Project management: climbing the career ladder without personnel responsibility
Career opportunities in a connected work environment
Kübel, director of industrial relations: “Highly-qualified project managers are essential”
Stuttgart – Is it possible to have a career without being someone's boss? Following twelve months of further training, Oliver Maus has proven that it is. The 51-year-old Bosch associate is the 500th certified project manager at the global supplier of technology and services. Maus is now one of a group of specialists at the company who have acquired the expertise and skills required to manage major or very complex projects. He has already applied this know-how to successfully managing a major IT project that involved more than 100 people. The former software developer and sales manager passed the “Bosch Certified Project Manager” examination at Robert Bosch Kolleg. The Bosch Group is one of only a handful of employ¬ers that have such a high number of self-certified project managers around the world.
“As project manager, I especially enjoy managing associates, even if they aren't reporting to me,” Maus said at the certification ceremony. Maus works for the Drive and Control Technology division in Ketsch, in southern Germany. “Project managers often go off the beaten path, mainly because each project is so unique that the approach to reaching specific goals is never clearly laid out. Since there is no routine in project work, I can take a creative approach to tasks I've never dealt with before.”
Project management as a career path At Bosch, a career without personnel responsibility is also possible. The company offers three career paths that are similar both in financial and organizational terms. The executive, specialist, and project management paths offer associates a range of career development opportunities that allow them to pursue their preferences and develop their skills. Moreover, not only is it possible to switch paths if desired, it is also encouraged. Project management experience is also considered an important career building block for senior executives.
A connected work environment calls for project managers The world is increasingly connected, and companies must be able to share and pool their expertise across international and interdisciplinary bounda-ries. This is why a growing number of Bosch specialists work on a range of tasks in virtual teams for limited periods of time alongside their usual jobs. “Many project teams work with customers and other partners all over the world. A high standard of project management is indispensable for this,” said Christoph Kübel, member of the board of management and director of industrial relations at Robert Bosch GmbH: “For this reason, we place a great deal of importance on ensuring that our project managers are highly qualified. Their work enhances our innovative strength and illustrates the many career paths that are possible at our company.”
At Bosch, there are many examples of complex projects: the company is currently testing automated driving technologies in Germany and California (1). The bi-national project team combines expertise from the realms of artificial intelligence and IT with traditional automotive know-how. The research center for advance engineering in Renningen is the biggest construction project in Bosch history. Under the site manager Petra Kinkartz's leadership, there are up to 800 tradespeople working on the building site (2). The winners of the German Future Prize also developed their ultrashort pulse laser, a tool for precise material processing, over the course of a multi-year project with partners outside the company (3).
Training that combines theory and practice Bosch has offered a training program for project managers since 2006. It combines the training standards of the renowned U.S. Project Management Institute with Bosch requirements. Participants complete the training program at Robert Bosch Kolleg, the company's university for specialists and senior executives. In addition to 100 hours of classes, students are required to commit an additional 50 hours for assignments and research papers. Another 100 hours are required to prepare for the final exam. To be admitted to the program, participants must already have some project management experience, for instance at the departmental or divisional level.
Since it was founded in 1961, the Bosch Vocational Center (BVC) has trained some 2,400 apprentices in seven trades
Hardly any other Indian vocational training institute has received as many awards as the BVC
Bangalore – The German Federal President Joachim Gauck today visited the Bosch Vocational Center (BVC) in Bangalore. On his tour of the center, the president was given insights into the Bosch Group's activities in vocational training, and in particular how it trains young people in India for technical trades. “Bosch as a company has always been acknowledged for its commitment to building talent and contributing back to the industry, thus looking beyond immediate financial gains,” said Germany's Federal President. “The number of people being trained at the Bosch Vocational Center exceeds the company's own personnel needs; this demonstrates its responsibility to Indian society and makes it a true role model.”
President Gauck's tour took in the apprentices' workshop and the mechatronics laboratory, where state-of-the-art equipment and machinery are used to prepare apprentices for their later careers. The president used the opportunity to speak with a number of Indian Bosch apprentices about their experience with the German vocational training model.
