6 years, 6 career steps, 1 company, and many lessons to share

November 9, 2023
career progression

Have you ever considered how many important spaces in our lives are powered by electricity? Our homes, offices, train stations, and beyond. There’s one company that’s often close by.

Schneider Electric is somewhat ubiquitous,” says Hélène Hennequin. “It’s everywhere. It’s a name people are often familiar with – but still, I refer to it as one of the world’s largest invisible organizations. As a technology company supporting everything from components to digitally connected systems, anywhere electricity runs, we’ve likely played a part..

Six years ago, at a university careers fair, the company’s familiar name caught her eye.

“Its focus on sustainability initially attracted me. That’s when I first applied for its early career programs and was able to join an internship program within the Supply Chain team.

“I loved being exposed to so many different projects, one of which included assisting my project manager in a major warehouse expansion. I felt entrusted with significant responsibilities, and as a result, believed it to be an environment where I could genuinely advance my career.”

Building a network

Since day one, Hélène was impressed by the company’s people and culture.

“Even during the hiring process, everyone was so friendly and approachable. And it’s been like that ever since! In fact, the speaker who first captured my attention at the careers fair hired me, and still works closely with me to this day. People are loyal here, which is something that provides stability and makes it feel like a great place to work.”

Whether you’re a STEMM professional or come from a non-technical background, the ability to build relationships will always put you in good stead.

“Many of our engineers have 20 to 30 years plus of experience. I don’t have a technical background, so I’ve learned that building a network of support is critical! There are a number of people I know I can always turn to for technical advice.”

Often, supportive workplace cultures like this can fast-track professional development. It certainly has for Hélène.

“There are so many programs on offer, from mentoring opportunities with senior leaders, to networking events. I’ve participated in several training, coaching, mentoring, and leadership programs.

“Combined with support and trust from managers, who truly care about my growth and development, it’s been key to getting me where I am today.”

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Integrated circuits of professional opportunities

As Hélène can attest, there are countless pathways for people to grow their careers by exploring different roles in Schneider Electric. Throughout her six-plus years, she’s progressed through many.

After moving from intern to Logistics Analyst, she took on a Transport role managing the Pacific Control Tower.

“It was essentially crisis management in the Supply Chain network – which was no walk in the park! Everything was critical, urgent, and fast-paced. It helped me develop important skills, like resilience.”

Next, she decided to explore the Services side of the business, managing its National Operations Centre.

“This was a great transition because it involved labor planning for different projects, which brought me closer to understanding the company’s customers.”

This eventually led to her being selected for her current role as Services Pre-Sales Leader.

“We look after all services-related project tenders and offers. This includes maintenance contracts, installations, commissioning, or upgrading equipment. We’re also growing our Digital business. My team plays a key role in designing and tendering for these solutions.”

If you’ve been keeping count – yes, it’s true! From intern to analyst, to management, she’s explored six different, interesting roles in the company.

Helene Hennequin

“A leadership position was always something I wanted to steer my career towards, but Schneider helped to fast track that process.”

Overcoming circuit breakers

Of course, no career path is complete without its own unique set of challenges. The pandemic, for one, had a tough impact on many supply chains – including Schneider Electric’s.

“It was a struggle bringing stock into the country and to deliver our customers on time. There were also a lot of issues upstream with vendor supplies, in our transportation network and to access customers’ sites. But teamwork and collaboration really helped us overcome those challenges, and Schneider Electric gave us great support.”

Right now, however, Hélène’s priority in Pre-Sales involves developing tenders, bridging the gap between sales and operations.

“We provide targeted solutions to customers through the Sales team and play a direct role winning this work and growing orders,” says Hélène. “After we win a tender, we handover to the project team.”

It’s a front-end role that can make a difference, as the handover process must be efficient and well coordinated. Critical information about the solution and customer requirements can’t be lost, but Hélène says the challenge is incredibly worthwhile.

And so, what is the greatest lesson she’s learned?

As a mentor shared with her early on, when you’re thrown into the deep end, you’ll learn how to swim; something that resonates with her still to this day!

“Since starting this role and despite lacking an electrical engineering background, I’ve learned what is involved in retrofitting a breaker, leading large tenders, and much more. With the right mindset, commitment, and perseverance you can achieve almost anything. Focus on solutions, instead of problems. Stay curious, ask questions, and continue learning every day.”

For Hélène, this all boils down to being willing to take risks and push yourself beyond your comfort zone.

“Do that, and you’ll never get bored,” she laughs. “Plus, you’ll stay ‘relevant’ in an ever-evolving business world. Overall, I’m proud of the relationships I’ve built, moving into management, and building such a strong, engaged team.”

“Nothing brings me more happiness than seeing my team succeed and thrive! Well, except maybe knowing that my journey might inspire other young women, that I may never even meet, to thrive in their careers too. That’s the ultimate reward.”

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About the Author

Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

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