Early Career Program in North America: a tremendous learning experience 4 minutes spent reading
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Early Career Program in North America: a tremendous learning experience

Christopher Eberl
Christopher Eberl is editorially responsible for the topics on the blog as well as for the apprentice website. With his stories he provides deep insights into the diverse world of the voestalpine Group.

The third and last module—transformed into online training due to COVID-19—brought the third round of the Early Career Program to an end in March this year.

For over a year, young potential executives from a wide variety of voestalpine companies in North America met for continuing professional development training. For some, it was only after starting on the Early Career Program that they realized just how many companies in Mexico, Canada, and the USA are part of voestalpine. 30 companies with around 3,700 employees work for voestalpine in North America alone. Every two years, the Group, which is headquartered in Austria, runs this professional and personal development program which is especially designed for North America. The success of the program lies in its combination of voestalpine know-how, strengthening specialist knowledge and personal skills, paired with works visits to a variety of sites.

“It’s been a tremendous learning experience and an absolute pleasure being apart of the Early Career Program. Being able to meet fellow voestalpine employees from various divisions and places really opened my eyes to how large the company truly is. Visiting various locations was incredible and a beneficial experience. When this all began I was hesitant and shy but as I communicated and got to know the others, it really allowed me to open up. Everyone wants to improve not only their own skills but improve as a team to help the company succeed and grow.”

Blake Lovell
Inside Sales Supervisor
Sturdell Industries Inc.

Mississauga, ON

Starting in Toronto …

“We have 30 participants on each program, all recommended by the individual companies,” explains Verena Amerstorfer, who coordinates the program from the Group Human Resources department at voestalpine AG in Linz. The third round of the successful program started off in Toronto with the first of three modules. Supported by voestalpine Group know-how about strategy, products, and compliance, the international flock of participants immersed themselves in the global world of voestalpine. The diversity of the voestalpine world was further underscored by the participants, who presented not only themselves but also gave a pre-prepared presentation on ‘their’ company. Toronto was deliberately chosen as a location to round off the first 3-day meet up with a works visit to the production site of voestalpine High Performance Metals Ltd. in Mississauga.

The participants of the Early Career Program.

Second part in Corpus Christi …

The journey continued through North America, with module 2 taking place in Corpus Christi, Texas. This involved training in communication, conflict management, and presentation techniques, as well as another site visit, this time to the voestalpine Texas HBI plant at Corpus Christi. The world’s largest and most advanced facility of its type is the largest investment ever made by an Austrian company in the US. The plant produces high-quality HBI (hot briquetted iron—sponge iron), a sophisticated pre-material for steel production. The plant is regarded as an environmental benchmark and plays a significant role in helping voestalpine reduce carbon emissions in steel production.

“The program made it possible for me to develop a good perspective on the voestalpine Group, strategic focus and business practices. The training sessions for communication, presentation and negotiation were very engaging and offered a variety of practical skill sets that would prove beneficial to my daily work. The site visits were quite impressive and I enjoyed the interactions with the trainers and my colleagues in every moment of the program.”

Greg Zhang
Designer, Engineering
voestalpine Railway Systems Nortrak
Richmond, B.C.

… Online Experience: the third & last module

The third module was originally intended to be held in Chicago, but the plans fell victim to COVID-19. Instead of classroom seminars, it was transformed into a digital course: after project management and negotiation training, the participants were taken on a virtual tour of the production facilities in Linz, the largest site and headquarters of the voestalpine Group. It was a very special event, considering a ‘trip to Austria’ had not been part of the original program. This virtual reality tour had already been warmly received by around 400 participants at the digital Group Apprentice Day, and will also be used in place of works visits on the executive development program (value:program) which is currently also being run in a digital format.

Good prospects

With respect to future plans, Amerstorfer is confident that the fourth round of the Early Career Program starting in fall 2022 will be able to return to its normal form. The program itself certainly has good prospects. The feedback from the participants, as well as their managers, is excellent. Or as Chen Chen from Ontario says:

“Thank you and the team for organizing such an enjoyable and informative program, I have had a great experience and learned a lot from it. It definitely helped me to develop the skills needed to advance further in my career. I would like to recommend this program to my colleagues when it is offered again.”

Chen Chen
Production Team Leader
voestalpine Additive Manufacturing Centre Ltd.
Mississauga, Ontario

Christopher Eberl

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