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Lillian Chiu is a ‘Discovery Program’ graduate and electrical designer at ABB Canada.Supplied

As a freshly minted McGill University graduate, Lillian Chiu was looking for an opportunity to learn more about global technology leader ABB Canada and what she could do there with her electrical engineering degree. While an undergrad, she had already interned at the Canadian headquarters based in Montréal, so was intrigued by the possibilities of its Young Talent Discovery Program. Her application – including a business case pitch that she presented in the third round of interviews for a panel of several managers – was ultimately successful.

“As someone without vast work experience, I was curious about what happens inside a corporation like ABB,” says Chiu, 25, a program graduate and now an electrical designer. “The Discovery Program lets you do that. It’s really interesting because you get to work in the different business areas, in different job functions or roles aligned with what you studied. I saw that there was so much I could do there as an engineer.”

Rose-Anne Gabriel, program manager of the Discovery Program, says that as a large company, ABB has a wide-ranging scope of activities in several industries, so it’s ideal for new graduates who aren’t yet sure of what they want to do.

“The program allows them to go through different rotations in an 18-to-24-month period, so they can explore different avenues and get to understand the different positions you can fill at ABB,” says Gabriel. “One of the elements we look for in candidates are soft skills because we’re empowering these participants to be future leaders at ABB – that means communication, collaboration, leadership and problem-solving skills. Other elements include technical skills and experience, so their previous work through internships or school projects, as well as involvement in student associations and the community. We want candidates who are well rounded.”

The Discovery Program is highly competitive, with over 1,000 applicants for 11 positions last year. While there’s some choice, Gabriel says rotations are often based on business needs, depending on which projects require support.

“A successful candidate is a person who is open to the opportunities that are presented to them, regardless of whether or not they are fully trained,” says Gabriel. “It’s someone who is willing to learn as much as possible in the moment, and who aspires to contribute and make an impact.”

Chiu describes the program as challenging “in a good way,” where you grow by opening your mind and stepping out of your comfort zone.

“In each rotation, my manager was a positive influence and mentor to me,” says Chiu. “I always felt like it was an environment where they fostered my learning and growth. Beyond that, I took the initiative and networked by reaching out to people within the company who were doing work that I found interesting. I’ve had positive responses from that.”

Gabriel says that one of the best things about the program is the wealth of experience and knowledge that participants can access – different professionals who are experts in their fields.

“People at ABB are always willing to share their experiences,” she says. “We benefit as well from the creative mindsets of the recent graduates who bring in new ideas.”

Chiu has already transitioned from her third rotation into her permanent role, choosing to stay on that team – designing power systems for railway projects – which fits with her career goals and values around sustainability and technological advancement.

“I’m working on technologies that aim to reduce carbon emissions,” says Chiu. “Knowing I have even a little bit of impact fighting climate change aligns with my personal beliefs and gives me a sense of purpose and meaning.”

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Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.

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