A proven model for developing skills Each year, 60 young people start a three- or four-year apprenticeship at Bosch in India. Bosch trains more people than it actually needs in India, and in this way fulfills its social responsibility to provide vocational training for young people.
“We see it as an essential part of our corporate philosophy to offer apprenticeships, thus enabling many young people to get a head start in their careers,” said Peter Tyroller, the Bosch board of management member responsible for Asia Pacific. “For more than 50 years, Bosch in India has developed extensive expertise in the realm of occupational training. The proven Bosch model helps us ensure the high quality-standard of our products and maintain our competitive edge.”
A success story since 1961 Training at the BVC in Bangalore takes its lead from the German vocational training model. More than 20 percent of the curriculum is taken up with theory, while 30 percent focuses on gaining practical skills and abilities in the apprentices' workshop. The apprentices spend roughly 50 percent of their time on the shop floor, where they put what they have learned into practice. Sixteen instructors train the young people in seven trades – as electricians, for example, or as mechatronics engineers, toolmakers, and machine operators. A total of 172 apprentices are currently being trained, of which 28 are young women.
Since the Bosch Vocational Center was set up in 1961, just under 2,400 young people have been trained at Bosch. During this time, the company's apprentices have won 211 gold medals in national competitions run by the Indian Ministry of Labor and Employment to find the best apprentice. In addition, the BVC has won the Indian president's “Best Establishment Award” 46 times – a distinction that no other company in India has received.
German vocational training reaps benefits worldwide Many Bosch locations outside Germany now offer training according to the proven German method – for example, in China, India, and Brazil. In Asia especially, there is a great need for qualified skilled workers. Bosch is currently setting up a vocational training center in Vietnam. And in Thailand, a vocational training alliance is being launched. In Russia, Bosch has been offering vocational training based on the German dual model since January 2014, initially for twelve apprentices.
Moreover, an international apprentice exchange has been offered at Bosch for 50 years now. Currently, some 20 percent of each year's trainees in Germany have the opportunity to discover other countries' ways of working, and to gain intercultural experience. The aim is to help young people develop into independent and responsible professionals who are also efficient team players.
Roughly 6,100 young people around the world receive occupational training at Bosch, around 4,300 of them in Germany. In addition, the company is providing an extra 100 technical and industrial apprenticeships in Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain for young people from southern Europe. Since the company’s first apprentices’ workshop was set up by the company founder Robert Bosch 100 years ago, it has trained more than 100,000 young people.
Bosch in India Bosch has been present in India since 1922. The company currently employs some 26,000 associates at 10 manufacturing sites and 7 research and development locations in the country. In 2012, Bosch generated sales of 1.5 billion euros in India. Bosch is further expanding its business: in 2014, it will invest some 160 million euros in extending its Indian locations.
Bosch CEO Denner: “The breadth of our technological expertise and our presence in diverse sectors of the economy are crucial advantages in a connected world.”
Sales up 2.7 percent to 46.4 billion euros
Disregarding extraordinary burdens from photovoltaics, EBIT margin at roughly 6 percent
Stuttgart – According to preliminary figures, the Bosch Group increased its sales by 2.7 percent in 2013, to 46.4 billion euros, and this despite the difficult economic environment (adjusted previous-year figure: 45.2 billion euros). In the form of negative exchange-rate effects to the tune of some 1.5 billion euros, the strong euro places a considerable burden on the sales revenue disclosed by the supplier of technology and services. Earnings have developed fundamentally better, but are once again affected by the situation of the Solar Energy division, which remained difficult in 2013. In early 2013, the company announced its decision to exit its activities in crystalline photovoltaics.
*Note: Due to changes in the law, Bosch no longer includes its fifty-fifty joint ventures in its accounting. This mainly concerns Bosch Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH and ZF Lenksysteme, whose consolidated sales comes to some 7 billion euros. Due to these changes, current figures for sales, result, and headcount are only partially comparable with the figures previously published for 2012.
