Partnership between the College of Business and Sogeti helps shape young professionals
Since 2000, the Ohio University College of Business has provided training to more than 2,800 young executives through the Sogeti Netherlands Young Professional Development Program. Sogeti is a multinational information technology consulting firm based in the Netherlands that provides professional technology services and software testing to a variety of companies.
Sogeti hires young professionals in the Netherlands from different backgrounds and specialties. Shortly after being hired, the young professionals visit Athens for a three-week-long intensive training program with Ohio University College of Business faculty, who help shape them into skilled consultants or representatives for their clients.
“There are a lot of things that we cover here in Athens in three weeks, and that is basically part of their training program,” said Marco Habermann, director of the Sogeti program. “For them, it’s a way to train their new hires in a safer environment, to run them through different scenarios, and teach them essential skills and concepts to succeed. We have people who are chiropractors or dance majors, and we try to make consultants out of them as quickly as we possibly can.”
The training program helps the Sogeti young professionals develop a wide range of skills and gain knowledge in various aspects, including basic business analysis, business pitches, business financials, creativity workshops, presentation formats, storytelling in business, team dynamics, and the ability to work in high-performance teams. During this time, trainees also learn about themselves, their personalities, how they react under pressure, and how they work with other people.
The young professionals go through a business simulator, where they often experience failure and learn from it, rather than solely being lectured. Faculty members play the role of clients, who can be easy-going or complicated, exposing the young professionals to possible real-life interactions with clients and giving them the opportunity to react.
“This program is cross-disciplinary. It’s one of the few programs we have at OHIO that deals with every aspect of business,” said Habermann. “I’ve done academia, consulting, and a lot of other things, and I’ve never seen a program so unique in its approach. It’s so customized and flexible in how we’re basically addressing the company’s needs, as well as the young professionals’ needs. It’s life-altering for some of them to see and experience these things firsthand.”
Sogeti also sends over their senior managers, called coaches, who mentor and educate the young professionals about the company throughout their training with the College of Business. They help assess the young professionals, figure out how they should challenge them, and decide what they need help with. Sogeti also started sending some of their clients over during last year’s programs, so they could see how the young professionals work on real-life projects.
Although COVID-19 has impacted the College of Business faculty’s ability to provide in-person training to Sogeti employees, they are continuing this program virtually over Microsoft Teams. The virtual classroom sessions are about 20-30 minutes long and are typically pre-recorded. The young professionals still work and present with teams, but they can choose to present live over Microsoft Teams or record videos in a different, creative way. The faculty also provides virtual office hours and helps participants practice elevator pitches and exercises.
“The Sogeti Young Professionals Program highlights the possibility for exceptional talent development when industry leaders and higher education experts create a win-win partnership,” said Tim Reynolds, executive director of the Robert D. Walter Center for Strategic Leadership at Ohio University. “Given the global impact of COVID-19, all parties could have decided to put this program on hold. However, Marco Habermann, Mike Snavely, Jill Nice, and the wonderful Sogeti leadership team would not let a crisis define us or slow down the development of talented consultants.”