For the five young women who are part of ADM’s first cross-business trainee program in Europe, there is no doubt that they are part of a changing world, one in which they aspire to shape the agri-food industry as future leaders. Selected from different parts of the region, the trainees are immersed in a two-year sales and marketing program that provides exposure to leadership and accelerated learning opportunities with four-month rotations across ADM’s Animal Nutrition, Carbohydrates Solutions, and Human Nutrition businesses in Europe.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Sinem Guelmez, Esther Kubik, and Vanessa Hertzke from Germany, Melanie Cannavo from the Netherlands, and Solène Hulo from France are combining remote work with on-site experience to learn, grow, and make a difference. They share their thoughts on starting their careers, and the impact they hope to make one day.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing young people entering the job market?
Sinem (American studies and art history grad): Experience! It’s hard to get that first experience and convince people to give you a chance. Even though I have a completely different background, I still got an opportunity to be part of this program. It shows ADM’s open-mindedness towards the younger generation.
Esther (Human nutrition grad): I think age and the resulting lack of experience plays a role in the opportunities that you get. Sometimes it is hard to be taken seriously when you are young and a stranger to the world of business. But as soon as you show that you are competent, it is an opportunity to drive innovation.
Vanessa (Business management grad): Most job advertisements require work experience, which is impossible for someone who is just starting out in their career, and there are hardly any jobs that are advertised for junior positions. It’s also not enough anymore to be able to speak English and to have lived abroad for some time – you have to distinguish yourself with other skills.
Melanie (Food science grad): When I speak to my friends who are applying for their first jobs, many of them feel insecure because lots of job require years of work experience in addition to advanced degrees. Sometimes it’s hard to have all these qualifications when you are young.
Solène (Agriculture engineering grad): The biggest issue is definitely experience. Companies usually want to hire young people who have experience, but for that you first need to find a job. I think this program is the perfect way to learn how to manage projects, build leadership skills and gain work experience, that too at a much faster pace compared to traditional jobs.
What impact do you hope to make in your careers?
Sinem: The world is changing as we speak. We are able to have more open discussions now about race and gender. For young women like us in such a big company, I hope that we can be part of the change process and take part in building the future of ADM. This program is the first step in our careers and will equip us with the right set of skills for our future roles.
Esther: The program is designed to help us develop at a fast and intense pace, and is positioning us for leadership roles. I would like to build up a solid network and work-relevant skills while gaining the specific knowledge needed for my future occupation.
Vanessa: I am striving for a leadership position so that, together with my team, I can have a greater influence on what is happening. I believe that customer relationship and experience are one of the keys to business success, which makes me all the more pleased to be currently working on a project which suits my interests to gain more experience.
Melanie: I want to learn from every step of this program and from the different leaders that we meet to construct my own path moving forward. We are all from different backgrounds and cultures, and now we have a great opportunity to learn and grow into leaders at ADM. Our experience and learnings from the program can also make a difference to others who will take the same journey in the future.
Solène: The program is helping us grow faster and teaching us how to lead. For me, it’s about being part of this changing world and growing into a leadership role with a global worldview.