Jennie is one of our Engineering Graduates and she comes from Sweden. She studied Mechanical Engineering at Lund University, with a Master’s in Product development and she spent her fourth year in Canada for an exchange program. During her studies, she also worked on the side and participated in volunteering activities. After she finished her studies, she began the Graduate Programme at Demant in September 2020.
Why did you decide to come to Denmark and what made Demant attractive to you?
The main reason is because I am curious about different cultures, people, and languages. I have lived and studied in Sweden most of my life and I wanted to experience something new. I also wanted to go to a big city and a big company quite closely located to family and friends. Therefore, I thought it would be a great idea to work and live in Copenhagen.
About Oticon, I got to know the company through an acquaintance during a career fair who recommended me to apply to the programme. What I really liked was that Oticon is a med-tech company, so Oticon develop products that help improve people’s lives. I find that very interesting, because I think this is the closest I can get to actually help people improve their life quality through my job. Moreover, I wanted to do a graduate programme because I was not sure about the career that I wanted to pursue and thought it would be optimal to try different jobs.
Can you please describe your rotations?
I started my first rotation in Product Quality. I had several different tasks that I was mostly driving by myself which involved project- and stakeholder management. I got a good understanding of products we have on the market and of how important the product quality of medical devices is. I had especially one very interesting project where I was looking into environment friendly requirements related to our products. I had to interact with a lot of people since many different aspects of sustainability were considered. I really liked working on this project and it helped me discover that I could imagine myself go in the direction of project management.
In my second rotation, I was in Hardware in R&D, in the mechanical engineering team. I was involved in a project developing a hearing aid, and I also participated in some side projects regarding material and environment. I learned a lot about how the hearing aid looks inside and what it can do. I took part in the product development and mechanical design process, where I was working on smaller tasks in CAD, creating models in 3D, running a small user test, and driving component investigations.
In my third rotation, I worked in Discovery, also in R&D, which is what we call the innovation team. It was very interesting to work there. I worked mainly as a mechanical engineer, and I participated in two different projects where we generated and discussed a lot of ideas, concepts, and designs.
Now I am in the end of my last rotation, which takes place in one of our Product Managements’ team in Portfolio and Program Management. I am currently participating in two different projects. On one hand, I am driving one project, which is very interesting and challenging. I work with a lot of different stakeholders practicing my stakeholder management skills every day and I am learning a lot both about product management, commercial mindset, and features, but also about the whole organization and where decisions are being made. In addition to this project, I am supporting a Product Manager on our connectivity area looking into business cases and describing use cases we want to address.
Overall, I am very happy about all my rotations, and when choosing them I think the best strategy for me has been to go for the thing that suited me best and seemed the most interesting to me at that moment in time. I think it has been a winning concept and, in each rotation, I have been very passionate about what I have been working with.
What does the Discovery team work on?
The innovation team looks into new technologies, new concepts, and new potential products. They try to look 5, 10 years ahead into the future and work on very interesting and creative projects. The team collaborates with product management, to get ideas and understand needs from the market and users. When there is a clear idea of a project, a project normally runs from six months to one year and is mainly focused on the concept phase, followed by prototypes. Once you have tested the prototypes with users, the team presents them to a board that decides if the idea is good enough, feasible and should be further explored, or if the project will discontinue.
What about Product management? What does that entail?
The product management team I am part of is in charge of defining our product portfolio and plan which products and when products should be released to the market. They investigate the market needs, describe use cases that should be addressed, conduct business research and come with ideas regarding products, and plan the portfolio for several years ahead. During this rotation I am gaining a new perspective, I learn about the value proposition, whereas in earlier rotations I have focused more on technical feasibility. Also, in product management, the focus is more on our customers also called HCPs (Hearing Care Professionals). If the HCPs like a product, they will most likely propose it to a user. I think getting that perspective has broadened my profile even more.
How is it to experience the company as an international employee?
I think it is an excellent company for international employees. Everyone is friendly, and I think they do not treat you differently if you are not Danish. The main language is English, but I think I have had an advantage of being Swedish, since there are many similarities in culture and language. I have actually learnt to speak Danish thanks to the similarities. In general, I find that most people here are also curious about Sweden, and many colleagues ask me questions so they can compare my experience of things in Sweden to the Danish culture. Overall, it has so far been a great experience here at Demant.
It's inspiring to hear about women working in STEM subjects. When you decided back then to study mechanical engineer, what made you decide to get into the field?
When I was in high school, math was always fun, and it came very naturally to me. Writing and subjects like social sciences, did not come as easily to me and I did not find them as interesting. So, I always thought I wanted to study something related to math or natural science at the University. I also knew I wanted to study something broad after high school since I did not know what I wanted to work with in the future. Engineering seemed quite interesting, but I was also unsure if it was something for me; however, I decided to give it a try. I got accepted into the mechanical engineering program, which I am very happy about because I think it suited me well. I am a bit creative which I could use in my product development master, and I like the actual physical and hands-on part because it is tangible.
How is it to be in this field as a woman?
In my education, we were about 30% women and 70% men. When I went to Canada, in the mechanical engineering courses we were about 3 women out of 40 students. That was probably the first time I was really reflecting on the fact that there are few women in the field. However, now that I am doing a rotation in more of the commercial part of the organization, there are many women. It is very inspiring as a young professional woman to see that there are a lot of power women having roles with a lot of responsibility. I think one challenge, at least for me, is that in general I have seen men being on average more confident, whereas women in general are more prone to doubting themselves. I think we need to be a bit more convincing and believe in ourselves. It may also come with age, and maybe this is the case in all fields, but since there are many men in the engineering field maybe I sense it a bit more.
What is next, after the graduate programme?
I will start working in Discovery as a junior discovery project manager on the 1st of September and I am very excited about it. I like the idea of being a project manager in a context where I need to have a creative mindset while working with the newest technologies. It really motivates me when there is room to be creative and discuss a lot of concepts and solutions. I am happy there was an opening in the team and that they believe in me. I think this will be a great start of my career after the graduate programme. Thanks to the graduate programme I found out that I really like working within the area of new products. I also realized that I am flexible and that there are many different jobs that I could see myself in.