Trainee program at HBPO: My path to program management

Following a degree in mechanical engineering at RWTH in Aachen, Tobias started as a program management trainee at HBPO. In an interview, he gives future applicants tips, talks about the application process and his personal highlights at HBPO in Lippstadt.

How did you hear about HBPO and what was your experience during the selection process for the trainee program?

I had done some job experience in the automotive sector during my studies and preparatory courses at university, so after finishing my Master degree I was specifically looking for a job in this sector when I found the job advertisement from HBPO. I submitted my application documents by email and promptly received an invitation to a first interview. This turned out to be a classical job interview and was rounded off by a 10-minute talk about a subject of my choice.

Shortly afterwards, the second round of interviews with a slightly different group of participants took place. One non-prepared task was to prepare an agenda for the kick-off meeting for a fictitious project.

I received the offer of the job about a week later. There was a pleasant atmosphere during the interviews which were held on a level playing field.

What were your reasons deciding to take part in a trainee program?

I had already decided during my studies that I would like to take part in a trainee program. Since my engineering degree was very wide-ranging in terms of content, I wanted to take the opportunity of getting my bearings within the company and being able to grasp the complexity of the industry. In addition, it offered me the chance of living out my broad range of interests and gaining lots of experience.

What tips would you give applicants who still have the selection process to go through?

A suitable CV and a healthy interest in the automotive industry are a basic prerequisite but not a unique selling point. In my opinion, personal characteristics and individual potential are what makes the difference. Employee and company have to match. Your own motivation and targets within the company are important.

I believe that a good measure of openness, flexibility, enthusiasm and desire for variety are key to being considered for this trainee program. For HBPO it is important that both sides find common ground and the applicants get to take an honest look at the company and the trainee program.

In which departments did you work at HBPO? What tasks did you enjoy the most in the whole trainee program?

The 18-month trainee program is characterised by constant job rotation. A total of eight necessary areas are covered for a job as a program manager. This meant I had to get used to new tasks and colleagues every four to eight weeks. However, I was integrated in the Program Management department throughout.

Each of the specialist departments was responsible for its own work contents. Some specialist departments gave me an overview of all processes while I was with them. In others, I supported colleagues more with their project work.

At the end of my trainee period, I was able to experience the results of my planning at a production plant in Mexico. This allowed me to take a close-up look at process steps and I used the opportunity to build a few modules myself. This was definitely my personal highlight during the trainee program.

Complete the sentence: If my job were an Olympic discipline, …

… it would be decathlon. We pursue targets together and need the right techniques and tactics to achieve these. It is important to use different abilities and talents properly and to continue to develop these. If you work hard and use the chances presented to you, you have lots of opportunities as a HBPO employee.

Would you decide in favour of the HBPO trainee program again?

Definitely. I was able to gain a wide range of impressions within the company and my designated department. I was taught a huge amount of company-related and industry-specific know-how. This and the opportunities offered after the trainee program add up to a fantastic package. I have really come to value HBPO as a company over the past 18 months.

How would you describe the contact to your colleagues and the other teams?

There is a very collegial and pleasant atmosphere at HBPO. I felt at home immediately and mutual exchange was straightforward right from the word go. Thanks to the trainee program I have built up a good network within the company. Friendships have developed, too, which made it even easier for me to settle in Lippstadt, coming as I did from elsewhere.

What can you tell us about your trainee salary?

HBPO offers its trainees a standard salary with an open-ended employment contract. Then there are many other benefits such as numerous company events, employee discounts, support with moving accommodation, tailor-made training, exciting practical phases and much more besides.

If you had to describe HBPO in one sentence, what would you say?

With its core business, HBPO has looked for a niche and successfully occupied it. Or in other words: The company is well-positioned in what it does.