Inside MEKO Talent Program – three trainees reflect on the first year and the biggest learnings: “Extremely rewarding”
One year ago, MEKO launched its inaugural international trainee program. Looking back at the first batch of ambitious talents and ahead of the application period reopening later in 2024, Carl-Johan Selin, Hanna Käll, and Filip Wahlqvist talk us through an insightful twelve months, comprising travels and thrilling meetings with branches within MEKO.
MEKO’s trainee program is an international leadership development program, combining both core business practice and theoretical strategy. It aims to provide a unique start to a promising career and lets participants build an extensive international network with colleagues across Northern Europe.
The program lasts for 15 months and is divided into three different blocks. During at least one of the these, the participants get the opportunity to work abroad in one of MEKO's markets.
The class of 2024 consists of 13 people, with each being provided a tailored program depending on their skills, ambitions, and interests.
In this article, three participants, with vastly different backgrounds and orientations, reflect on their decision to apply and the biggest learnings to date.
Photo: Hanna Käll, Carl-Johan Selin, Filip Wahlqvist.
Tell us a little about your backgrounds…?
"I have a bachelor’s degree in Design and Product Development and a master’s degree in Industrial Economics and Management from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. My studies provided me with a solid understanding of problem-solving, creative processes, business management and economics. This prepared me well ahead of this adventure,” said Carl-Johan Selin, Product & Category Trainee.
“I hold a bachelor's in Environmental Science from Södertörn University, during which I had the privilege of spending an exchange semester at the University of Milan. As an outdoors person, my passion for sustainability came rather naturally. Armed with these experiences, I moved here to contribute to the transition towards a sustainable future,” said Hanna Käll, Sustainability Trainee.
“I have a bachelor's degree in Economics from Örebro University and a master's degree in Management and Finance from Regent's University London. I have always had a firm interest in economics and finance so the decision to pursue a career in this space came naturally to me," said Filip Wahlqvist, Finance Trainee.
How come you applied to the MEKO Talent Program?
Hanna: “I found the trainee program concept exciting and a sensible first step, coming straight from university. Given that MEKO, an international and publicly listed company, was looking for a person with my profile to further boost its ambitious sustainability agenda, I never hesitated.”
Filip: “Given my interests, the opportunity to be at an exciting organisation that is on a positive trajectory appealed to me. I really liked the way the program was structured and that it provides us with a deep understanding of the entire organisation, which I highly value."
Carl-Johan: “It was clear to me that the program was incredibly ambitious and that they intended to invest heavily in the individuals participating in the program. I saw this as an incredible opportunity, to get to be at a company with a leading market position that have been able to maintain its entrepreneurial spirit. Furthermore, I also have a passion for cars, so naturally, the automotive industry seemed like a great place to kickstart my career."
What are some of the lessons drawn from this period?
Filip: “As a trainee, you get the opportunity to further deepen your understanding of how the various business areas and divisions operate. During the program, we have travelled both around Sweden and abroad, including Warsaw and Oslo and even Malmö, where Mekonomen Company Sweden's accounting department and customer and supplier ledger teams are based.”
Carl-Johan: “I have learned a tremendous amount! You get the opportunity to network and develop a genuine understanding of the company’s core business in a way completely different from traditional onboardings. I have attended two management conferences and visited several of MEKO’s foreign offices. At the start of 2024, I will be spending two months in Norway where I will work closely with the new CPO of Mekonomen Company Norway."
Hanna: “Within the program, everyday work tasks are sensibly combined with education, strategic projects, and study visits. For example, we have visited Inter-Team's office in Warsaw and FTZ in Odense to learn more about the different markets. During the spring, all trainees have the opportunity to work abroad within one of the group's business areas, and I will be going to Helsinki to learn more about Koivunen. The idea is that I will assist in implementing the group's sustainability strategy and strengthen the company's sustainability reporting."
What does a regular day look like?
Carl-Johan: “Our roles have been rather fluid as we rotate between different functions. It has varied from managing projects to being stationed at one of Mekonomen’s express warehouses. This combination has given me a deepened understanding of the organisation."
Hanna: “As part of the sustainability team, I have been working with the implementation of various EU directives and regulations. Focus this autumn has been to prepare the organization for the new sustainability reporting directive CSRD and the increasing reporting demands.”
Filip: “As a finance trainee, I have gotten lots of diverse experiences, including budget processes and assorted projects. I have also had the opportunity to lead and be part of larger cross-functional projects within the organization.”
Have you gotten to know the other trainees from the class of 2024?
Hanna: “The chance to get to know the other participants in the trainee program and build a network spanning various countries and business areas has been invaluable. During the first week of the trainee program, we had a joint onboarding and lots of team-building exercises. This has fostered a great sense of community.”
Filip: “To be able to have these shared experiences, where we have gotten to exchange knowledge and reflect on learnings so far, have been really rewarding.”
Carl-Johan: “In addition to these exciting training days, we have undertaken a strategic sustainability project together. This has been an excellent way to utilize our group's knowledge and skills."
What happens now?
Filip: “When the program is completed, I will take up the position as a Junior Business Controller at Mekonomen Company Sweden."
Carl-Johan: “As a trainee, you get a clear understanding of how each division operates. This has given me an opportunity to reflect on my career objectives, and I have a clear goal that I’m working towards."
Hanna: “The plan is to being a part of the sustainability team. My ambition is to continue developing strategic work to ensure safe and sustainable mobility for all.”