A unique culture of innovations at Bosch. How the big multinational company drives its cultural transformation to make the world better.

By Maxim Polikarpov

poly-E-fair Company Relations Manager

March 22, 2021

By Maxim Polikarpov

poly-E-fair Company Relations Manager

March 22, 2021

People join a company and not a job. As the company’ culture ultimately defines the satisfaction of their employees from their work and life, we decided to chat with Julia Spieler – the head of Human Resources at the Bosch subsidiary Scintilla AG, Bosch Power Tools . Julia told about her path in the company. She revealed the details of the very open company culture, which encourages Bosch employees to achieve new heights together with the company. At the end of our discussion, Julia also shared some advice on how to best prepare for the virtual job fair and what to expect at the poly-E-fair

The way

At the moment of the interview, Julia Spieler already has been 11 years a part of Bosch. Her path in the company started right after her Bachelor’s degree, when she took the HR assistant position. Interestingly, Julia applied for a position in a startup and didn’t notice that it was a part of Bosch: “I applied because I liked the job description and not because of a big name. Only at the interview I realised that it is part of the Bosch group so it was a surprise”. 

Her start in a company was very exciting. She had a variety of tasks, being responsible for managing the presence of Bosch at universities and job fairs. “We had 15-20 fairs per year; it was a very active time, especially looking back from the year of COVID-19”, – she says.  

But what made Julia stay in Bosch for 11 years? She answers without hesitation: “the internationality”. For 6 years, Julia worked as HR for software-related businesses in Germany but then moved to Bosch Power Tools in Solothurn, Switzerland. Julia points, that “this is what I like so much at Bosch. In a company with roughly  394,500 employees, it is always possible to challenge yourself with new opportunities and responsibilities; to grow, to learn and to explore different cultures by moving to another department or country”. 

Culture to facilitate innovation

Internationality is just one asset of a historically strong culture of Bosch. As a part of corporate strategy, Bosch highlights 7 core values:

    • Future and result focus; 
    • Responsibility and sustainability;
    • Initiative and determination;
    • Openness and trust;
    • Fairness;
    • Reliability, credibility, and legality;
    • Diversity.

These values create an atmosphere of creativity, allowing Bosch employees to develop innovative solutions at numerous businesses, including more sustainable and environmentally friendly approaches. Openness, reliability, and trust enable everyone to share their voice and ideas and know that they will be heard and supported by colleagues. With more than 60 nationalities among employees, Bosch ensures the inclusion of different ways of working and thinking in its businesses’ success. 

The main value of Bosch is people – cooperative, open-minded, passionate to develop new innovative ideas. Bosch cares about its people and embeds the new agile ways of working to enable the employees’ success. Julia has worked in Bosch for 11 years and truly felt this. Julia mentions that “Bosch has always been a people-oriented company with great leaders”, but in 2016, the new Leadership principles were implemented. They are called “We Lead Bosch” and imply more empowerment for employees to facilitate idea generation and development. Of course, it doesn’t mean a completely flat hierarchy. Leaders are still giving the strategy and direction; however the way of planning and achieving those is also a responsibility of teams. Julia brings an example: “If I look into our area of Power Tools Accessories, 3 years ago we established cross-functional teams with members from different areas like engineering, project and product management. Such teams are now responsible for their own business and strategy”.

“We have open communication, and everyone can speak up.”

Julia Spieler

Julia continues with an explanation of how Bosch ensures that the ideas of employees are heard. At the beginning of each year, the company organises a team targeting workshop, where teams develop a strategy for the upcoming year. High-level targets come from top management, but the teams can break them down and develop the strategies and targets together with Bosch. Everyone can bring his idea to the table: on a strategy, management, business unit, and leadership levels. In a truly agile manner, “we look into the past, collect the feedback, look forward and adapt” — this is the workstyle of Bosch that Julia mentions. 

And suppose an employee has a great idea. In that case, this is totally possible on a daily basis to approach all management levels in the company and share it. The best ideas survive and “look at how many patents we have. This happens because of people bringing their ideas”, – Julia says.

