What it does: Energy management and automation
Staff stats: 160,000 globally
The good bits: Working for an industry-leading, global company
The not so good bits: Dealing with big-organisation bureaucracy
Hiring grads with degrees in: Engineering, Maths, IT & Computer Sciences; Finance, Accounting, Economics & Business Administration.
The Schneider Electric story
The roots of Schneider Electric can be traced back to 1836. That’s when two go-getting French brothers – Adolphe and Joseph-Eugene Schneider – took over an abandoned foundry and bought some mines in Le Creusot, France. Within a couple of years, the siblings had launched a company that would soon be producing heavy machinery and transportation equipment. That company subsequently entered the emerging electricity market, then the construction industry. By the turn of the 20th century, Schneider Group was a substantial, diversified conglomerate.
Two world wars in quick succession were a mixed blessing and in 1949 Charles Schneider restructured the business. In 1975, Schneider Group acquired an interest in Merlin Gerin, an industry-leading French company known for producing cutting-edge electrical distribution gear. From the 1980s onwards, the company both divested itself of its steel and shipbuilding assets and grew the electrical side of its business, chiefly through strategic acquisitions. These acquisitions included the purchase of iconic Australian (electrical accessories) company Clipsal in 2004. Having rebranded as Schneider Electric in 1999, the company has spent the last couples of decades pursuing growth opportunities in areas such building automation and security, energy management and smart grid applications.
Headquartered in Grenoble, France, Schneider Electric is now a Fortune 500 company. One that is traded on the Euronext Exchange. It has a presence in around 100 countries and 20,000 patents either active or pending. In 2016, it had revenue of just under €25 billion (A$40 billion).
Schneider Electric regards diversity as “a key element” of its competitive edge and something that “inspires our creativity and openness while benefiting our performance”.
The company seeks to mirror the diversity of the communities in which it operates. It promotes “respect for others’ unique values by providing an appropriate environment and resources, such as support communities and diversity-awareness training”. Furthermore, diversity is “an integral aspect of our management style, our targets and human resources processes”.
Schneider Electric has been particularly enthusiastic about championing gender equality. One industry-leading initiative it has introduced to make life more manageable for female staff is a ‘Global Family Leave Policy’. This allows staff (male and female) to take time off during “key life stages”. Such as “welcoming a new baby, taking care of sick or elderly family members, and mourning the loss of a family member”.
Schneider Electric sees itself on the front lines in the battle against climate change. It seeks to lessen the consumption of energy by creating products that help individuals and businesses achieve “better operational efficiency”.
In developing nations, the company is proud to be playing a role in bringing power to the 1.1 billion people in the world who don’t currently have access to reliable energy.
The Schneider Electric Foundation has an annual budget of around €4 million (A$6.5 million). It contributes to “the development of people and societies through education, innovation, awareness-raising and vocational training related to energy”. It has a presence in 75 countries. It has been involved in everything from supplying solar energy to Nigerian families, to providing electrician training in India, to running Women’s entrepreneurship programs in Brazil.
The recruitment process
While Schneider Electric doesn’t specify what personality traits it likes staff to have, grads will be expected to fit well into the corporate culture. This culture is “one where ideas are valued… [and which is] down to earth, practical, collaborative, and passionate about the global energy challenge”. Accordingly, applicants should be enthusiastic (especially about delivering excellent customer service). They should also be willing to “think outside the box”, straightforward in their communication style and up for a challenge.
If you’re planning on a career at Schneider Electric and in the second-last year of your degree, you’d be well-advised to apply for an internship. These are either completed full-time over the summer break or part-time over a period of 3-6 months. Interns are given the opportunity to “work on business-relevant projects, develop your skill set and gain industry experience”.
Like any large company, Schneider needs staff with a diverse range of skill sets and internships are available to “all undergraduates Australia-wide, who have permanent residency”. That noted, you’ll be best placed to receive an offer if you have a background in one of the following disciplines:
- Engineering (mechanical, electrical and mechatronics, computer science and software)
- Human resources
While those who’ve completed an internship have pole position, it appears that you can still apply for the two-year-long grad program without having done any work experience at the company. The company doesn’t reveal how its recruitment process unfolds. Nonetheless, those who’ve experienced it report it involves an online application, phone interview, online testing, assessment centre visit and final interview.
The grad program involves three rotations. It “provides opportunities for young professionals to explore a broad range of roles and businesses within Schneider Electric”. Grads have a “structured learning pathway”, “gain valuable work experience and develop specialised industry skills” and “interact with Schneider Electric employees across Australia and worldwide”. Grads are also assigned mentors who guide their development.
If you want a pay rise, you’ll need to demonstrate “sustained performance” based on “agreed goals and commended behaviours”. If you’re an above-average performer you can expect “differentiated levels of reward, recognition and opportunities”.
Grad salaries appear to be at or above the industry average. Employees have access to discounts on banking and insurance products, cars, clothes, electrical products and hotels. Staff also have access to a share-ownership scheme (four per cent of Schneider Electric’s shares are now employee-owned).
By the end of the grad program, you’ll have a deep understanding of Schneider Electric’s local and global operations, as well as a solid grounding in the company’s vision, values and culture. You can then expect the company to “provide the tools to aid your development”. All staff are encouraged to engage in professional development activities and provided with everything from learning opportunities to leadership coaching.
The vibe of the place
Schneider Electric is big on what it terms “Meaningful purpose”. The company’s meaningful purpose is to provide “reliable and safe energy to the planet”. It seeks out staff who are inspired by that mission and who want to take on “challenging roles [that involve] continual skill development [in a] high-performance culture”.
While the company expects a lot of its staff, it also looks after them well and has won countless ‘Best Employer’ awards all across the globe.
Star Rating: 3.6 stars
From the Employer:
Schneider Electric is the global specialist in energy management and automation. We embrace a high-performance culture by being straightforward, accepting of challenge, open, passionate and effective.
We see a change in our world more profound than ever, driven by a new scale and speed of urbanisation, digitisation and industrialisation. New technologies,enabling distributed and connected energy for the first time, challenge us to redefine the way we live our lives.
We believe access to energy is a basic human right. We want everyone on our planet to have access to safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable energy. At Schneider Electric, we’re committed to providing innovative solutions that address the energy paradox: balancing our planet’s carbon footprint with the irrefutable human right to quality energy.
We invent technologies that will transform places where we live, work and play. With our ingenious design philosophy we deliver solutions that integrate seamlessly into our environment, supporting the rhythm of our lives — empowering people to do more with less.
We create connected technologies that reshape industry, transform cities and enrich lives.
At Schneider, we call this Life Is On.