Field trips to companies have been one of the brightest experiences of my Master´s journey. Visitors have a unique opportunity to get insights into the daily working business, the current challenges of the industry and the future trends. Moreover, you get great networking opportunities during the whole day.
This time we went to the headquarter office of Vodafone GmbH which is located in Düsseldorf. Early morning departures can be really stressful for international groups (7.30 a.m. is kind of early for everyone though), but we successfully managed it and left Frankfurt School towards Düsseldorf on time.
We arrived to the company around 10.30. Employees call their office “campus” and it actually does look like a campus..
Field trips almost always mean that you have some expectations about the company. This time was no exception. I am pretty sure that the majority of us (or at least me) thought that the most of the time we would talk about mobile network services. However, when we got our agenda, we realized that the focus of our discussion would be different.
Enterprise Showroom (B-2-B experience)
Surprise-surprise, B-2-B is another part of Vodafone’s business, which accounts for 25% of their revenues in Germany. To learn more about the company, we went up to the 18th floor with an amazing view over the city. This is the place where they speak with their customers about their challenges and the solutions Vodafone can provide. However, not B-2-B but the other topics discussed were most impressive. Attention! We are entering the future now. The burning topics are IoT (Internet of Things), Industry 4.0, Connected Cars, 3D Printing, Mobile Payments and many many others.
To make it more memorable and presentable to customers Vodafone uses different impressive ways. For example, there is a network tree made up from many computers with simultaneously running presentations to show the move from 2G to 5G.
With the help of VR (Virtual Reality) glasses and simulation car you learn about solutions Vodafone can provide in daily life – in your connected car, in the cinema, in the city, etc. Using VR glasses, you can explore the Smart City of the future, how the smart light, smart waste, smart parking, etc. are going to function with the help of Vodafone solutions.
Innovation Park Tour
Next on our agenda was a guided tour to Vodafone Innovation Park, where we divided into groups. After the Enterprise Showroom with VR glasses and having seen into the future, I expected to see some fantastic innovations. The reality was different for me.
We went to some labyrinth room with many, many cables where they do trials and quality tests. Our guide was encouraging us to ask questions except only one – “how many patches do they have there?” because he does not know the answer (wait a second, patches? what is it?)
Meeting with FS Alumni & HR Talk
We were introduced to an FS alumna (former Bachelor student) who is now in the challenging graduate program “Discover”. She shared with us her projects, the qualities important for the program and just daily insights she had about the company. Furthermore, ee got a more detailed overview about the possibilities in the company, company values and long-term career perspectives from Vodafone’s HR employees.
This was the moment when we spoke about Vodafone’s mobile network service. The presentation given was indeed interesting as we were asked to work as employees of the Strategy department facing the current industry challenges. Trending topics are, e.g. raising data traffic and flat revenues. It was valuable to see the process of generating strategies for main business objectives.
Tech companies are well known for providing their employees with benefits and organizing a flexible workplace. For example, in Vodafone you don’t have an opportunity to have a home office – it is a must. You don’t have a fixed workplace; you can choose spot you like – in cafeteria, 18th floor with nice view, on the nice terrace during summer. However, you definitely have your “home zone” where your department is located. There are different facilities on campus: gym, laundry, hairdresser, sleeping capsules and pretty much everything you need to feel comfortable at the workplace.
I really do like company visits and encourage students to take this opportunity during their studies. It is not only about getting to know about HR opportunities and networking, but also is a great opportunity to learn business insights from professionals who work in the industry. You never know when you may need to use their knowledge in the future.