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How Schneider Electric integrates interns into its talent development strategy

Karen Lim, Country Director, Head of Human Resources at Schneider Electric, shares that under the Interns Empowerment Program, interns participate in reverse mentoring every month, where knowledge is shared with business leaders.

Q What approach does Schneider Electric take when it comes to talent development?

At Schneider Electric, our ambition is to instil a culture of life-long learning and personal development in our employees which is so essential in today’s dynamic landscape. In order to facilitate digital success for our customers, which is the core of our business, we will not be successful without first having a strong culture of innovation ourselves.

To complement the workplace of the future, our talent development strategy focuses on recruiting digital talent, providing platforms for learning and development, and encouraging the embracing of innovation at every level. By addressing the diverse needs of all our employees, we help facilitate greater engagement and a sense of well-being that translates into overall work satisfaction and productivity.

Q How do internships play into this strategy?

Internship programs need to empower young talents by providing an inclusive platform to learn and grow. Their familiarity with the digital space brings immense value to the digital transformation process of our businesses and HR leaders need to capitalise on their strengths.

In our internship program, we recruit interns and provide them an empowered and inclusive workplace to learn and perform at their best. Knowing the Millennials and Gen Z are the true digital natives, we build our future on their strengths during our digital transformation.

Most of the interns are actively involved in the decision-making process at every function and level.
This helps to build an open culture among the team, while our leaders get to practice mentoring and bridge the multi-generational gaps.

Q How does taking in interns help Schneider Electric in the long run?

Under our Interns Empowerment Program, interns participate in reverse mentoring every month, where knowledge is shared with our business leaders.

Additionally, interns contribute to different parts of the business depending on their strengths and interest. From programming, business intelligence, data analytics, to social media communication and e-commerce, we have interns from varying backgrounds who are valuable to the diverse work that we do.

Hybrid roles are also created where individuals can work across different functions. For example, we give mechanical engineering students a chance to intern in the IT department, while IT students can be placed in the HR department. These cross functional roles allow the company to experiment with different ways of working and encourage diversity in ideas across business functions.

Q Were there any challenges faced, and how were the challenges overcome?

The challenge for HR leaders has always been striking a balance between expectations of managers and the commitment and competency of our internship talents. HR leaders have the responsibility of educating business leaders on the significance of the internship program.
Rather than having the traditional mindset of taking interns as temporary work solutions, managers need to see internships as a key component of our talent development strategy.
On the other hand, it is equally important to ensure that interns are given adequate training and guidance to be able to contribute in the complex work environment.

At Schneider Electric, we consistently review our internship hiring processes to achieve a structured learning culture and sustainable internship ecosystem. We have HR business partners to advise us on how to leverage the students’ help on important projects, and conduct training for Tableau and Excel VBA classes to improve their skills at work. Opportunities are also created for the interns to take lead in some of the company events and trainings.

The benefit of working in such a dynamic environment ensures that we don’t create followers, but more leaders, who are able to pick up a range of unique skills and industry knowledge that will ultimately give them an edge in their careers in the long run.

Q With initiatives such as internships, how is ROI measured?

We recognise that investing time and effort in our interns help promote diversity and inclusion at Schneider Electric by encouraging different thoughts and perspectives. Schneider Electric was recognised this year as one of Singapore’s most attractive employers - coming in 46th in Universum’s 2019 Ranking, and among the top 75 in Randstad’s ranking of the most attractive commercial employers in Singapore. This is an accolade we are immensely proud of because a huge part of our business lies in our people, and we make it a priority to treat our employees with the same level of dedication and attention as we do our customers.

Internships also solidify the pipeline for young talents to join the company. Interns are encouraged to join programs like Go Green in the City, a global student competition where many participants go on to join us upon graduation.

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