2019 – 2021: WE build the future with Z NEXT!

The start of the Zeppelin trainee program

Do you want to start your future career in a company full of history? Then get ready for Zeppelins trainee program and become the next Zeppeliner with Z NEXT!
The program started in October 2019 with four trainees: One of them works in the After Sales Management at the construction equipment department in Garching (Germany). Another one works at the HR department, also being located at the Zeppelin headquarters in Garching. The other two trainees do project management at the power systems department in Bremen (Germany). Are you curious what it’s like to be a Zeppelin trainee? We’ve talked to Lisa Hoffmann about her experience as one of the first Zeppelin trainees ever:

Lisa Hoffmann, 28 years

M.A. International Business & Economics

Trainee Construction Equipment Department / After Sales Management

Garching near Munich

Trainee start: October 2019

Lisa, before we dive into the interview give us some short info about yourself. How would you describe yourself in three hashtags?

I would describe myself as a #ZNEXTtrainee. I’m part of the first generation of the program. I think one of the hashtags that go along with this is #curiosity. The other one is that I see myself as an #ambassador.

I’m really curious about what is expecting me in the next year. And I was very curious for the two years when I started my traineeship as we are going to see so many different branches and get to know the construction industry as well. Working at the different branches is a good opportunity to experience but also spread the “WE are Zeppelin” vibe – that’s what I mean by being an #ambassador.

What is your background? What have you studied at university?

I did my bachelor in business administration in Düsseldorf (Germany) with the focus on marketing and international management. After that, I made my master in international business and economics at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart (Germany). During my master, I also worked in the truck industry in the fields of product management for spare parts and in after sales management. Thus, I got some first insights there. I really enjoyed that, because it’s a very broad field where you have many different tasks.

You’re one of the first Zeppelin trainees so far! Congratulations! How did you know about Z NEXT?

Actually, it was by accident. When I was looking for a job in spring 2019, one day there was a job offer on after sales management and it was a trainee. I was like: GREAT! I want to do a trainee and I want to work in after sales management. You hardly ever see a job description exactly like that, so I just had a look at it and the program really sounded great. And then I thought, give it a try, and here I am now!

Why did you choose Zeppelin to do the trainee program? What is special about
Z NEXT in your opinion?

One of the things, that were most important to me, was that I didn’t want to be “just a number”. At Zeppelin, you can still be the human that you are, you can be you. And that’s something that I really like about the company. Another reason was that Zeppelin offers a lot of diversity and variety: With the business partner Caterpillar, we have close relations to the US, but we also have a big network within Europe and that offers many different opportunities for working abroad.

For me, Z NEXT stands for not just being the next Zeppeliner but for creating the next Zeppelin. We are the employees of the future (hopefully!) and we get the opportunity to create the Zeppelin of tomorrow which is a really great chance.

How did the application process work? How did you experience the selection interviews? What was the most difficult task you had to overcome that day?

We had to submit a regular online application; the next step was the telephone interview with a person from the HR department and the future supervisor. The interview was basically about getting to know each other and getting to know my motivation for the program.

The second step was the assessment center. I think that was the most challenging part. All applicants came to Garching, so you also met your competitors for the job position you applied for, which was not easy. I think the most important thing in an assessment center is to stay authentic, even in that competitive situation. All of you want to have the position, but you also have to fit in the group somehow.

The day started with a brief salutation through Peter Gerstmann, which was a highlight of the day. It really shows, the appreciation of the traineeship. After that, some further introductions followed and then, the selection process started. We had to do different tasks and you were under supervision and pressure the whole day. But it was worth it: The next day, I got a call and I was offered the job!

The trainee program started with an Onboarding day in Garching. How do you remember the first day?

Our trainee onboarding day was organized by Silke Feldbauer, who is responsible for the trainee program at Zeppelin. The onboarding day took place at the Hotel Schloss Hohenkammer near Munich (Germany). We had a wonderful day! There was an afternoon session where we had an introduction to the specific trainee organization. Then we had a teambuilding event in the afternoon, where we played different games outside, which was so much fun. For example, we had to build a case for a raw egg. Then we had to throw the egg down and the case, which protected the egg best, won. My team used straws and different tapes to cover the egg. And it didn’t break! We’ve created a solution, not pretty, but it worked. To make the day complete, we had an evening event, where Ms. Mebus, Labor Director at Zeppelin, joined us for dinner, to get to know us – that truly was a huge token of appreciation!

You work in the After Sales Management at the construction equipment department here in Garching. Can you tell us a little bit more about your tasks?

The exact department is Sales and Service. The two fields I’m working in are product management for spare parts on the one hand, and sales and service support on the other. Product management for spare parts is about managing and promoting spare parts for construction machines. Each product segment has a product manager. Some of my tasks here were, for example, to make a catalog for spare parts, I’ve worked on reports about different product groups, or I was involved in a project to improve the trainings for our service consultants and sales managers.

The other half is service and sales support. In Germany, we have an online platform where customers can monitor their machines and do some online shopping for spare parts. I did a lot of support there, e.g. I’ve created a marketing concept to improve the online sales and I worked for the customer hotline to support our customers. Overall, it’s a very broad field.

Throughout the program, the trainees also work in other departments to get to know Zeppelin and to broaden their network. Right now, you work in the Group Development here in Garching (Germany). What do you do there at the moment? And where do you go next?

I currently support a project about time management. Particularly, I support the communication and training stream in the project. Apart from that, I do the reporting on Zeppelin’s idea management. In January 2021, I probably start to work at the Service Technology Training department, also here in Garching.

Throughout the program, our trainees get different trainings (e.g. project management, intercultural trainings, business games, resilience and self-reflection trainings and mentoring). In which one did you already participate? What did you learn?

I already participated in the agile project management training in Berlin in the beginning of this year. We started with a visit at Z Lab, Zeppelin’s digital think tank, as a “kick off” event, and got an overview about their projects. An external trainer did the training with us where we met participants from other departments as well. It was very great to learn more about agile methods like SCRUM and KANBAN. In the end we had to do a case study together: Our task was to build a town using the SCRUM method. And we decided to build Achim in Bremen. That was a lot of fun!

Zeppelin is an international company. That’s why our trainees also work abroad. Where will you go?

Next year, if everything works out, I will go to Goteborg (Sweden). I’m supposed to work in the product support sales area in the construction equipment department. But that’s not sure yet, due to the current situation.

Your first year as a Zeppelin trainee is almost over. What is your conclusion so far? What were your highlights? What did you learn?

One of my highlights was definitely the day, when the picture was taken, me driving the wheel loader. That was amazing! My time in the workshop and being with the field technicians was very interesting as well. To get to know the people and experience what issues and challenges they face every day.

Throughout the program, I’ve learned a lot about myself, e.g. about time management, how to organize myself at work and how to integrate in a team. And I moved to a new city!

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I’m a trainee at Zeppelin, so I’m already a Zeppeliner. I’ve learned so much about Zeppelin. In the future, I would love to stay here and broaden my knowledge and learn more. Z NEXT for me is not just being the next Zeppeliner but also creating the next Zeppelin.

Last question: WE are Zeppelin – what does the term mean to you?

“WE are Zeppelin” means to me, that we all build on the same value system, the Grafensätze. It’s the way of thinking and doing things at Zeppelin. Even though, we have so many different departments, we still share the same values and motivation to make Zeppelin successful.

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