Fresh ideas for the think tank
KSB offers students the possibility of writing their final thesis with the company. And as is particularly evident in the Frankenthal loft office, KSB’s “Think Tank”, this chance to be
part of a project team and gain some professional experience is taken up by up to 40 young people a year.
Upon walking through the loft office, one is struck by the number of young people going about their business. “We always have between 15 and 20 students – we KSB staff are actually in the minority here,” reports Traugott Ulrich, Head of Start-up Projects, New Business Development, with a wink.
Some students are studying Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes, while others are from dual programmes or are in the process of writing their final thesis. Their subjects are generally mechanical engineering, economics, electrical engineering and business. The
students are assigned tasks in a variety of areas ranging from design assignments to programming, market analysis and business model development.
“We tailor their thesis topics so that they fulfil academic requirements and generate insight for KSB,” says Ulrich, explaining that the students are given their topic, but it is left up to them to determine how they tackle it. This can result in completely new approaches being developed in certain fields.
Often, the students’ academic assignments come into conflict with the day-to-day business in industry. “These young tearaways do tend to break us out of our routines. You can’t just say ‘We’ve always done it that way’.” And this is how we want it to be, as the loft office is a place where innovative ideas for new products and services should be generated. Fresh input from outside can be very helpful in achieving this. A further advantage of including students in projects is the possibility of finding potential candidates for employment with KSB once their studies are completed.
At the same time, the students gain real experience of daily working life through their tasks with the company. Working on projects also helps them better understand their own strengths and weaknesses and further develop their existing skills.
From across the globe
As the students spend only three to a maximum of six months in the loft office, we must familiarise them with their tasks very quickly. This is handled by the supervising staff, generally the project managers. But it also means that KSB needs students who are highly motivated and keen to have a go. Working in the loft is definitely not a nine-to-five job. Ulrich therefore interviews students together with the project managers in order to find out about the competencies of potential candidates. “It needs to fit, both in terms of knowledge and personality,” concludes Ulrich.
Often, candidates come from one of the many universities and other higher-education institutions in Germany and Europe with which KSB cooperates.
However, in the past students from Africa and Asia have also worked in the loft office. “Some had to endure quite an adventure before arriving here,” recalls Ulrich. “And these young people were all the more grateful for the chance they got with KSB.”