The journey to the interview for the Global Graduate Program turned into a nightmare, but the warm reception at Sandvik the day after made him feel right at home.
Six months before completing his Master’s degree in engineering, 26-year-old Jonathan Bergström was still considering what graduate program to pursue. But a nightmare journey to the interview for the Sandvik Global Graduate Program ended up giving him all the clarity he needed. “The way they handled my travel ordeal really impressed me. The company culture blew my mind.”
In the winter of 2019, Bergström was scheduled to take the train from his hometown in Gothenburg, Sweden to attend an admissions interview at the Sandvik offices in Sandviken, 500 kilometers northeast. But a brutal snowstorm quickly turned his six-hour train ride into a long-drawn nightmare. “Train after train got cancelled, and after finally making it to Stockholm I missed my connection,” he recalls. “I ended up finding a last-minute bus that would bring me the last stretch, but by then it was already in the middle of the night.”
A warm first impression
Bergström grew increasingly stressed and called the company-run hotel he was being put up in – his first real contact with the Sandvik family. “They were so kind and reassuring, and when I finally arrived it felt like coming home.” The next day, after attending the interview and only briefly mentioning his travel ordeal, he received a phone call telling him Sandvik would pay all the bills related to his problematic journey.
“I had barely mentioned it and hadn’t even walked the 200 meters back to my hotel when they contacted me to tell me,” he says.
For Bergström, the encounter with the Sandvik culture was a revelation, and a key factor in his decision to join nine other recruits in the Sandvik Global Graduate Program a few months later. “My first impression has rung true ever since. I can see why so many people stay here for life.”
In September, 2019, Bergström embarked on the 15-month-long program, alternating between teacher-facilitated learning modules and three on-site placements, all the while being supported by a Sandvik mentor. “The placements really play their part because you learn how the different units work together, and during the learning modules you get to meet top managers and learn about their Sandvik journeys.”
Working remotely from home
His first on-site posting was with the Strip division at Sandvik Materials Technology in Sandviken, where he worked on a yield improvement project that included developing a new tool to analyze how much of the production was going to scrap.
The second posting was meant to be in Japan, “but just as I had booked all my tickets and organized where to live, Covid-19 came along and ruined those plans,” he laughs, and explains how he instead joined his Japanese colleagues at Sandvik Machining Solutions remotely from his home-office in Sweden.
This was also the most challenging part of the program, “especially keeping up with the Japanese time zone”. His project revolved around sustainability and how the division could improve one of its production supply chains by replacing airplane transports with sea transports.
Bergström’s third and last placement was at a Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions unit in Ireland, but once again, the global pandemic came in the way of any travel. “I’ve become more of a local graduate than a global graduate,” he jokes, and explains how he supported the unit in preparing for a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform. “It was really exciting to be a part of because it’s a huge eight-year project that is just starting up, and I got to be involved in the recruitment process, and assist in presentations to top management and so on.”
Bergström, who today works as Change Leader – meaning he leads different improvement projects, from production and logistics to finance - at the Sandvik Coromant powder production unit in Gimo, says the Global Graduate Program has taught him more in 1.5 years “than I otherwise would have learned in three.”
Based: Gimo, Sweden
Education: M.Sc. Industrial Engineering and Management, M.Sc. Supply Chain
Management, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden
Work: Change Leader, Sandvik Coromant
Hobbies: To enjoy good food and wine with friends and family (in non-Covid times)