Lifting the lid on Tetra Pak’s grad scheme

Founded in Sweden in 1943, Tetra Pak is the world’s biggest food packaging company, employing around 25,000 people. The Student Engineer spoke to Gaby Youd, Director for Future Talent and Future Work, and Sara Enquist, Future Talent Graduate, about the company and its graduate schemes.  

Gaby Youd

Can you tell me a little bit about the origins of the Future Talent programme?

We decided to introduce a future talent programme because we wanted to develop a strategic approach to recruiting and developing our next generation of talent. We want to be able to build the competencies that are critical for our diverse customer needs, that we can’t easily build ourselves and ensure a good mix of technical and leadership talent pipeline. We wanted to do this by providing graduates an opportunity for their ‘first real job” and making a long-term commitment to do so. We started designing the programme in 2016 and hired our first cohort in 2017.

What type of people do you target?

We’re not looking for a certain personality type. Ultimately, we are looking for talented and highly motivated new graduates to join the programme and become the next generation of engineers and leaders in our industry.  We hire about 1/3 into our leadership track – this is across all functional areas in our company – and 2/3 into our technical track, where we focus on jobs in Services, Supply Chain Operations and Processing Solutions and Equipment and candidates with various engineering backgrounds/degrees: automation engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.

How many engineering grads does Tetra Pak take on each year under the scheme?

In 2018, 180 graduates joined our Future Talent programme bringing the total number recruited in two years to 350. Each year 80 are recruited to our leadership track and 120 are recruited to our technical track.

Are they all based in Sweden?

No, our 200 annual graduate programme positions span across the world and we hire in 30 countries. Graduates can apply for any of our global vacancies in locations such as China, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Germany and Sweden.

Is the one-year Technical Track the only one open to engineers, or is the Leadership Track also available?

Our technical organisations – Development & Engineering, Supply Chain Organisations, Services, Processing Solutions and Equipment – are looking for engineers for both the technical and the leadership track.

tetra pak

What are the major differences between the two?

Our leadership track is a two-year programme aimed to develop your leadership skills and give you broad business knowledge in an international environment. Our technical track is a one-year programme aimed to develop engineering and technical knowledge with more focus on a particular technical role in an accelerated way.

What is the gender balance like across the programme?

We’re continuously working hard to ensure that women feel empowered to enter the engineering profession through education, mentoring and showing the role models of female engineers we already have in our organisation. We can already see these efforts reflected in our results with females making up 44 per cent of the Future Talent leadership track, and 17 per cent of our technical track, where more needs to be done.

We’re also implementing flexible work schedules, career development webinars, diversity training and changing our recruitment processes to attract people from a wider range of backgrounds, genders and geographies.

Sara Enquist

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I have a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology and a master’s degree in Material Chemistry from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. During my studies in Material Chemistry, I developed an interest in industrially relevant materials, including both products that currently exist and the materials of the future. I’ll be completing my second year on the Future Talent leadership track shortly.

At university, I competed in the U25 National Swedish Dressage team and still very much enjoy training for competitions alongside my day job!

What attracted you to Tetra Pak and the Future Talent programme?

After graduating I wanted to work for a global company with sustainability and environment high on the agenda. Another wish was to work for a company that makes a difference and want to be technology leaders in their field.  From my material interest point of view Tetra Pak is also an exciting company with the packaging material and the technical challenges that follow.

What was the application process like?

I started by completing an online application form and then a video interview, since I was not living in Lund at that time. After that I went to Lund for a day of assessments. This consisted of a business presentation and a role play; it was less daunting than it sounds! I also got to meet trainees currently on the programme, who helpfully answered my questions and offered their perspective.

tetra pak
(Credit: Tetra Pak)

Where are you based?

I’m currently based in Lund, Sweden. I spent my university years in Gothenburg so it’s been exciting getting to know a new city.

What does a typical day look like?

A typical day on the Future Talent programme looks very different to the next! When on rotations you follow the team’s daily work as well as working on a given task. When I’m home between rotations, a day could involve everything from line work to assisting with different development projects. I particularly enjoy technical discussions on the results of different test runs in factories. Meeting new colleagues globally has been fun – but also enabled me to grow my professional network across the organisation.

What have you learned and what have been the biggest challenges?

Firstly, I’ve learnt about Tetra Pak as an organisation, how to work and drive large projects with people involved from around the world. I have also learned a lot about myself when going on rotations in Sweden and abroad, including Modena, Italy and Texas, US, and I have continued to develop my technical skills.

A challenge during the programme has been the nature of a rotation programme – when you start to pick up speed it is time to try something else in the organisation, but that also keeps it interesting!

How do you see your career developing at Tetra Pak?

When I graduate from the programme in September, I will start working in a packaging material development project as a Development Engineer in Applied Material Solutions in Lund.

The knowledge I gained, professionally and personally, during the programme and rotations will be helpful during my daily work and further develop my leadership competencies. I think there are many great career opportunities at Tetra Pak, not only to work in Lund but the possibility to work in an international environment abroad. Now that I’ve been working across the organisation already, I’m open to moving again. It’s exciting working in a truly international environment!