What it does: Creates implantable hearing solutions
Staff stats: 3000 across the globe
The good bits: Doing interesting work that changes lives
The not so good bits: Lots of bureaucratic hoops to jump through
The Cochlear story
Growing up in 1950s Australia, Graeme Clark had a close relationship with his father. However, it was not quite as close as it might otherwise have been given the communication challenges posed by Clark Senior being deaf. Clark devoted his adult life to curing deafness and went a long way towards achieving his goal.
By 1970, he was a Professor at the University of Melbourne. By 1978 he had invented and implanted the first ‘cochlear implant’ (the cochlea is a spiral cavity within the inner ear). By 1981, Cochlear Limited, commonly referred to as just Cochlear, was a commercial business with an office in Sydney.
Over the past four decades, the technology has continued to evolve and the company to expand. Having listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1995, the company now dominates the global hearing implant industry. It has annual revenues north of $1 billion a year.
Cochlear has long been a global business. It has staff hailing from 75 different nationalities, with Australians, Chinese, Filipinos and Vietnamese being well represented. Unusually for a tech company, half of all Cochlear’s full-time employees are female, as are a third of the senior leadership. The business runs leadership development programs for high-performing female employees, as well as facilitating a ‘Women in Leadership’ network. Cochlear’s philosophy is that it is enriched by diversity and that actively fostering it “helps the Company create an inclusive culture that attracts and retains the best talent”. Cochlear’s global annual employee turnover is in single digits, which suggests staff believe they are treated well by the company.
Like many tech companies, Cochlear does what it can to promote STEM careers through sponsoring and participating in various functions and activities. These include the Cochlear Autumn School of Engineering, National Youth Science Forum and STEMsmart. The company’s employees also feel a sense of mission about transforming customers’ lives by providing them with safe, reliable and top quality technology that allows them to hear and communicate with others.
The recruitment process
Cochlear has long invested in graduate recruitment to identify the “engineering leaders of the future”. Over the last decade, the company has had a formal graduate program which seeks to scoop up top talent from Australian universities. The program aims to “build a pipeline of people for product development, manufacturing and quality roles within the business”.
To be eligible to apply for a place in Cochlear’s Graduate Engineering Program you need to have done its Summer Student Program. This program is run in Sydney and Brisbane and open to those in their second-last year of study in the following disciplines:
- Electronic/Electrical Engineering
- Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineering
- Material Science
- Software Engineering
- Manufacturing – Production / Process / New Product Introduction
Getting accepted into the Summer Student Program involves completing an online application. If you make the cut, you’ll proceed to online assessment and a round of interviews. During the application process, you should keep in mind the global behavioural competencies underpin Cochlear’s corporate culture. They are:
*Hear the Customer
*Embrace Change & Innovate
*Aspire to Win
Your performance during the Summer Student Program will be reviewed by your sponsor. You’d be wise to show them how well you work with others to get things done if you want to be in the running for a grad position down the track. Thanks to Cochlear’s enthusiasm for gender equality, while female students account for only 20 per cent of applications they make up nearly half of the grad program intake.
The 3 year grad program involves receiving technical and leadership training, getting on-the-job experience as you rotate through different business areas for the first 12 months and being provided with coaching and mentoring. The aim is to “take you from a fresh graduate to an industry-leading professional by the end of the program”.
While in the grad program, you can expect to earn around the industry average for a grad engineer. Bonuses don't apply. There are discounts on gym memberships and some retail goods. There’s plenty of food around the office, as well as occasional team dinners. There are also opportunities for overseas secondments.
In 2016, Cochlear took out the gong for ‘Best Graduate Employer in the R&D, Engineering and Manufacturing’ category in The Australian’s Top 100 Graduate Employers awards. The company was recognised for its commitment to integrating grads into its organisation, developing them holistically by giving them exposure to a range of business functions, and working with them to create attractive career-development plans.
While you can expect to be promoted if you deserve it, low employee turnover means you’ll need to be patient while waiting for opportunities to arise.
The vibe of the place
As might be expected given the preponderance of engineers and commitment to gender balance, the culture at Cochlear is businesslike but collaborative and supportive. There is a flat structure and you shouldn’t be surprised if a Head of Department sits next to you in the lunchroom and strikes up a conversation. Staff at Cochlear are proud to, firstly, be creating product that facilitate human connection and happiness and, secondly, to be working for one of the few world-class tech companies Australia has produced.
Star Rating: 4.5 stars
From the employer:
"Cochlear Limited is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions for the hearing impaired.
Today, Cochlear is a global company with principal manufacturing facilities in Australia and Sweden, with additional manufacturing facilities in Belgium and the United States. Cochlear has its global headquarters on campus at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and has regional headquarters in Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas. Cochlear has direct operations in 20 countries and about 2,700 employees. Over 350,000 people, across more than 100 countries, now hear because of Cochlear.
Cochlear develops a range of products including cochlear implants, bone conduction implants and acoustic implants, which address different types of hearing loss. Whether these hearing solutions were implanted today or many years ago, Cochlear guarantees that new technologies and innovations are available to its recipients. The company invests over $100 million each year in research and development and currently participates in over 100 collaborative research programs worldwide.
Cochlear’s promise is ‘Hear now. And always’ – to provide recipients with the best possible hearing and support for the rest of their lives."