4 Min

A glimpse into the Growth DRIVErs Program with Nicole

SMS group’s DRIVE project is a collaborative initiative that aims to align and integrate the expertise of the three Centers of Excellence (CoEs) - SMS digital, Technical Service, and Electric & Automation (E&A). The objective is to combine knowledge in metallurgy, plant engineering, digitalization, and industry service to enhance the success of clients' plant lifecycles.

In 2023, SMS group implemented the Growth DRIVErs Program, which aimed to foster the development of our young talents in the DRIVE CoEs on a global scale. The program sought to connect promising emerging individuals, enhance their skills as a collective, and leverage their unique viewpoints to improve and advance the DRIVE processes. The program continues as the “SMS Growth Drivers Program,” available to all business areas, not only DRIVE CoEs, and focuses on junior-level employees. Nicole Kalinowski shares her experience as a participant in the 2023 Growth DRIVErs Program in this article.

What is your position at SMS, and how were you selected for the 2023 Growth DRIVErs Program?

I am a project manager and responsible for leading international projects related to manufacturing execution systems at SMS digital. My current brownfield project is located in Sweden, where we are implementing one of our largest digital product portfolios.

The nomination for the program was done by the regional or CoE management. To be considered for one of the limited 18 places, I had to submit an elevator pitch video showcasing my passion, creativity, and initiative, along with a personal and professional background questionnaire. In early August 2023, I received the exciting news that I had been chosen.

Nicole's elevator pitch video

How was the program structured, and what were the main topics?

The program consisted of various formats and included both internal and external coaching and started with two online sessions. Here, we got to know each other and learned about general DRIVE topics. We were split into two groups for the following two deep-dive modules to accommodate different time zones. These two modules were about change management and communication styles, including case studies of our DRIVE business provided by a few Senior Leaders.

During our visit to the METEC trade fair, we enjoyed visiting the SMS booth and engaging in a live conversation with Prof. Dr. Katja Windt (CDO at SMS group) and DRIVE heads Jochen Burg (CEO at SMS group), Gerald Mayr (Executive Vice President E&A), and Thiago Maia (CEO at SMS digital), which was a refreshing experience for me. Throughout the "Carousel Talk" exercise with the Senior Leaders, participants had the opportunity to ask any questions on their minds, which is considered one of the most effective methods for intellectual and personal development. These private conversations were an inspirational conclusion for all involved. The final module of the official program ended on June 21st after three days of professional and informal discussions with the DRIVE heads, which helped us expand our international network.

What was your favorite part of the program?

Throughout my journey, I experienced many unforgettable moments. However, what truly stood out was the social aspect of collaborating with my colleagues and working together to solve challenges. As the Growth DRIVErs Program is meant to bring together an international team from the three CoEs to expand the DRIVE business, a group of professionals from Germany, Italy, Brazil, the United States, China, India, and Luxembourg gathered. They had varying levels of work experience, ranging from 4 to 10 years, and held different positions, including Technical Sales Engineer, Product Specialist, Site Engineer, General Manager, or Product Manager. I appreciated being a part of a diverse group of participants, as it allowed me to understand better new perspectives that I can apply in the future.

Have you been able to implement anything you learned in your everyday work?

What I carry on with is the energy audit that was taught during our first module. By practicing simple rituals, I can replenish my personal energy levels. These rituals involve taking short breaks at specific intervals, expressing gratitude to others, minimizing interruptions, and dedicating time for reflection, strategizing, and creative thinking. Thanks to the growth mindset instilled in me through this program, I am now more aware of how to embrace daily challenges both in and outside of projects, as these challenges help me to grow.

What are your key takeaways?

As one of the 18 Growth DRIVErs, I feel grateful and honored to have been a part of such a fantastic experience that allowed me to exchange ideas, establish a global network, and develop personally. I am eager to apply what I have learned and pursue my ambitions. I am striving to become an expert in my field and progress to the next level, which means taking on more leadership responsibilities that utilize my strengths.

Susan Strumbo
Marketing & Communications
SMS digital GmbH