The secret to success, according to Mrs Lord.
Are there any smart tips applicants need to know in order to be selected for the Volvo Cars Mechanical Engineering Programme? Any magic words or special skills guaranteed to dazzle the selection committee? Ulrika Lord is the right woman to turn to for the secrets of success – that is, if they really exist!
Ulrika has worked at Volvo Cars for 18 years in a number of positions. For the last four years she’s held the title of Manager Mechanical Integration in a department responsible for leading the integration of the mechanical systems solutions and balance with design and attributes into a complete vehicle. Ulrika has been involved with the Mechanical Engineering Programme since it started up in 2014. Ulrika tells us about her experiences.
“The aim of the programme is to recruit the best, most highly motivated young talents out there. Working together with us they can develop their skills and become top class engineers, building the world’s greatest products for Volvo Cars. The aims are high, expectations great and the programme challenging, but Volvo Cars invests a great deal of time, support and commitment to make it work. Well over 500 talented young individuals from all over the world apply to the programme each year. When the initial selection process is complete, just 20 remain. The 10 recruiting managers must then select 10 candidates from the final pool of 20 who they rate most highly for the Mechanical Engineering Programme. After final selection takes place, each graduate is employed at a department within the company. Two years later, following three job rotations and project work completed alongside other graduates, the graduates return to the department where they were based from the start. I’ve had the privilege to be a “Home Manager” for three graduates.”
Personality carries great weight
So what kind of personalities are Ulrika and her team looking for? Are the smart, brilliant, top-of-the-class students with ground-breaking project work and scores of scholarships at the front of the queue? Not if you ask Ulrika.
“Of course we look at their CV, experience and academic background, but we also put a lot of emphasize on personalities with their own drive and energy. People who show passion and have a desire for learning. Curiosity, openness and a solution-orientated approach are qualities we value very highly. We can provide technique and know-how once the graduates are here, but it’s difficult to change someone’s personality. It’s not today’s Volvo Cars which will form the individual, but the individual which is to shape the Volvo Cars of tomorrow.
Recipe for success
A job interview is a stressful situation which is enough to give anyone sweaty palms and a resting pulse you’d expect when escaping from an angry bear. After holding many interviews with nervous, expectant graduates, Ulrika has the greatest respect for the challenge faced.
“It’s tough, without a doubt. The candidates are young and many of them come straight from university, and this is a big chance to get an exciting job. They’re keen to show what they have to offer and do themselves justice. If you ever end up sitting in front of me or one of my colleagues though, this is the best advice I have: ANALYSE YOUR STRENGTHS, HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR CHARACTER AND AIMS AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, BE YOURSELF! It really is as easy (or complicated!) as that.”
Accelerate and brake
So how does Ulrika see her role as a “Home Manager”?
“In a nutshell, it’s up to me to create the best conditions to ensure our new employees are successful. My main task is to inspire, challenge and listen. I also guide them in the industrial world that can be quite different from the academic one. Sometimes it’s faster but many times it’s more complex and a task can take longer time to finish which can cause frustration. In return, the programme and its graduates have made a strong, positive impression throughout the organisation. When the programme started in 2014 it was new and untested, but the word has spread. Over time, more and more managers have grown to appreciate how fresh, inquiring eyes and ears can contribute to Volvo Car’s development.”
Ulrika on working at Volvo Cars:
“Volvo Cars has retained its roots by focusing mainly on people. There are two categories – customers and employees – and both carry equal importance. The commitment to achieving a work-life balance is smart, putting people first. When employees strike a balance between their private and working lives this creates a harmonious organisation where people feel good and thrive. And people who feel good and thrive tend to do good work and come up with great products. This is why Volvo Cars is a company where people stay for a long time and welcome others. And being here in the role of a Home Manager for the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Programme is for me the icing on the cake.”
Ulrika’s three words to describe the Volvo Cars Mechanical Engineering Programme:
Fun, challenging and versatile.
What is Ulrika’s hidden talent:
“To pop really good popcorn and not sharing them”