Growing together with Bosch

Julia started her path in Bosch as an assistant and currently is the Head of Human Resources, which is a good example of how Bosch enables career growth of its employees. Julia comments on the corporate culture regarding the promotions: “If you demonstrate good performance and motivation, Bosch supports you and gives a chance to develop further”. While many people perceive career growth as climbing the corporate ladder, Julia mentions not to forget about horizontal growth, when the associate can get more responsibility in other roles or departments. She brings an example from her Bachelor’s, when she moved from logistics to sales and finance: “It is always good to have a broad experience and understand how different functions and departments perform together”. This approach is called T-shaped management and is getting widely applied at Bosch. In such an approach, the associate breaks out of the traditional corporate hierarchy to share knowledge freely across the organization (the horizontal part of the “T”) while remaining committed to individual business unit performance (the vertical part). 

Bosch systematically enables associate growth and aims for their employees to be self-reliant for their own careers, so they can nominate themselves to become a part of a so-called “talent pool”. After this, one or two times per year, Bosch selects the most potential candidates and provides targeted training, mentoring, coaching, discusses individual expectations of associates and helps to set up the plan for the future. Speaking of career paths, there are three main directions for the development – subject expertise, leadership and project management. Talent pool allows one to develop in all three directions. 

Learning by studying, training, and by example (from colleagues) – is also a part of the daily culture as Bosch engages employees for constant growth. Julia explains that, for instance, at Bosch power tools, there is a Bosch Power Tools Academy, which offers a variety of training online and offline — in engineering, sales, marketing, social competencies, presentation, communication, and many other areas. Also, there is an online knowledge base (documenpedia) and a classical library with several books available. Apart from internal training, Bosch supports employees with external courses and workshops. Julia points out that this was especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Bosch has different opportunities for continuing professional education with a degree. There are multiple entry programs, like the pre-master program, when the fresh bachelor graduate can do their Master’s together with Bosch. This was partially a case of Julia, as she did her master while already working at Bosch, and the company highly supported her both morally and financially. In addition, at Bosch, one can be a working student, part-time Ph.D., MBA or simply do external courses to upgrade their professional skills. Julia brings an example: “We had an employee who made a half-year engineering course at ETH, and we fully supported this”. Bosch understands that the world changes so fast it has to invest in its associates to stay on track.

Becoming a part of Bosch at Poly-E-fair 2021

In the context of poly-E-fair 2021 – a virtual job fair of the ETH Zurich, we asked Julia about her expectations from the event and participants. 

According to Julia, Bosch is interested in meeting the students and professionals with technical profiles at the poly-E-fair. At the same time, the company is open to everyone and can provide various tasks and positions. Sharing her thoughts on getting the most out of the participation in the job fair, Julia mentioned that the students should prepare in advance. She says that it is important to have a concrete idea of what the job seeker would like to do as the next step: go for a Master’s, be part of an entry program, work part-time during studies or join a full-time position. “Understanding what you are looking for is important to start a discussion with us. Come [to our booth at poly-E-fair], ask questions, be open, and then we see what kind of positions are available for a specific individual’s needs. Every question is welcome. [There is] no need for shyness; we are there for you to answer questions, just ask”. 

An important aspect is that the job seeker has background information about what the company is producing and doing. One can study the website, check the open positions and prepare specific questions. “The better you do your homework, the deeper discussion we can have about our work and the profiles that we are looking for”, – Julia says. 

Job seekers do not need to prepare their CV for the job fair. Company representatives will be extremely busy and won’t have time to collect the materials. “More important is to have a good conversation, to leave a good impression, be memorable and interesting”, – Julia emphasizes. 

Describe why do you love working at Bosch with five words

Julia answers with no concern: “Team spirit – I love my colleagues. Challenging tasks – the possibility to shape the growth. Diversity. Internationality. And [working at Bosch is] fun, I like to smile and make jokes”.

Why should Poly-E-fair participants join Bosch?

“Invented for life” is the slogan of Bosch. And it doesn’t matter in which department you are working, you will always have the possibility to shape the future and make the world better”, – says Julia.