduce and implement Tooling Cost Calculations within ZF. This fitted perfectly to my personal target of finding a position where I could connect my mechanical background with business related issues. I developed a roll-out concept, established an expert team, and at the end I had the chance to present my results to senior management. During this job, I also recognized that I want to intensify my economical background and I decided upon a part-time master degree program in Finance & Controlling.

And then, there was the 1st of June 2014 – at this day I have had the pleasure to be one of three persons sitting around a table with the task to implement Cost Engineering at ZF Group as a part of ZF’s Strategy 2025. This new organization is aimed to support all departments of the ZF Group with professional cost analytics expertise, as to improve all cost relevant processes and enable ZF’s change from technology leader to an innovation and cost leader.
Since that time, I’m highly involved in this organization. Around one year later I became a local team manager of eight cost engineers in Friedrichshafen, coordinating all activities with the internal partners as well as suppliers. And again one and half year later, due to the merge of ZF and TRW, I got the chance to become the global Cost Engineering manager for Castings in several locations all over the world. In this position, I currently proactively support our internal and external partners from the first cost analysis to the final realization of the identified cost potentials. For me it is the best motivation I can imagine to actively shape ZF’s future and to support ZF to reach its strategic objectives.

Not to get a wrong picture of me, I’m not only loving my job, but when time allows, I love especially practicing my various hobbies such as mountain biking, hiking, ski touring and everything else you can image to do outdoors.
Overall, I can definitely tell you that the trainee program will shape your professional and personal life, and I’m glad that I’ve been a part of it. I’m always open-minded and looking forward to getting in touch with new trainees - maybe also for a trainee project in Cost Engineering ;) - Because I like to have conversations and fresh insights of highly motivated young people.