FIRST Canada Youth Council Members Ishan B and Michelle D had the pleasure of interviewing Schneider Electric employees Amrit Takhar, Human Resources Business Partner & Talent Management Specialist, and Parmita Chakrabarti, Offer Marketing Specialist, to learn more about Schneider Electric and give some advice about future career prospects in the STEM domain.
CAN YOU GIVE US A LITTLE DETAIL ABOUT WHAT SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC DOES FOR THOSE WHO MAY NOT KNOW?
Amrit: Schneider Electric is a provider of energy management and automation digital solutions. These solutions enable integrated management, for homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure and industries, for sustainability and efficiency.
We believe access to energy and digital is a basic human right and as a global leader, we aim to empower all to make the most of our energy and resources. We call this Life Is On.
Our mission is to be your digital partner for Sustainability and efficiency, ensuring Life Is On for everyone, everywhere, at every moment.
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT YOUR ROLES AT SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC?
Parmita: My role is Offer Marketing for four (4) medium voltage product lines. If you’re wondering what an Offer Marketer does, it’s all about helping manage the 4P’s, in particular product and product positioning, price, and promotion. My background is in electrical engineering, which helps in my role because there is a mixture of technical and commercial aspects that tend to blend really well.
Amrit: I am the Talent Manager for Schneider Electric Canada, and I am an HR Business Partner for the Central Functions. My responsibilities range from recruiting the right talent, employment branding, leading the country’s D&I strategy, creating and planning strategic HR initiatives, partnering with our leaders, and supporting our employees. My passion is creating programs and initiatives that support our employees in their development and help unleash their potential.
BOTH OF YOU HAVE BEEN AT SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC FOR MORE THAN FOUR YEARS. WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO SHARE HOW YOU BOTH LANDED YOUR FIRST JOB AT THE COMPANY AND HOW YOUR EXPERIENCE AT THE COMPANY HAS BEEN OVER THAT TIME?
Parmita: I started in the Commercial Leadership Program which is a rotational program for graduating Engineering students. It’s a two-and-a-half-year rotational program, allowing talent to get well-rounded exposure to the Company and understand how teams work together. My rotations have been in sales, marketing, and quotations. After a little over 2 and a half years of completing the program, I moved into a permanent role as an offer marketing specialist. I’ve had the opportunity to lead and participate in a range of projects, which has been exciting and empowering, especially this early in my career.
Amrit: I began my career at Schneider Electric through the Company’s Internship Program. I will always be grateful for my internship experience because it provided me with a wide range of exposure to the different areas of HR. I also had the opportunity to work on an impactful and meaningful project where I was able to add value and extract a lot of learning. After my internship, I was offered a full-time position as the HR Coordinator. As I reflect on my 4+ years at Schneider, I can see how my internship provided me with the right development that helped accelerate my career. So, I encourage you to do the same and seek out internship opportunities that provide you with hands-on learning and exposure to different career options to help you find your passion and kick-start your career!
COULD YOU TELL US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THIS GRADUATE PROGRAM? HOW DO STUDENTS GET CONNECTED TO THIS PROGRAM?
Amrit: Schneider Electric’s Commercial Leadership Program (CLP) is a unique well-rounded, rotational program that allows new graduates in the engineering field start their career at Schneider by working in three different functional areas (Marketing, Sales, and Quotations) over the course of 2.5 – 3 years.
After the program, you gain an understanding of the industry as a whole and about the Company. Most importantly, the Program helps you learn more about yourself and what you are passionate about. As a new grad, it can be difficult to narrow down your career options and figure out what it is that you want to do based on your limited experiences. This program really helps you to discover that and kick-start your career. To be considered for the program (or to learn more), you can apply directly on our careers page: www.se.com/ca/careers.
Being a part of programs such as FIRST Robotics is a great way to get involved in a STEM program, build your resume and develop your skills. It also shows that you are passionate, active, and have a thirst for learning. These are qualities that we look for in candidates applying for the Program!
Parmita: Going through the graduate program myself, I completely agree with everything that Amrit mentioned. After graduating, it can be hard to know exactly what you want to do, and this program helps you figure that out and helps you create the story of how you want to grow as a professional individual.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR PEOPLE (ESPECIALLY GIRLS) WHO MAY BE INTERESTED IN A ROLE OR JOB LIKE YOURS?
Parmita: The biggest tip is to not feel intimidated and just go for it because a lot of the time we tend to hold ourselves back and feel that we’re never going to be ready for a new challenge or ready to go venturing out into an unknown domain. The goal is to put yourself out there, learn as much as possible, and being a part of a lot of extracurriculars helps too, something that Amrit mentioned. It really helps you tailor and build that feeling that “Yes, I can do it!”.
Amrit: Females sometimes shy away from opportunities if they don’t meet every single role requirement. In fact, sometimes we feel the need to be overqualified in order to have the confidence to apply for specific roles. My advice would be to be mindful of this mindset and go for it! Find mentors that will help support you, provide meaningful advice, and encourage you.
