FISITA Travel Bursary - spotlight on Leonie Galm



September 2020

NameLeonie GalmCourseIndustrial Management for Automotive IndustryUniversityUniversity of Applied Sciences Esslingen (Germany)PlacementRobert Bosch South East Asia Pte Ltd Singapore, Automotive Aftermarket - Purchasing

Before I start talking about my great time in Singapore, I wanted to say thank you for your support during the time of my work placement and beyond. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to join the professional network of the FISITA community and most importantly the amount of money that you awarded to me. It is great to know that the work I put into studying and into gaining professional experience in form of internships is acknowledged. Although I have good grades at university, I always try my best to gather work experience and participate in volunteer work, it was quite difficult for me to find a suitable scholarship. After a friend of mine told me about the FISITA Travel Bursary, I was quite confident that I had the right profile to apply and decided to give it a try. Looking back at this, it was definitely the right decision and I am happy to be among the lucky ones that benefit from this program.

1. My placement at Robert Bosch SEA in Singapore

During my internship I was working for the Purchasing Team in the Automotive Aftermarket division at Robert Bosch SEA Pte Ltd in Singapore. Bosch Singapore has approximately 900 employees and is the companies headquarter in South East Asia. Besides the Automotive Aftermarket division, also other business units like Thermo Technology and Security Solutions are located there.

Since my team is responsible for purchasing various automotive products for the ASEAN region, which consists of 10 countries in South East Asia, I got a comprehensive overview about automotive parts like batteries, lubricants, filters, brakes, and many more. Due to my apprenticeship at a car dealer in Germany, which counts to the customers of Bosch Automotive Aftermarket, I was already in touch with this kind of products and it was really interesting to see the procurement process of this goods from another perspective.

1.1 Working environment

The working environment in Asia is really different from the German and it was a unique and interesting experience I made during the 6 months. One of the main differences I encountered was that most of the colleagues have a rather distanced relationship to each other. Because I was already working for Bosch in Germany, where it was common to go to lunch together, have a chat during the afternoon coffee or to go out for a beer in the evening after work, it was a little bit strange in the first weeks. After a while I recognized, that the Singaporeans open up after you let them take their time and are one of the kindest people I ever met. The picture on the left shows me and some colleagues of mine at my welcoming lunch.
I was in contact with colleagues from Australia, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia, China and many other Asian countries which I liked a lot and what made me realize how strong Bosch is represented internationally. Unfortunately, I spent 5 of 5 ½ months of my internship in home office, since the Coronavirus pandemic heavily hit Singapore in March. This was both a completely new and challenging experience, I was working in my tiny room in a shared flat without proper equipment like a second screen, office chair and a stable internet connection. Besides the living situation, I could not cooperate with all my colleagues as I wished it would be. When you can only get in contact with others via E-Mail or when you give them a Skype call when something is more urgent, it feels like you are sealed off from everyone else. My colleagues supported me a lot throughout this period and I had regular review calls with my supervisors, where we also talked a lot about our current mood, the news and the development in the Coronavirus-topic.

1.2 Task area

My responsibilities during my internship have been very diverse and I got in touch with a lot of different topics throughout the six months. I was predominantly supporting my supervisor with operational tasks in an ongoing global battery tender, which is one of the highest cost tenders within Bosch Automotive Aftermarket. This tender started in the end of 2019 and when I came to Bosch Singapore in March 2020, the activities had already begun. Since my supervisor, who is the responsible area lead buyer for lead acid batteries, and I were constantly in contact with the different suppliers, we had a lot of different datasets of pricing information, technical specifications and contracts that we had to coordinate and evaluate. Therefore, I assisted to compare their prices, schedule review meetings and was in contact with the product management team to take a look at the technical requirements of Bosch and if the suppliers are able to meet them. Besides the support on the battery tender, one of my main tasks was to track the weekly vendor backlog of the ASEAN suppliers of Bosch Automotive Aftermarket. I created an excel dashboard in the beginning of my placement and was responsible to check on all the open deliveries of our suppliers week by week. From there, our team manager and I had a recurring meeting every Thursday to derive measures out of the figures e.g. contacting the responsible logistic planner or the suppliers themselves to find out more about the reason for the backlog and when the goods are supposed to be delivered. Apart from these main tasks, I took part in different supplier meetings and had a lot of tasks that had to be done on a monthly basis, for example maintaining the suppliers prices in the system or check if their invoices are tally with the prices that are indicated on the suppliers price lists.

2. Spending my free time in Singapore

Before I came to Singapore in February 2020, there were around 40 cases of Covid-19 in Singapore and I was not very concerned of how this will develop in the following months because the city state Singapore is one of the most modern countries of the world with an excellent healthcare system. At this time, I would have not expected the outcome of this pandemic and how it affected my internship in the end.

I met a lot of other international interns in the first couple of weeks, either through my flatmates or of course due to the work in the office. We were a group of around 10 people who always spend time after work or on the weekends. During the lockdown period that went from April until end of June, we tried our best to stay in contact via Skype and had regular calls on the weekends. After the regulations were eased up, we were allowed to meet with 4 other people outside and finally could continue with exploring the beautiful city state. We went kayaking, hiking, visited touristy attractions like the Flower Dome (botanic garden), Chinatown, Sentosa Island and spent a night at the famous Marina Bay Sands. It was mandatory to wear a mask at all times, except during strenuous exercises, but we enjoyed these last few weeks a lot and are incredibly happy that we were able to see all the nice spots of Singapore at the end.

3. My benefits of the Fisita Travel Bursary

I would definitely say that the Travel Bursary allowed me to take things a lot easier since Singapore is one of the most expensive places in the world. I quickly realized, that the amount of money that FISITA awarded to me would lift a big burden off my shoulders and I was able to enjoy my placement without thinking about how to cover the costs of flights, visa, rent and leisure activities all the time.

4. Next steps in my professional career

I have finished the last exams of my studies right before I came to Singapore and I am going to start my bachelor’s thesis in the upcoming winter term. In Germany it is common to write the final thesis in cooperation with a company. Due to the Coronavirus-pandemic, it is pretty tough to find a company that still hires students and has capacity and budget for the mentorship of a student. Due to that reason, I am going to write a theoretical thesis at the chair of Controlling and Finance. As of now, my thesis is concerning the opportunities of artificial intelligence within business forecasts.

5. Three words to describe the automotive and mobility engineering industry

When looking into the future of mobility I would say that these three words will be the essential topics of the automotive industry in the following decades:

Electrified, connected, shared.