28.04.2023 | Bigger, better, bolder in supporting our future talent
With the end of studies fast approaching, many graduates dread that “jump into the cold water”, not always knowing how their academic qualifications will translate into the corporate world. Here’s where an innovative traineeship programme comes in, helping young talent to discover a company in a holistic fashion, while allowing fresh thinking, projects and ideas to take root. Add to the mix the possibility of working abroad and you’ve got the recipe for the perfect start to one’s career. In this article we look at how Axpo enhanced its traineeship programme, see what our latest trainees say, and hear from our management on the vision for the programme.
Axpo’s newest cohort of nine trainees began their journey with the Group on 1 April 2023, with the start of our latest traineeship programme.
The programme, which helps bring young talent and fresh perspectives to Axpo, has grown substantially from when we first established it in 2013. From only being able to accept three university graduates a year, the group-wide programme has since more than tripled: we now recruit around 14 trainees every year.
Trainees on the 18-month programme are given the opportunity to put their knowledge into practice, contribute to challenging tasks, drive their own projects, and make a difference – for example by pushing the energy industry towards a more efficient and sustainable future.
Aside from developing our future talent, Axpo’s traineeship programme helps us build synergies within our teams and transfer know-how. Supporting young, smart people at the start of their careers is just one of the ways of in which we’re tackling the talent war, while also developing an attractive employer brand and sustainably supporting the Group’s long-term growth strategy.
Our traineeship programme has two intakes a year, in April and October, with at least seven trainees starting at each intake. Over the course of 18 months, trainees complete three assignments, all of which are structured to give them maximum exposure to the business and energy industry.
While the first assignment is always fixed, the trainees may choose their other assignments based on their interests, in whichever business division they are drawn to. All business divisions can have trainees as part of their teams.
The traineeship is a group-wide project and as of 1 April 2023, we have 23 trainees: 16 are based at Axpo Switzerland, 5 at CKW, and 2 at Axpo Polska. The traineeship in Poland acts as a pilot project for further expanding the programme at an international level in the future.
Axpo trainees may do one assignment at CKW and CKW trainees may do one assignment at Axpo. Trainees are also given the opportunity to work at one of our international hubs, including at our subsidiary company Urbasolar.
By working across different departments and with various teams, trainees can learn from and be supported by our diverse network of professionals. At the same time, they can build their own connections and develop their expertise.
Ultimately, we want both the trainees and the business to benefit as much as possible from the programme and are hopeful that this enriching experience will result in permanent employment with Axpo for all trainees.
Each trainee is given a mentor at the start of the programme. The mentor – usually someone in a management position within the trainee’s field – supports the trainee with both their professional and personal development. This includes sharing experiences, providing guidance on which assignments to take, encouraging the trainee to reflect and consider different perspectives, and helping them develop their network.
Our line-up of current mentors is nothing short of impressive: Group Chief Risk Officer, Chief Analytics Officer, Head of Asset Management, Head of Nuclear Fuels, Chief Data Officer, and Head of Models and Optimisation.
We wanted to hear first-hand from our trainees who started on 1st April. Here are their first impressions.
“As I value sustainability, Axpo immediately caught my attention with its largely carbon-neutral power generation portfolio. Since Axpo is active across the entire value chain, from trading to generation, there are many possibilities for exploring different areas. I hope to develop a broader understanding of the energy sector through the rotations. I think the strength of the traineeship is in being able to explore various teams and roles, so that you can see where you fit best,” says Sebastiaan Mulder, Trainee Nuclear Engineering.
“It has been the ideal start to my professional life. I was very warmly welcomed and have met many nice people. In the space of a few weeks, I attended interesting talks and learned lots about the company and energy production. I like the informal atmosphere (“Du-Kultur”) as it makes it much easier to talk to and get to know people across various teams. I am using this opportunity to the fullest, to learn and see what is possible to achieve within 18 months,’’ notes Milena Keller, Trainee Renewable Energies with CKW.
Fabienne Voser started as a trainee in Axpo’s finance department in October 2021. Today, she’s a financial controller for the generation & distribution division. Fabienne recommends that young graduates start their careers with a traineeship, as it provides an opportunity to see many different parts of the business, choose the topics one’s passionate about and work in several teams within a short period of time.
“The ability to gain insights into a variety of subjects is a big plus. For example, the area of hydrogen was not something I was familiar with before my traineeship. During my rotation in the hydrogen team, I became fascinated with hydrogen’s potential for our future energy mix. Having completed my traineeship, I was happy to return to the generation & distribution division, where one part of my job is to provide the controlling function for the hydrogen subdivision. As hydrogen remains a new field, my position enables me to support the setup of the new controlling framework.”
“The tight-knitted trainee community is another advantage. We learned from each other how other departments work and what innovative projects are being implemented. Visits to the power plants and other Axpo facilities allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of how they work in practice as well as how my work directly supports the country’s security of supply,” Fabienne added.
We also spoke to Axpo Chief Operations Officer Henriette Wendt about the management team’s broader vision for the programme.
Our ambition is for Axpo to be the most attractive employer, not just for trainees and young graduates, but for all talent. We are a growing international business with a broad variety of activities and many exciting roles, appealing to a broad audience.
In today’s job market it is important to stand out. We believe our traineeship programme is the best way for young talent to learn about the fast-moving energy industry and to grow through very different opportunities: from solar power development to data analytics and commodities trading.
Our trainees get to make an impact on the Swiss and European energy transition, through Axpo’s development, production and trading of energy. In fact, during last year’s turbulent times, Axpo contributed significantly to the Swiss security of supply with CO2-free energy. We are committed to supporting the energy transition over the long term. Our trainees can be part of this, in Switzerland and possibly in other European countries thanks to the programme rotation.
We offer an excellent opportunity for trainees to learn and grow. To discover not only the fascinating business activities and technologies at Axpo, but the energy industry too. Learning from talented and experienced professionals at Axpo, while building up a network inside the company, is the perfect start to one’s professional career. And at Axpo, we also want to learn from you!
Does the trainee programme spark your curiosity, or do you know of someone who might be interested? The openings for our next trainee intake – Trainee Generation 14 – which starts on 1 October 2023, are available here: Axpo and CKW.