Three decades of “Festo” in Kaunas: from two to half a thousand employees
For nearly three decades, the division of a global giant “Festo” in Kaunas has been growing and changing together with the city, Lithuania and the whole world. Starting with just a few employees and product sales services, today’s “Festo” in Kaunas provides about 150 different services and unites about 500 employees with different competencies. Rapid growth and progressive approach of the company have been recognized at the “K.A.V.A. 2019” business awards, where “Festo” was awarded in the “Foreign Investor: Services” nomination.
For over 90 years, the name of “Festo” has been renowned worldwide for industrial automation. The Lithuanian division is an internal service center working with colleagues in other countries in sales order processing and other sales-related services, business assistance, accounting, IT and engineering. “Festo” products are distributed in Lithuania by the sales team.
“Our contribution to “Festo’s” overall activity is best reflected in our contribution to the global processes of the organization. For example, our Document Processing Center staff is responsible for primary sales documents from 25 countries, which means that we are a strategic partner in ensuring the sales of “Festo” products. Another example is our IT department working together with IT centers in Asia as well as North and South America to ensure uninterrupted support for global IT services 24/7,” says Giedrė Belazarienė, Head of Human Resources at “Festo” Lithuania.
Focus on customer and innovation
The service center of a manufacturing company has its own specificity and differs from the service centers that serve another kind of companies. What are the differences?
“First of all, the variety of functions: it covers all areas of the production company (from the registration of sales documents to the planning of production operations, etc.). Another feature is attention to the customer. This means that the customer’s order must be executed on time and meet high-quality standards,” says Belazarienė.
It is no coincidence that in Lithuania, “Festo” has two teams working solely on the planning and distribution of production orders globally. G. Belazarienė also mentions interesting projects that help the colleagues in production sector: last year, the team of IT developers in Kaunas created a platform that helps new production workers learn how to work on the assembly line with the aid of virtual reality glasses. This technology has reduced the training of new employees from 8 hours to 1 hour!
From two employees to half a thousand
Recalling the start of “Festo” in Kaunas, G. Belazarienė mentions that at that time there was only the sales team, and today “Festo” provides about 150 different services in Lithuania.
“This means that since 1992, we not only have grown in the number of employees but also changed the profile of our company. It’s pleasant to see that starting with 2 employees, we currently have almost 500 of them,” says the Head of Human Resources.
What’s the secret to success? Sincere, healthy ambitious and dedicated people who are not afraid to take on new challenges while being focused on the high quality of the work they do. According to G. Belazarienė, the work of Lithuanian team speaks for itself, and it is often praised saying that “you (Lithuanians) are amazing: you speak several languages, work quickly and efficiently as well as achieve every goal that you establish”.
Career growth opportunities: both vertical and horizontal
Photo: Giedrė Belazarienė, Head of Human Resources at “Festo” Lithuania.
All businesses feel that the labor market in Kaunas becomes more and more dynamic and competitive: the Head of Human Resources at “Festo” says that as Kaunas attracts more investors and more solid players appear in the market, all companies have to step up and take on the challenges when looking for new employees and trying to maintain the existing ones.
“On the other hand, we see all the challenges as an opportunity. At “Festo” we emphasize the importance of the human being inside the company, we want to recognize each other by values in our daily work, behavior, and relationship with one another,” says Belazarienė.
According to her, staff selection focuses on candidates’ motivation, attitude towards work and knowledge of the foreign language. Work experience is often not necessary as job functions are taught by the company.
Employees have both horizontal and vertical career growth opportunities. If the employee has already mastered the existing job function, there is a chance to get new challenges or projects, or even become a team leader.
Because of the wide range of services that a company provides, there are many specialists from various fields: from accountants to engineers or systems administrators. When new colleagues start working, they always receive training, so you have the opportunity to work in other professions that differ from your acquired specialty. For example, the engineering department at “Festo” employs several specialists who have completed their studies in German philology.
A lot of attention is paid to cooperation with higher education institutions: there are ongoing projects with VMU Centre for Enterprise Practices, every year the company participates in KTU career days and other events. The company offers internships for students of various profiles, and employees are invited to attend lectures and share their experience.
A year ago, cooperation with Kaunas Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas Gymnasium was started to help students choose their future career path.
An important aspect of internationalization
Although the majority of “Festo” employees are from Kaunas, they are not limited to Lithuania. “It is great that we have colleagues who came back from abroad to work here in Lithuania. Our CEO is from Finland, we have colleagues from Latvia, Poland, Russia, Germany, and Italy. We even have one colleague from Argentina,” says G. Belazarienė.
Not only the team but also the DNA of the company is international: globally, “Festo” is a family-owned company, which places great emphasis on internal culture and values that are not simply written down but are followed in everyday work.
Working at a service center: it’s fun
G. Belazarienė claims that the image of work in service centers being monotonous and tedious does not match the reality.
“In fact, a service center has everything: from functions that have a more repetitive rhythm to tasks that require critical thinking, analytical skills, process and/or project management skills which is far from the daily routine at work,” she says.
According to the Head of Human Resources, working in an organization such as “Festo” allows the employee to see closely the processes and organization of a large company, and to apply foreign language skills. That is why a wide variety of specialists find their place inside the organization: those who want stability and peace of mind, and those expecting dynamics and challenges.