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Diversity in Action

Siemens Corp shapes a global workforce

Its International Engineering Program is a primary channel for recruitment. Students and employees must be linguistically proficient and ready to take on overseas assignments

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Mary Kordys: "We aim for 40 percent female and 20 percent minority candidates."

Mary Kordys: "We aim for 40 percent female and 20 percent minority candidates."

Siemens Corp is grooming a workforce that is culturally and linguistically prepared to work in a global environment. Toward that end it has developed an International Engineering Program (IEP), which puts students through rigorous onsite training both here and abroad. Students also study foreign languages and an academic curriculum developed by five partner universities.

The IEP program is just one of many ways that Siemens is growing a diverse workforce, says Mary Kordys, college relations manager for the U.S. operations of Siemens. The German-based corporation also reaches out to students through the Inroads program and is a corporate sponsor of diversity-focused organizations like NSBE, SHPE, SWE and the National Urban League. And it recruits at a wide range of ethnically diverse schools, including Michigan State U (Lansing, MI), which awards more graduate degrees to African American engineering students than any other Big Ten school. Students can also take advantage of internships and co-ops, which are feeders for entry-level jobs.

Kordys says many people don't realize the breadth of Siemens' technology-based services and products. Siemens is one of the world's largest electrical engineering and electronics companies, with divisions that serve the transportation, energy and automation, lighting, medical, power generation, building technologies and water filtration industries. "The reason Siemens is so big is because it has strategically bought companies in industries that match its business portfolio," Kordys says.

Five years ago the corporation consolidated college recruiting for all its business units. The IEP, because of its global influence, is one of Siemens' key recruiting channels, says Kordys. The program was created ten years ago by professor John Grandin of the University of Rhode Island (Kingston, RI); Siemens' participation began in 2003. In 2005-06 about twenty-five students participated, and Kordys wants to expand the program by 20 percent in 2007.

Siemens recruits for the IEP at a group of "core schools": Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA), the University of Florida (Gainesville, FL), Penn State University (State College, PA), Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN) and Texas A&M; University (College Station, TX). IEP students are also recruited at the University of Rhode Island. "We want to recruit the top 10 percent of students at each school, and the IEP helps us do that," Kordys says. "We know that we attract exceptional students to the IEP, because it takes so much intellect and drive to study both language and engineering."

Kordys notes that students who are not enrolled at any of the five participating universities can also apply to the program, but they must be above average academically and have some language proficiency.

IEP participants do at least one domestic internship in a Siemens operating company, and then work and study abroad for a year, usually in Germany. During their first summer abroad they're immersed in intensive cultural and language courses. Their goal is to be fluent in German by the time they enroll for the fall semester. In the fall they study engineering at a partner German university, such as the Technical University of Munich.

After students complete the fall semester, they work six months for a Siemens operating company in Germany. Typically they stay within the business group where they interned in the United States, says Kordys. German engineering students complete the same program, except they do their first internships in Germany and then come to the U.S. to study engineering and perfect their English.

Properly preparing this generation of new graduates is important, because many Siemens managers are approaching retirement, and most of them have transatlantic responsibilities. Those who will replace them have to be culturally and linguistically literate as well as technically adept.

People who aspire to be managers should be willing to take international assignments during their careers, and be flexible with their work schedules and demands, Kordys emphasizes. "It's not enough for people to just be technically brilliant. They really need soft skills, which can propel them into management and leadership."

Siemens business units have a variety of technical needs. At the U.S. power generation business, for example, Siemens seeks mechanical and electrical engineers. The power generation business handles the design, manufacture and installation of combustion turbine equipment. Mechanical engineers work on combustion turbines and auxiliary systems. Electrical engineers focus on steam turbine engines and generators.

Manufacturing locations need industrial engineers. Manufacturing facilities in the U.S. are in Charlotte, NC and Fort Payne, AL. There is also a plant in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and "quite a bit of manufacturing" at various locations in Germany.

Siemens Power Generation hires new engineering grads primarily through its internship and co-op programs. Rising juniors are the preferred applicants. There are about 100 interns and co-ops annually. "We aim for about 40 percent female and 20 percent minority candidates," Kordys says. "Last year 40 percent of our candidates were diverse."

The U.S. operations of Siemens have an aggressive college recruiting strategy. Specific operating companies are assigned to work directly with a university's key professors and student groups like NSBE to identify top talent. For example, in Orlando, the power generation business unit has a strong relationship with the University of Florida, a Siemens "core school," and the University of Central Florida, which is right across the street from corporate HQ.

When new grads join the company full time, they're offered formal training and mentoring programs, Kordys says. A company-wide rotational campus development program gives students in-depth technical experience in several different departments. Each Siemens operating company tailors the program to develop the technical and leadership talent its own business units need.

As part of the Siemens diversity strategy, affinity groups have been established in various operating companies, Kordys reports. There are African American, Asian and women's resource groups, geared to provide mentoring opportunities and professional speakers to help with career development.

"Our diversity vision is to be a multicultural organization with diversity at all levels," Kordys says. "We want to capture the strengths of our differences and leverage them for competitive advantage."


Siemens Corp

Headquarters: New York, NY (U.S.)
Employees: 460,000 worldwide
Revenues: $18 billion U.S., $96 billion worldwide
Business: World's third-largest electrical engineering and electronics company
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