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Talent Development at KION

Will you give me the opportunity to progress? This question probably comes up in every job interview. For many applicants, further training opportunities play an important role in their career choice. That’s why the KION Group and its brands have a range of talent development programs tailored to different target groups, ensuring that the company reaches employees at as many different career levels as possible. Former participants provide an insight into the programs and share their experiences.


Marie-Elaine’s work motto is: I can learn something from everyone. That’s why she is extremely grateful to her colleagues who supported her during the trainee program and worked on various topics with her.

Marie-Elaine Clarysse, Former Participant of the KION Management Trainee Program

Tell us about your role and your day-to-day responsibilities.

I am currently Team Leader in the Key Account Team at Linde Automation International. Our job is to help our most valuable customers achieve greater performance, reliability, and efficiency using our automation solutions. Our team is actively involved in automation projects in various countries with a view to potentially expanding these projects to other locations and countries. We also handle communication with the central engineering and innovation teams at customers’ main offices. Building these relationships is crucial if we want to be invited to participate in future automation projects in other locations and helps to lay the foundation for automation partnerships in general. We have a lot of customer contact, but we also work a lot with colleagues around the world.

How did you hear about the program?

After completing my Mechanical Engineering degree in Belgium and Germany, I searched online for graduate programs with an international element. My main criteria were that I wanted to live abroad, specialize in a fast-growing field of technology, and be part of a multinational group. The KION Management Trainee Program with a spotlight on automation and intralogistics ticked all these boxes.

What was the best thing about this program?

For me, it was definitely the opportunity to build a cross-functional network. I met so many interesting and inspiring people during the trainee program. Everyone has their own point of view and way of working. During those 18 months, I had the opportunity to learn from lots of colleagues and the time to explore and find the department where I could reach my full potential. This helped me a lot personally, because I didn’t have a clear career plan when I graduated. This program is perfect if you are ambitious and willing to go the extra mile and have a “can-do” attitude.

How have you evolved through the program?

It was definitely challenging in the beginning. I didn’t know the industry or how to speak German, or anything about working in general. As I got to work in different areas, it gradually became easier for me to see the overall picture and understand how the different parts of the KION puzzle fit together. The more I got to know the company, the more confident I became, and I got used to stepping outside my comfort zone. Since my target job role wasn’t clearly defined from the outset, I got to work with my manager to design my first role during the last phase of the program.

The KION Management Trainee Program in one word:


“The explore@KION ITS EMEA Program was a defining moment in my career. As well as giving me the opportunity to develop new skills, learn new tools, and network in our company, it also helped me with my personal development,” says Aitor.

Aitor Rojas, Former Participant of the explore@KION ITS EMEA Program

Tell us about your role and your day-to-day responsibilities.

I am currently Global Tender Manager in the International Key Account (IKA) department at Linde Material Handling. In this role, I am primarily responsible for overseeing and managing the global tenders for our most important IKAs. On a day-to-day basis, I manage the complex international tendering processes and ensure that our offers are in line with the particular needs and expectations of our key customers. I also optimize our pricing and ensure that we maintain healthy profitability. This includes strategic planning, collaboration in cross-functional teams, and meticulously detailed work to ensure that we present persuasive and competitive offers.

How did you hear about the program?

I first learned about explore@KION ITS EMEA from my former manager. I was the regional IKA manager for Northeast Asia at the time. The opportunity to participate in the program then arose during my move to Barcelona. It was a great opportunity for me to develop my career.

What was the best thing about this program?

What the program fundamentally does is help you to develop a deep sense of self-awareness. Through introspective exercises and careful guidance, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of what drives me in my career, what sets me apart as a person, and what motivates me personally and professionally. There were also lots of practical exercises that enabled me to improve my skills and add to my professional toolbox. I was especially impressed by the collaborative environment and, in particular, the feedback rounds with the other participants. Dealing with different perspectives and handling constructive feedback were an important part of the learning process.

How have you evolved through the program?

