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Beyond Graduation: Paving a Professional Course with Elkem

Trainee Blog 09.01.2024

Reflecting on my transformative journey from intern to trainee, I am compelled to share the exhilarating experiences that have shaped my professional debut. At this early stage of my career, Elkem's graduate program has proven to be a dynamic platform for personal and professional growth. In my current role at Elkem’s Lyon office as a facilitator for the Vinyl Oils Community (a gathering of workshops producing vinyl oils to share best practices and enhance production capabilities), I've not only expanded my responsibilities but also immersed myself in diverse facets of the company's operations.

Celebrating a milestone: Receiving my diploma in November. The photo captures the essence, marking my transition from my academic journey to Elkem.

As a facilitator,  I find immense joy in being at the interface of various elements within Elkem's Silicones division. My responsibilities extend to coordinating and planning a collaborative project with external entities, called ABC4I (Advanced Batch Control for Industry). This endeavor has not only enhanced my project management skills but has positioned me as a driving force behind the scenes.

Managing a substantial project like ABC4I has proven both challenging and immensely rewarding. Taking the lead over individuals with extensive experience necessitated mastering the art of asking pertinent questions to gather crucial information for project advancement. Serving as the liaison between different parties, especially in a collaborative consortium project like ABC4I, has significantly enhanced my skills in stakeholder coordination.

The ABC4I project aims to revolutionise future production lines by automating batch process control through the development of in-line analyser models and the integration of artificial intelligence. Witnessing Elkem's accelerated transition to digitalisation in factories is particularly intriguing for me, as it underscores the imperative need to remain competitive in the industry.

I highly appreciate the flexibility inherent in my role, enabling proactive contributions that I've exemplified through my ongoing project within the Silicones division's CAPEX Team. In this capacity, I took the initiative to identify operational needs while working closely with the workshops, facing challenges along the way. Specifically, I developed a proof-of-concept application using Power Apps to enhance the efficiency of data flow between operators and engineers.

Although the project is still in its pre-launch phase, the proof of concept has been instrumental in presenting the idea to top management of the workshop. This presentation holds the potential to catalyse further collaboration with Elkem's IT and the Digital Office, highlighting the innovative approach I've taken.

This highlights a crucial point — Microsoft tools, far from being constraints, are instrumental in fostering innovative ideas for digitalisation. The pursuit of digitalisation is not merely a possibility but a necessity and even with limited resources, these tools serve as catalysts for creative solutions. While estimating the benefits of digitalisation poses challenges due to the evolving nature of work methods, the tool's ability to retrieve, display, and analyse data allows engineers more time for interpretation and the implementation of improvement solutions.

Elkem's graduate program has been a gateway to cultural exploration and professional enrichment. My journey has taken me to Norway, providing an opportunity to immerse myself in its vibrant culture. Exposure to the Norwegian language and customs has been a delightful addition, fostering a deeper connection with the company and its roots. 

Every Norwegian encountered has been kind and welcoming. Additionally, I've developed a fondness for their salmon, and I find myself yearning to live there for a rotation—a notable feat given my usual struggle with homesickness abroad. Norway holds a unique allure for me.

Captivating visit to the Orkla mine, unearthing insights into the company's history and Norway's mining legacy.
The vibrant activities and outings during our onboarding experience. Building bonds and creating memories with fellow trainees in Elkem's dynamic and diverse environment.

Undoubtedly, the program's highlight has been the onboarding process, where I engaged with fellow trainees and participated in various activities. The most professionally enriching experience was the project management workshop in Oslo, where I exchanged insights with professionals involved in Elkem's major investment projects. This training aligned seamlessly with my role in the ABC4I project, contributing to my rapid adaptation. It played a pivotal role in demystifying the difficulties and concerns I faced in project management. Interacting with professionals who, despite their years of brilliant experience, encountered similar daily challenges, provided a sense of reassurance.

Being a trainee at Elkem has proven to be an immense opportunity. In this expansive organisation, I've not only delved into its rich history and diverse activities but have also learned invaluable lessons from my colleagues. As I prepare for my second outplacement, my curiosity remains insatiable, and I am eager to explore new cultures while contributing to exciting projects. In my upcoming assignments, I hope to leverage my experience within the Vinyl Oils Community. Despite potentially working in a division outside of Silicones, with processes I am less familiar with, I aspire to continue being a proactive contributor and proposing innovative solutions.