Progress in earnings According to preliminary figures, and leaving aside the extraordinary burdens caused by photovoltaics, the Bosch Group EBIT margin comes to some 6 percent. This is roughly one percentage point more than in the previous year. Including the extraordinary burdens as a result of photovoltaics, which are likely to total 1.3 billion euros, EBIT margin some 3 percent. “The many measures taken to improve profitability are clearly working. In fact, we have made better progress with result than expected,” said Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. In 2014, Bosch will continue to work without let-up on improving its competitiveness and fitness for the future. As regards the targets for sales growth and margin, Denner said: “We have already made progress. We will continue to focus on profitability, growth, and agility.”
Seizing growth opportunities – opening up new market segments The company wants to unlock existing potential for growth and open up new market segments. Various future trends are relevant for Bosch here. Apart from energy efficiency and connectivity, there is the high-spending aging population in the industrialized countries and the rapidly growing middle class in the emerging markets of Asia and South America. Bosch is also working intensively on the mobility of the future, which will be electric, automated, and connected. In 2013, Bosch launched many products and services related to these trends. They include highly efficient gasoline and diesel injection systems, driver assistance systems such as motorcycle stability control, mySPIN smartphone integration solution, telematics services for the management of vehicle fleets, and robotics applications such as the “Indego” lawnmower.
Shaping and participating – Bosch in the connected world Bosch especially wants to open up new market segments with solutions for connected living. “The breadth of our technological expertise and our presence in diverse sectors of the economy are crucial advantages in a connected world. We want to play an active role in shaping that world, and at the same time take advantage of the business opportunities it offers. Bosch’s strategic objective is to create solutions for a connected world,” Denner said. For many, connectivity is already a reality. By 2015, some 75 percent of global population will be online, along with more than 6 billion devices. In Bosch’s view, however, this only scratches the surface of the potential opportunities. In the future, the company will make all its electronic appliances web-enabled. “Connectivity will open up new possibilities for all our areas of work. This goes for mobility, for industrial technology, and especially for energy and building technology – also in connection with our consumer goods,” Denner said.
Systematic preparation: activities and partnerships As the world’s leading sensor manufacturer in terms of sales, the web-enabled MEMS sensors supplied by Bosch are a key technical component for connectivity on the internet of things and services. Moreover, at the beginning of the year Bosch set up a subsidiary for the development and sales of connected terminal devices and solutions based on them. Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions GmbH is headquartered in Reutlingen, where the electronics competence center is based. The company was originally an innovation cluster. Bosch uses these cross-divisional clusters to develop new business ideas for a connected world. There are further clusters related to connected buildings, connected mobility, and connected energy. For example, Bosch will be working with partner companies to make a software platform available for standardized data exchange in smart homes. “Alliances are key drivers of the trend toward connectivity,” Denner said. Since November 2013, Bosch has been testing technologies that will allow the digital networking of an entire city in the “Monaco 3.0” pilot project. “Our broad footprint and technological expertise, combined with the creativity and motivation of our associates, are absolutely essential for innovation and growth,” Denner said. Apart from exploiting new market opportunities for connected living, Bosch will continue to make use of every opportunity that presents itself for its traditional business.
Volatility calls for agility Driven mainly by internet technologies, the connected world is dynamic, complex, and volatile as well. “The way the internet has risen over the past 20 years, as well as some of its repercussions, could not have been predicted. This will be true of future developments as well. As a result, we have to be fast and agile when dealing with a connected world,” Denner said. Increasingly, therefore, Bosch will be starting up new business activities to test their potential. Here, a key role will be played by Bosch Start-up GmbH, a company recently set up in Ludwigsburg, Germany. It will assume the role of an incubator for new business ideas and models. The team will help Bosch researchers quickly launch products and services. Bosch Start-up GmbH will make things such as infrastructure and business economics know-how available to new units with potential for growth. “An entrepreneurial mindset on the part of all associates and a culture that sees failure as part of the learning process are key factors for success. We want to further encourage and strengthen these factors,” Denner said. “We have to boldly venture into new territory and push back boundaries.
