JET: Interview

Insight MTU: Sabine Ludwig, Trainee in Commercial Program Management

Sabine Ludwig, now 28 years old, decided while still a student of Industrial Engineering at the Hamburg University of Technology that she wanted to get to know as many areas of a company as possible. She got a first glimpse of the aviation industry at Airbus, where she was employed part-time in the safety and reliability division while a student. After a study-abroad semester in Chile, she took an internship in Sydney, Australia, where she looked after Asian customers for the sales and marketing division of an electronic-storage-media manufacturer. Back in Hamburg, Sabine researched her Diplom-degree thesis by helping optimize the business processes of an international machine-tool manufacturer.

How did you come to be a trainee at MTU?

I always had a great affinity for the aviation industry, which I got to know and love during my time at Airbus. I am endlessly fascinated by the technological and organizational know-how that goes into making an airplane and that carries passengers securely from point A to point B – especially because I enjoy traveling myself and have been fortunate enough to collect quite a few air miles.

This was also the reason that, after completing my studies, I looked for a trainee program that would allow me to get to know multiple divisions within a company – national as well as international ones. At the IKOM career fair in Munich, I came across an advertisement for MTU’s JET program and was immediately impressed – first, because MTU is a good employer; second, because each JET participant is given a personalized training plan.

My trainee position with Program Management at MTU seems to me like the culmination of everything I’ve done until now. In my future position in Program Management, I will be the one who holds things together, so to speak, for certain commercial aviation engine programs and who manages the engines from the business side. I’ll be sitting at the interface between different internal and external areas such as purchasing, production, engineering, and the customer, and will need to stay on top of the different demands arising from each front.

What was the most interesting part of your time in the JET program?

It is especially exciting for me that I get to learn about a new area every two or three months. That gives me a good overview of all operations areas within a short time. After my first months in Commercial Program Support, I worked in in Production Planning and in Purchasing for our engines’ case components. In these areas I got to know our extremely high quality-demands, the supplier approval process and such matters as target costs for various engine programs.

At the moment, I’m at the MTU China office in Shanghai. Here I’m learning about the Chinese aviation market. My next station will be MTU’s location in the USA, where I’ll support the team that administers the new engine programs there. The diverse network I’m currently building for myself – including my contacts with other trainees – will be of inestimable value later when I’m handling my permanent responsibilities in Program Management, especially at times when I need to collect information and devise optimal solutions to problems.

I have some time at our Canadian maintenance location in Vancouver on my training plan for the end of the year. MTU operates an aero engine repair shop and testing station in close proximity to the Vancouver International Airport. I’m very eager to see what maintenance operations will be like there.

For whom would JET not be the right choice?

I wouldn't recommend the program to graduates who are looking to take on a fixed, long-term assignment and work in a familiar team immediately after finishing their studies; the trainee program’s rigorous development plans aren’t designed that way. In this program, one must be ready to engage with new topics and new colleagues approximately every three months – no sooner have you established yourself in one place than it’s time to say goodbye and start again at zero in the next division. JET trainees need to have the ability to adapt quickly to new situations, people and cultures, as well as the desire to launch themselves again and again into new projects