I also encourage participating in programs like FIRST Robotics which provide a great opportunity for females to get exposure and hands-on experience in the STEM field at an early age to encourage more females to go into areas like engineering, which has been traditionally a male-dominated area.
SWITCHING GEARS, LET’S TALK ABOUT COVID-19. WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC WILL EVOLVE AS YOU NAVIGATE THE CURRENT BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT
Amrit: I think there are two major areas that Schneider Electric, amongst other businesses, will be focused on.
First, supporting our employees through flexibility and well-being programs. Schneider Electric has enhanced current policies and implemented additional ones to improve flexibility and support for employees during these challenging times. These policies have ranged from a work-from-home policy and an enhanced Flexibility@Work policy, to programs such as a Well-Being Diagnosis tool and virtual access to healthcare and mental health professionals, all contributing to overall employee well-being.
Second, relying more on digital tools to do business and support our employees. Schneider Electric has started offering more e-learning focused on topics like how to successfully manage the new virtual work-life, a virtual selling course that provides our sales team with the essential knowledge, techniques, tools, and tips to succeed in selling and engaging with customers virtually and how to run effective/productive virtual meetings, manage virtual teams, make remote working a success, etc.
Schneider Electric also recently launched a new online portal: Open Talent Market (OTM). OTM is a career development and inner mobility platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to match employee talents and aspirations to projects, mentors and full-time roles at SE. OTM provides better transparency around available opportunities and enables us to ‘Act Like Owners’, drive our careers, and develop to our fullest potential within our company. This has empowered our employees to own their development and seek out mentors and projects to provide more exposure to different teams and assignments outside of their current scope.
HOW DOES YOUR OFFICE BRANCH COMMUNICATE WITH THE HEADQUARTERS IN THE COMPANY IN FRANCE? DOES EITHER OF YOU SPEAK FRENCH IN THE WORKPLACE?
Parmita: We like to say that Schneider Electric is the most local global company. Schneider Electric actually has three major hubs including France, Hong Kong, and the U.S (Boston) to ensure a strong presence in all key markets. We interact with colleagues around the world on a daily basis, and in fact this is encouraged for sharing learnings and ideas amongst colleagues and countries, and course for reporting purposes as well. At Schneider Electric, we pride ourselves in being a diverse and inclusive company and have many bilingual speaking individuals in the company including French and many other languages too.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT WHAT HEFORSHE IS AND HOW IT SUPPORTS EDI AT SCHNEIDER?
Amrit: HeForShe is a global solidarity movement that calls upon men and boys to take action and advocate for equality. The campaign aims to strengthen the support for women’s rights as human rights by enlisting men as allies for gender equality. The HeForShe impact 10x10x10 initiative gathers 10 heads of states, 10 CEOs, which Schneider is one of them, and 10 universities that are on a journey to reach gender parity and achieve a gender-equal world for all. Within that, Schneider is committed, along with the other companies in the HeForShe impact, to increasing the representation of women across the employee pipeline: at least 40% at entry-level and 30% in top positions.
COULD YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT ECOSTRUXURE?
Parmita: EcoStruxure is our IoT solution that helps businesses operate more efficiently and sustainably. It includes connected (“smart”) products, edge control for remote monitoring [Parmita, ok to say this], and software for data analytics and informed decision making. The information is captured through sensors installed in products and the data is then sent to the cloud. The software helps analyze that data and give our customers more meaningful insights to understand how their equipment is performing. Having access to this data helps them optimize their energy consumption and be more sustainable.
DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS FOR US?
Parmita: What inspired you to get into FIRST Robotics?
Michelle: So, my story about how I joined FIRST is a little bit funny. I joined just over a year ago. My team, FIRST Team 1305, Ice Cubed, was holding something they called a “Robot Build Build Bash” which was sort of an introductory program into robotics before the actual season started. I found out about it a little later, where it had already been two weeks since it started; however, I kept submitting forms on the website and sending emails asking them to join the team. Eventually, they did get back to me and happily let me join. I then got caught up in everything and when I went to meet the team, they jokingly said, “oh, you’re the girl who wouldn’t stop emailing us.” I have always been interested in STEM, especially chemistry, and I find STEM, in general, is really interesting. Especially with the diversity of things that go on in FIRST, it’s not just building robots, but also outreach with the community.
Ishan: I got interested in FIRST Robotics while hearing about a community-based FIRST team existing in Ottawa. Since my school did not have the resources to have a FIRST team, I was really interested when I heard about this community-based team in my region. After meeting the team at one of the events and seeing how cool our team’s robots were in real life, I was completely hooked on the idea of FIRST Robotics and have now been on FIRST Team 2706, Merge Robotics, for over two years.
It is easy to see the great work that Amrit and Parmita are doing at Schneider Electric. If you want to learn more about Schneider Electric and what they do, visit https://www.se.com/ca/en/. Thank you once again for sharing your time and advice with us and the FIRST Canada community!