Once a year a selection of young graduates meet for a week in the Special Steel Division, to work together on an actual project. This is part of the Young Graduate Program, designed to give students practical training, in accordance with the dual principle of training and education. This time the focus was on global knowledge transfer on the subject of heat treatment.
The graduates met in Düsseldorf, at voestalpine Edelstahl Deutschland GmbH. When the young graduates meet once each year, they always work together to solve a real case. This time the case was provided by Hubert Fratzl, Head of Global Supply Chain Management, and Thomas Aichhorn who is responsible for coordinating the purchase of hardening furnaces: “Global knowledge transfer on the subject of heat treatment.” The goal was to generate ideas and means for more intensive knowledge transfer, particularly concerning decision-making criteria when purchasing vacuum hardening furnaces and preventative maintenance. This knowledge needed to be gathered in a structured manner, and simultaneously made available to everyone in order to acheive synergies.
Intensive work & personal coaching
The complexity and relevance of the task was certainly a motivating factor for the 16 participants. And their motivation was impressive: up to 14 hours of intense work each day, both on the subject matter itself as well as on each participant’s own skills. This ranged from aspects of group dynamics, through to leadership tasks within the team. The group was supported in this endeavor by Professor Robert Bauer from the Johannes-Kepler Universität Linz, Marion Drescher, Human Resources and Head of the Young Graduate Program, and Ruth Rosenberger, also from Human Resources. They took on the important role of coach, accompanying the ‘youngsters’ as they were confronted with the experiences and events of the week.
"It was remarkable how, although some are not yet company employees, these young adults demonstrated such active involvement, in keeping with our corporate culture."
The young graduates were given specialist support relating to the task from international colleagues in the division. Caglar Terzioglu (heat treatment at Böhler-Uddeholm in Turkey), Thorsten Lambart, (Head of voestalpine Edelstahl Wärmebehandlung GmbH in Düsseldorf) and Marcus Mok (heat treatment coordinator in the ASSAB Pacific region). They all contributed their expertise. The students also interviewed voestalpine employees working in heat treatment all over the world by telephone. Together with a visit to a manufacturer of hardening furnaces near Düsseldorf, this provided a very broad range of information.
Immediate implementation possible
At the end of the project week the group presented their impressive results, ideas and methods on knowledge transfer to the ‘case owner’ and the division’s managing directors and managers. The team of 16 young graduates proudly received the praise handed out by Hubert Fratzl whose expectations were most definitely exceeded. “The best thing about the results is that they can be implemented immediately, and that’s exactly what we’ll do. Many thanks to everyone for their hard work and excellent results!”
"I was able to gain my first leadership experience in my role as team leader during this truly exciting and stimulating week, and in doing so learnt a lot about teamwork, leadership and about myself. "