The explore program gave me a unique platform for self-discovery. I was able to find out not only who I am, but also which direction I want to take my career in. My colleagues’ contagious motivation had a great impact on my work, as did the support and ideas I gained through my collaboration with them. I was then able to put the new tools and approaches I had learned into practice in my day-to-day work, and this was noticed by my line manager.

explore@KION ITS EMEA in one word:


In her role as Senior Director Global Contracts & Sustainability, Andrea is also responsible for supply chain sustainability reporting and supports various sustainability projects within the CTO Organization. She was promoted to her current position thanks to the KTMP.

Andrea Engel, Former Participant of the KION Transition to Management Program

Tell us about your role and your day-to-day responsibilities.

I am currently Senior Director Global Contracts & Sustainability at the KION Group. On the contracts side, my team and I provide legal support for global procurement, assisting with contract negotiations and any issues that may arise. We are also responsible for the associated reporting. In sustainability, my team and I support Corporate Sustainability in their work to incorporate KION’s sustainability goals into global procurement and implement them operationally in that area. This means that we analyze our suppliers, integrate sustainability criteria into our procurement processes, and work toward reducing our greenhouse gas emissions from the supply chain to net zero by 2050.

How did you hear about the program?

Two colleagues from the Procurement department participated in the program a year before me, and my manager at the time had recommended me for the program.

What was the best thing about this program?

Definitely the other participants. I got to know so many great colleagues from different locations, including Dematic, who I would never have met otherwise. The whole program has very much brought us all together and created long-term connections. The coaches were also excellent and the content was really interesting—I found the topics of leadership and personal development particularly fascinating.

How have you evolved through the program?

Firstly, I was promoted to Senior Director, which was thanks to the program. Secondly, I gained some valuable insights that will help shape how I manage my team, as well as support my development on a personal level.

The KION Transition to Management Program in one word?

Growth mindset.

Wendy found the Women’s Mentoring Program inspiring and connecting. Not only did she learn a lot from her mentor, but she was also able to build networks across all OUs.

Wendy Wilker, Former Participant of the Women’s Mentoring Program

Tell us about your role and your day-to-day responsibilities.

I am currently Director Process and Project Management in Continuous Improvement (CI) at the KION subsidiary Dematic. My responsibilities include leading and overseeing process improvement projects that boost productivity and business performance across all functions and regions. I also lead the Dematic CI Council and am responsible for managing CI training and Lean Six Sigma certification at Dematic.

How did you hear about the program?

My manager nominated me for the Women’s Mentoring Program.

What was the best thing about this program?

The opportunity to network with the other participants and to have open conversations with my mentor were the highlights for me. I was able to gain an authentic insight into my mentor’s professional career. We talked a lot too about how covid has changed how teams are managed. I was also able to build cross-company networks through the program and got to know female colleagues from all OUs.

How have you evolved through the program?

The Women’s Mentoring Program has helped me gain an even deeper insight into our day-to-day work at KION and in the OUs, and this knowledge helps me in my daily work. I also benefit greatly from the networks that have developed and continue to grow.

The Women’s Mentoring Program in one word?

Inspiring and connecting.

For Eric, the Dematic Leadership Course was not only transformative, but also inspiring: “I was able to learn so many new skills that I am now using today. What is most impressive, however, is that Dematic has invested in me as a person,” he explains.

Eric Averill, Former Participant on the Dematic Leadership Course

Tell us about your role and your day-to-day responsibilities.

My current role is Director of Product Management at Dematic. I lead a team of product managers focused on providing standard solutions and products for the sales and solutions team around the globe.

How did you hear about the program?

My manager recommended me for the program. When he told me about it, I was really excited that I would have the opportunity to participate. It’s really motivating when management invests in you and your development.

What was the best thing about this program?

I couldn’t narrow it down to just one thing, as there are several things that I really enjoyed and took away from the training. Firstly, I think it’s great that Dematic is investing in the leaders of tomorrow. Secondly, the program focuses not just on Dematic and KION’s core values, but also on me as an individual and how I can use my strengths for the greater good. Last but not least, all participants were given a six-month membership in a personal coaching program. I can honestly say that this was one of the most valuable development stages of my career. I have learned skills that have improved not just my day-to-day work but also my life away from the office!

How have you evolved through the program?