Business developments by business sector and region in 2013 The sales developments of the business sectors are also affected by significant exchange-rate effects. The Automotive Technology and Consumer Goods business sectors are especially hard hit by these effects. Regardless of this, the Automotive Technology business sector developed extremely positively in 2013. Its business with gasoline direct injection and diesel injection systems grew significantly. The Car Multimedia division was very successful with display instruments and infotainment systems. In Industrial Technology, the packaging machinery business was able to record good growth. By contrast, the global weakness of the mechanical engineering sector caused a considerable slump in the Drive and Control Technology division. In Consumer Goods, Bosch was once again successful with power tools in 2013, both for professional and DIY users. Developments in the Energy and Building Technology business sector were overshadowed by the situation in the Solar Energy division, which was again difficult in 2013. The Security Systems division was able to generate strong growth with communications services, while the Thermotechnology division was successful with energy efficient condensing appliances.
Significant sales growth outside Europe The strong euro had significant negative effects on the development of regional sales. Nonetheless, nominal Asia Pacific sales exceeded their previous-year level by some 5 percent. After adjusting for exchange-rate effects, sales growth even reached double digits. In North America, nominal growth was more than 3 percent according to preliminary figures. At roughly minus 3 percent in nominal terms, sales developed negatively in South America. When adjusted for exchange-rate effects, however, sales grew by a high single-digit figure. Despite an economy that remained very weak, nominal sales in Europe grew slightly, by some 2 percent.
Slight increase in headcount in Asia and North America Worldwide, the Bosch Group had a total of some 281,000 associates at the beginning of 2014 (adjusted previous-year figure: 273,000 associates). In current business, headcount increased by roughly 1,000. Most of these new jobs were in Asia and North America.
Moderate economic prospects for 2014 According to current forecasts, Bosch expects the economy to develop moderately in 2014. As things stand at present, global GDP is expected to grow by 2.8 percent. The company sees risks in the further development of the countries affected by the euro crisis, as well as in a further appreciation of the euro. Against this background, the Bosch Group expects sales to grow slightly in 2014, with its earnings situation continuing to improve.
50 additional places on vocational training courses in Germany, 20 in Italy, and 15 each in Portugal and Spain
Bosch earmarks 7.5 million euros over four years
Bosch CEO Denner: “Joint task for politicians, businesses, and society.”
Stuttgart – Bosch is offering an additional 100 places on its technical vocational training schemes in Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain to young people from Southern Europe. The initiative, which will take effect from the 2014 training year, is a response to high rates of youth unemployment in Southern Europe. The 50 new training places in Germany will be filled by applicants from Spain, while an additional 50 young people outside Germany will follow the program at Bosch locations in Italy, Portugal, and Spain. The technology and services company has set aside some 7.5 million euros in funding for the initiative over the next four years. The decision on whether to continue the initiative in future years will depend on the success of the initial program and ongoing developments in Southern European job markets. Some six million young people are unemployed across Europe – and the jobless rate among young people in some Southern European countries currently stands at more than 50 percent.
Youth unemployment – shared responsibility “Combating youth unemployment in Europe is a joint task for politicians, businesses, and society. All of us share responsibility for this, including Bosch. We want to play our part,” says Dr. Volkmar Denner, Chairman of the Board of Management at Robert Bosch GmbH. Youth unemployment not only has a negative impact on the economy; it also undermines political structures. Experts have long highlighted the risk of young people turning their backs on basic democratic principles if they feel they have no prospects. Christoph Kübel, Member of the Board of Management and Director of Industrial Relations at Bosch, also emphasizes the importance of people getting their working life off to a good start: “These early stages really set the course of people’s subsequent careers. Good training gives young people the chance to determine their own path.”
Training in Germany with intercultural support The young people eligible for the scheme will be recruited by the Bosch regional companies. Since training capacities at Bosch locations outside Germany are limited, 50 young people from Spain will be trained at German locations. The successful applicants will also get an opportunity to take a language course in Spain as part of the preparations for starting their training in Germany at the end of summer 2014. This will be followed by a three month internship at Bosch in Germany. The young people will receive intercultural training and assistance throughout their stay in Germany thanks to a joint initiative between Bosch and the vocational training company BBQ, a subsidiary of the Education Institute of Baden-Württemberg Industry and Commerce (Bildungswerk der Baden-Württembergischen Wirtschaft e.V.).