Job Swap: Seeing the world from a different perspective

Career at thyssenkrupp | Job Swap is an opportunity to gain new experience and grow personally and professionally. Wondering how it works? It’s really simple: thyssenkrupp colleagues from all over the world exchange workplaces with a swap partner for up to three weeks. The idea of experiencing a completely different day-to-day routine, getting to know new working cultures and discovering unknown places sounds good, doesn’t it? We think so too.

The Job Swap program has just celebrated its first anniversary and is now an established part of our corporate culture. On a dedicated platform colleagues can create their Job Swap profile and search for an ideal swap partner. More than 12,000 users have visited the platform in the last year.

We asked two people who have already completed their “swap experience” – Yanni Chen, Learning Manager at the thyssenkrupp “seed campus” in Shanghai, and Fiona Voigt, Training Coordinator at the thyssenkrupp Headquarters in Essen – how it felt to swap workplaces. Both are involved in employee training on a day-to-day basis – but that’s not essential for a Job Swap, colleagues can also come from completely different areas.

How did the Job Swap work for you both?

Fiona: “Many people think they will be thrown in at the deep end and suddenly find themselves left alone with new tasks. Even though the name might give that impression, you don’t actually have to swap in parallel. What we decided to do was more mutual job shadowing. For example for two weeks I accompanied my swap partner Yanni in her day-to-day work at the “seed campus” – an employee training center in Shanghai. And even though we work in the same area I learnt some completely new processes there. It may be the same business, but a totally different approach is taken.”

Yanni: “Two weeks after Fiona visited Shanghai I traveled to Essen in Germany. The colleagues there were keen to talk to me: Everyone wanted to swap notes for example about implementing E-learning and talent management. So not only did I gain many new impressions, I was also able to help colleagues learn.”

You both work in employee development. Did you still notice differences?

Yanni: “In Germany I immediately noticed that the focus is more on the individual employee when it comes to training. In China it’s all about the group. What I particularly enjoyed was the close collaboration in an experienced team in Essen. Colleagues talk to each other a lot and plan everything carefully before they act. In China you usually work through a clearly structured process.”

And your conclusion? What have you learnt from your experience?

Fiona: When I prepare a new employee training program now I ask myself whether it’s possible to approach the task in a different way and whether there’s an alternative to the obvious solution. I try to look at things from various perspectives because it’s clearer to me now that there are always a variety of possible approaches. The experience in Shanghai has also strengthened my belief in my own work. And of course I also enjoyed a lot of cultural experiences: At the weekends Yanni took me to places away from the tourist centers which I would never have seen on my own. It was a very intensive time. She showed how people in China really live.”

Yanni: “I think we are able to work together even better now – also across borders. The Job Swap has not only enabled us to get to know each other’s workplace and approach better but also to bring our colleagues something from “overseas”: knowledge and new insights. Me and Fiona agree: The exchange has been both personally and professionally enriching.”

Want to know what else goes on at seed campus? Have a look here:

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