I had an “aha” moment in the very first session when I realized what skills and tasks motivate me and how I can use these strengths in all facets of my work and when building a team. By speaking to a personal coach, I was able to take an even closer look at some of the areas that I felt I needed to practice or refine. Communication, interacting with my manager, delivering bad news – these were all things I could focus on every other week in a 1:1 session. The positive feedback I got from my manager showed that the sessions and the personal coaching really made a difference.

The Dematic Leadership Course in one word?

Transformative. I mean transformative in the way I approach my team, solve problems, and even seek support from colleagues and other executives.

Talent development programs at KION at a glance

The KION Management Trainee Program is an 18-month global development program of the KION Group. Applications are primarily open to master's graduates from a variety of disciplines who want take their first step on the career ladder within KION. In this program, participants rotate through a total of 4 stations to get to know the target function and key interfaces and partners. Also included is a 5-month assignment at one of KION's international locations. There they will learn new working methods and cultures and will be able to work with international teams on site. Throughout the program, participants are accompanied by a senior manager who acts as a mentor.

Each new trainee also has a buddy from previous groups who acts as a close confidant to guide the talent through the program. After going through the program, management trainees are expected to take on responsibilities in their target functions. The first group started in 2019 with five people. Group 2 was also attended by five people and the third group, which has been running since October 2022, has eight trainees. In October 2023, the 4th round has now started with a total of twelve trainees.

The explore@KION ITS EMEA talent development program is aimed at employees from all KION ITS regions worldwide without previous disciplinary management responsibility who show the potential and willingness to take the next step in their career, e.g. taking on a first management role or functional responsibility. Over ten months, the twenty participants engage in self-reflection and self-leadership, leadership, career orientation, communication, and new ways of working.

A one-hour 1:1 coaching session marks the end of the program, during which they can clarify any questions and problems with their trainer. The program helps participants define their own career goals and priorities, drive their own careers, gain visibility in the company and build an international network.

The KION Transition to Management Program (KTMP) is a Group-wide development program that systematically prepares high-potential employees for an executive position and networks them across the Group. Employees from all operating units and Group functions can participate. Over a period of twelve months, the group of around 15-20 participants focuses on three key topics: Authentic Leadership Style, Leading in Change, in Transformation Processes and Across Cultures, and KION Strategy and General Management Capabilities.

The program aims to strengthen participants' leadership and general management skills and improve their strategic competencies. It also provides an opportunity to interact and share insights with KION employees from different OUs, functions and nationalities. Since 2017, four groups have already successfully completed the program.

The Women's Mentoring Program aims to promote female talent at KION and provide a platform for mutual exchange of knowledge and experience. By providing individual advice and trustworthy support, the program offers the opportunity to gain new insights and develop personally and professionally. The mentoring process includes several steps and lasts approximately one year. It begins with the matching and training of mentees and mentors.

The heart of the mentoring program is the encounter phase: In joint meetings, the mentees and mentors exchange experiences, learn from each other, and discuss concrete situations. The mentoring ends with a reflection on further development.

Over the past 12 months, KION brand Dematic has established a new program structure for the leadership development of its managers, based on the three pillars Leading Self, Leading Others and Leading the Business. Under these, various programs that include formal learning opportunities and opportunities for informal development are combined. The Ready for Leadership course supports aspiring employees who have the potential and desire to advance to a leadership position as part of their career.

The Leadership Essentials course helps leaders learn the fundamentals of effective leadership. The Dematic Leadership Course development program is designed to empower experienced leaders to execute the strategy of the business. Five days of personalized, high-energy learning are coupled with each participant's unlimited access to an ICF-certified leadership coach for 6 months to support them in their personal and professional goals. Informal learning formats, such as the Dematic Leadership Gym, provide leaders with monthly learning workouts and additional curated leadership development content.

The KION ITS EMEA Talent Pool is a new talent development program that will launch for the first time in October 2023 with 44 participants. The offer is aimed at talents from the KION ITS EMEA organization. The focus is on individual development as well as building and expanding their networks. The program is scheduled to start once a year, lasting two years. In the first year, the focus is on cross-functional project work and networking, and in the second year on individual development measures.

The cross-functional project work, in which the talents work on a strategically relevant KION ITS EMEA project for a period of approximately six months, broadens their horizons, their knowledge and their project work experience. Through the program, participants can network with each other and get in touch with the Leadership Team.