Simply studying was not enough for Chiara Euler. It was important to her to gain practical experience during her studies. “I wanted to know what makes a company tick and to build a network,” says the now 24-year-old. While many of her friends were working in restaurants or helping out at gas stations during vacations, she already had a varied and well-paid job – for Viessmann in Allendorf (Eder). “Independence is very important to me,” she says. That’s why she wanted to earn money from the very beginning. The practical component is part of “Studium Plus,” the cooperative education program of the University of Applied Sciences of Central Hesse. So, at the age of 17, Chiara did not apply for a place at university but for a position as a cooperative education student at Viessmann. The place on the Business Administration course was then practically part of the package. “It was an amazing feeling to be accepted directly into a company,” she says.
Focus on the employees
The course – Business Administration with a specialization in SME Management – was pretty exclusive, with only five fellow students at Chiara’s site in her semester. She completed the practical phases at Viessmann. In the process, she got to know many business areas of the company and built up a network. “It was clear to me that I wanted to work in a more technology-oriented company to complement my business studies,” she explains. She was fully convinced by Viessmann in the interview alone. “The HR employee made me feel like I’d made his day,” she recalls. “The focus here is on the employees.” She found that appealing.
That was one of the best experiences of my life so far.
Chiara completed five different internships during her studies at Viessmann. One of these was in market research: “I had the chance to go to China for three months,” she says. There, she oversaw the first customer satisfaction survey that Viessmann conducted in the People’s Republic. “I’d wanted to go overseas since the beginning of my studies, preferably to China. That was one of the best experiences of my life so far.”
Co-creation is increasingly important
She has experienced the change from the very beginning. She had already been with Viessmann for two years when Max Viessmann joined the company in 2016 and set up a digital task force of which Chiara was a member. “What really fascinates me about Viessmann: I don’t know any other company that changes so quickly and adapts so swiftly to the demands of the market and the environment,” says Chiara. “Everyone understood why digitalization and cultural change are so important to us.” Max Viessmann managed to get people on board and set the course for the future, she says. “The culture has changed dramatically. And today we also have lots of attractive new jobs in the company that are particularly interesting to young people.” The way we work has also changed enormously. “In the past, Viessmann always found its own solutions. Now we often work on development with partners. Co-creation is a central element of our daily work.”
Safeguarding future success
Chiara has been working in the Innovation Management team since 2017, she even wrote her bachelor thesis on the subject. She looks after the internal innovation platform “ViCreate”. “Every employee can become an entrepreneur in the company,” Chiara explains. “We provide the methods and tools for this: for example, how to write a business plan. Above all, we give people a platform to bring their ideas to the top management relatively quickly, so they can get the resources they need.” This makes the entire innovation process transparent because everyone in the company can see and comment on what happens on the innovation platform. “Hierarchies don’t matter,” Chiara emphasizes. “Our goal is to make sure Viessmann stays successful in the future.”
Every employee can become an entrepreneur in the company.
Over the course of time, the focus of her work has changed, she reports. At the beginning, it was on the company transformation, making it digitally fit. “Now that we have implemented and internalized this, the focus is on how we can create added value for our customers from the ideas that come from inside and outside the company,” says Chiara. “We now have a great deal of attention for the topics on our platform – also from management. We are currently working on more than 50 projects at once, which is a challenge and a lot of fun, and I learn something new every day!”
One of the projects that Chiara has accompanied from the idea to the successful execution is the FörderProfi (grant pro). The state provides financial support for switching to environmentally friendly heating systems. Yet many homeowners do not take advantage of this because the applications for the support programs are costly and lengthy. “The FörderProfi team has changed this,” Chiara explains. “You can submit your application quickly and easily to them, and you will get immediate feedback as to whether the system is eligible for a grant or not.” This is not only good for the environment but also for the authorities, who can now actually pay out money – and for Viessmann, because the customer may now be able to afford an even more convenient heating system.
The Leadership Program: an amazing experience
Another “amazing experience” for Chiara is taking part in the company’s Leadership Program. There are 30 young people in the program and Viessmann sees great potential in them to take on a leadership role one day. “What is particularly exciting is that it is a cross-functional team from the entire company, from branch managers to technicians,” Chiara believes. Here she is learning the skills and tools she needs to lead a team herself. Maybe even in China.