With a first round of more than 55 000 applications for just 30 or so places, Global Management Trainee programme (GMT) can clearly have its pick of the crop. But the company’s People VP, Lucia Swartz, says there’s more to gaining one of those coveted places than just high marks.
Clearly, academic performance is important,” says Swartz. “We look for AB InBev Africa’s people with either a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, with at least a B-average or a 3- to 4-point GPA. But, as important, we want candidates with character and the right attitude. They need to be visionary, curious, bold and driven, have an open and global mindset,” says Swartz.
“They need to have a much broader outlook and set of interests than just academia. We’re looking for very well-rounded individuals.” Swartz adds that geographic mobility is also important, and proficiency in English is a requirement. Candidates with up to two years’ worth of work experience will also be considered.
AB InBev was already the world’s biggest brewer when it acquired SABMiller for more than $100 billion in 2016. As part of the AB InBev family, the GMT was launched in Africa the following year. The company has been running the programme in other parts of the world for a number of years.
“We’re not really looking for work experience from graduates because part of the training programme is about giving candidates exposure and experience through the different functions of the business,” explains Swartz. “The programme lasts ten months and during that time, candidates are immersed in hands-on experience in various functional areas from marketing to sales and operations. They’ll do a vocational programme through each of the business’s major functions to give them a sense of what each function has to offer.” In addition, they will work in the organisation’s breweries and head offices, getting to know senior leaders along the way. Applicants come from any of the countries in which AB InBev Africa operates.
Travel, learn and grow
Finally, the trainees from the Africa zone will head off to St. Louis in the USA where they’ll join cohorts from AB InBev’s other international divisions. The 270 trainees will spend a week there during which they get a good view of AB InBev’s rich heritage, undertake problem solving simulations based on life in the organisation, get an overview of the business by global leadership members and selected AB inBev zones from around the world, as well as participate in strategic planning workshops. The group also meets with and is addressed by the group’s CEO, Carlos Brito.
“Once the training programme has been completed, the trainees will be absorbed into various functions of the business,” says Swartz, who notes with pride that the 2017/18 programme is about to end and every single one of its graduates will be joining the business.
“This is a programme that is truly aligned to our recruitment strategy. In general, we do not go to the market to look for experienced talented people. We much prefer to home-grow our own talent at all levels of the company, if we can. So, our graduate trainees and our functional trainees play a really important part in building our organisation’s talent pipeline,” says Swartz.
“Often, when you meet people from other zones of AB InBev, they’ll tell you with great pride, as they introduce themselves, that they were part of the GMT or GMBA (Global MBA programme) and which class they belonged to. There’s a rich heritage here and we put a lot of value to it. It’s an amazing programme!”
“We’ve put a lot of investment behind the GMT,” Swartz confirms, “and we really try to make sure that everyone accepted onto the programme is tracked and monitored. We can follow these people and their success as they progress through the organisation. Many of our very senior managers – members of the leadership team – are graduates.
The GMT is just one part of AB InBev Africa’s training schedule.
“In 2018, we also took on 105 functional trainees in areas like sales, marketing, people, finance, legal and corporate affairs. We have 114 people completing apprenticeships in various disciplines, and another 100 undergoing in-service training for areas like brewing and quality control. We have 265 learnerships and about 13 low-income scholarships. In all, some 600 young people are benefiting in South Africa alone, where, of course, we operate under the South African Breweries Ltd. banner,” explains Swartz.
She is also very clear about the GMT’s alignment with the request by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa for major corporates to employ young graduates.
“There are manifold benefits to these programmes. We’re building skills, capability and affording people experience and opportunities. I think we win and South Africa wins.”
Nor are these benefits just confined to the GMT. AB InBev Africa has made a five-year commitment to the creation of 10 000 real and sustainable jobs.
Swartz is confident that this target will be met: “In 2017, we created 1 800 jobs. They are tracked and monitored on a quarterly basis, they’re compliant with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the minimum wage requirements. These are jobs which are created either down the value chain or up our supply chain. We also have a programme looking specifically at agriculture and recruitment in that sector. But these are not seasonal or part-time jobs – they have to be permanent and full-time.”
There’s no doubt, though, that the GMT is one of AB InBev’s flagship initiatives.
On the programme, you are participating with colleagues from all over the world. The curriculum is the same in the Africa division as anywhere else. So, you’re competing on a truly global stage. It’s a superb opportunity for any young person.
For more information on AB InBev’s Graduate Management Training programme, please visit: