If somebody would have told me that I 3 hours into my internship at Oerlikon Solar would start drawing up supplier selection strategies for one of their more advanced machines I would have just laughed. I had always heard that interns get to start slowly with the mundane tasks like doing research on the internet, prepare PowerPoint slides and crunch numbers in Excel. Nevertheless that is how my internship at the Supply Chain Management office at Oerlikon Solar started.
But maybe I should start from the beginning. Sadly enough I have
not been super-active in ESTIEM. I have helped arranging a TIMES semi-final with my LG (Linköping), participated in TIMES (in Grenoble) and I participated in the ESTIEM Summer Academy in 2007 with teacher Jim Platts (something I very much can recommend by the way). I have however been a subscriber to the ESTIEM Newsletter since maybe 2005 and when I got the internship ad for “Global Benchmarking” at Oerlikon Solar it was too tempting not to apply. Simplified, Oerlikon Solar sells solar panel factories. The daughter company of Oerlikon OC does its own research on the thin film solar panels and develops the key machines in the solar panel factories. Oerlikon Solar sells the factories “turn-key”, meaning it also takes responsibility for that the factories have a certain capacity before they
“hand over the keys to the factory”. The starting price for a factory being around a 100 millon USD it is quite obvious that the economic crises have struck the company hard. Money for investments is hard to find these days. The financial hardship also threatened my internship but after having spent a couple of week in the frustrating
situation of having won the application process and still maybe not getting the chance to work, I could pack my bags and head down to Switzerland.
After a couple of days in the office I quickly noticed there was something special about Oerlikon Solar, or at least the people working there. Despite being in the country side right next to Liechtenstein, a 100km from Zürich the people working there come from literally all over the world. I have met people from France (both continental France and La Réunion), Austalia, Japan, South America, Jordan, India and
Norway. Most of the people are of course still from Switzerland, Austria and Germany but the atmosphere is very international and very open. My second week there I got invited to the “Trainee house” (yes you guessed right, it iss were the visiting Oerlikon trainees live) for beer and barbeque offered on the house.
I have studied Supply Chain Management and Purchasing and it has been great to discover I could make use of some of what I have learnt at university, during my internship. Despite the economic downturn the buyers in S theCM office are quite busy with the day to day tasks. My job has often been to put the extra hours into tasks that they have not had time for. So far I have worked with linking the strategic goals of Oerlikon Solar with a specific supplier selection strategy. When I write this I am working with two SAP tools that are used for supplier rating and supplier benchmarking respectively. In addition, I am also looking into risk management connected to Oerlikon Solar’s suppliers. All in all, I have been fortunate enough to work with many of the key fields in SCM and on a quite strategic level. I would recommend anyone interested in a future career in SCM/Purchasing to do an internship at Oerlikon Solar.