What it does: Supplies aggregates and concrete/concrete products
Staff stats: 90,000
The good bits: Getting broad experience
The not so good bits: Working in remote locations
Hiring grads with degrees in: All discipines
The Holcim story
What’s now Holcim was founded in 1912 by Swiss businessman Adolf Gygi. Gygi’s building materials business, Aargauische Portlandcementfabrik Holderbank-Wildegg, soon merged with a competitor, Rheintalischen Cementfabrik Rüthi, owned by Ernst Schmidheiny.
Within a decade, Gygi and Schmidheiny’s enterprise, now known as Holderbank, had established a firm foundation in Switzerland and was beginning to expand into France. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the company continued to expand internationally, typically through acquisitions. By the start of WWII, Holderbank had a presence in Belgium, Egypt, Germany, Lebanon, the Netherlands and South Africa. During the post-war boom, the company conquered the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as most of South America. The company went public in 1958.
By the mid-1980s, Holderbank had also established beachheads in Latin America and Asia and become the world’s biggest cement manufacturer. Following the fall of the Berlin War, the company pushed into Eastern Europe and Russia.
In 2001 the company changed its name to Holcim (a contraction of Holderbank ciment) and focused its attention on the booming Asian market. In 2005, Holcim bought the British heavy building materials manufacturer Aggregate Industries for US$4.1 billion (A$5.3 billion). In the same year, it also gained a foothold in India by acquiring stakes in Associated Cement Companies and Ambuja Cement Eastern.
In 2008, the company took a controlling stake in China’s Huaxin Cement. In 2009, it acquired Cemex Australia, a business with a seven-decade-long history of supplying aggregate, sand, concrete and concrete products across Australia. (Cemex Australia was formed from Readymix and Humes.)
Holcim currently operates 250 concrete plants, 900 mixer trucks, 12 precast concrete factories and 65 quarries in Australia. Aside from premixed concrete, concrete pipes and other concrete products, it also supplies rail ballast, aggregates, gravels, road-pavement materials and manufactured and natural sands. Holcim hires out mobile crushing, screening and quarrying equipment. It also offers mobile and on-site batching operations.
In 2015 Holcim merged with rival behemoth Lafarge to form the gigantic building-materials company LafargeHolcim. (Holcim continues to trade under its own name in this part of the world.) LafargeHolcim, headquartered in Jona, Switzerland, supplies aggregates, cement, premixed concrete and related solutions and products in over 80 countries. In 2017, the company had revenue of $US27.6 billion ($A36 billion).
Holcim believes an inclusive workplace “drives sustainability, innovation and high performance”. Given how male-dominated its workforce has historically been, Holcim has made a particular effort to recruit and promote more women. In 2016, it created a Women’s Task Force to increase the female workforce participation rate.
Since its creation, the Women’s Task Force has improved networking opportunities for female staff. It has run regular ‘Diversity Days’. It has supplied female-friendly industrial workwear and personal protective equipment. It has also rejigged leave arrangements to allow staff on parental leave to continue to be paid super and receive a substantial return to work bonus when they resume their careers.
Holcim strives to be “responsible and ethical”. It aims to provide “safe and satisfying high-performing workplaces for our employees”. It also aspires to “working closely with our neighbours and local communities to make sure we are accepted as good citizens”.
The company donates to community projects, educational activities and charitable institutions in the countries in which it operates. In Australia it supports the Beacon Foundation, which works to reduce youth unemployment. It also funds Technical Aid to the Disabled, which assists retired engineers invent devices to improve the lives of disabled Australians.
While the company’s operations impact on the environment, Holcim aspires to minimise then reverse that impact through adhering to strict environmental management systems and rehabilitating quarries once they are no longer being used. Holcim’s staff partner with environmental protection agencies and schools to restore scrub, wetland and endangered-species habitats.
Since 2003, the Holcim (now LafargeHolcim) Foundation for Sustainable Construction has spent millions raising awareness of the role “architecture, engineering, urban planning and construction have in achieving a more sustainable future”.
The recruitment process
As long as you're an Australian or New Zealand citizen who has graduated within the last couple of years, it doesn’t appear to matter much what kind of degree you have. Applicants need to have the ambition to be a future leader of the company. They also need to have an interest in working “in real operations roles across [Holcim’s] aggregates, ready-mix concrete and pre-cast concrete businesses”.
The company has 300 sites across Australia and New Zealand. You’ll need to be willing to work at several of them during the two-year-long grad program. Grads often find themselves based in Townsville, Brisbane, Coffs Harbour, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.
The recruitment process begins with an online application made via the careers page of the company website. The next stage involves submitting a video presentation. If that goes well, you’ll progress to the ‘phone screen and psychometric testing stage’. The final hurdle is a visit to an assessment centre. (As well as taking part in face-to-face interviews, you’ll also be taken on a site visit during this assessment-centre visit.) If you pass the medical and your references check out, you’ll then receive a letter of offer.
Grads take part in a program that “blends professional development with technical training and individualised learning options”. They do three eight-month-long rotations and get broad exposure to at least two business units. They also undertake leadership training to prepare them for future management roles. Moving around various sites, grads “experience different places, people and functions in real jobs working on real projects”.
Holcim offers “competitive salaries” that are regularly reviewed. It pays its staff more super (12.5 per cent) than its required, as well as leave loadings when they go on holidays. It also provides financial assistance when employees relocate. The company’s employees also have access to “various deals and discounts” negotiated by the company’s procurement team.
While in the grad program, you’ll be paired with a buddy and mentor. You’ll also have a “dedicated manager who can work with you to develop your career plan”. You’ll work across a range of business divisions in different locations. This will facilitate you exploring “what you really want and where you really want to go”. Throughout your career at Holcim, you’ll be presented with professional development opportunities that will help you reach your career goals. Given the size of the company, there is no shortage of roles both in Australia and overseas.
The vibe of the place
Holcim invests heavily in retaining innovative, high-performance staff. It provides employees with “direction, leadership and recognition” as well as valuing their contribution and nurturing their personal and professional development. The company’s three core values are ‘strength, performance and passion’ and staff are encouraged to work together harmoniously to “deliver on [Holcim’s] promises to customers and our communities”.
Staff seem to find Holcim’s corporate culture agreeable; the average length of employment is eight years.
"Hiring grads with degrees in: Engineering, Maths, IT & Computer Sciences; Finance, Accounting, Economics & Business Administration; Health & Medical Sciences; Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences; Law & Legal Studies; Property & Built Environment; Sciences; Teaching, Education & Human Welfare
The Holcim Graduate Program:
Holcim believes that by identifying and investing in your potential, we can develop our future leaders. As a participant in our graduate program, you will actively contribute and engage with the business learning industry best practice from key Holcim people.
Focused on developing operational managers, you will be exposed to our three business units: Aggregates (quarrying), Concrete (production) and Humes (heavy industrial manufacturing).
Commencing in February 2019, our two year program is comprised of three, eight month rotations tailored to both your interests and business need. Moving across various sites, you will experience different places, people and functions in real jobs working on real projects.
Why join Holcim?
Holcim offers you a varied career path supported by diverse training opportunities. We are an industry leader in health and safety and are proud of our commitment to environmental sustainability. Diversity is valued with our organisation and as such we promote equal opportunities in recruitment, employment, development and retention.
Further to this, on offer is:
Our program is open to those who are currently in their final year or those who have recently completed their Bachelor's degree. This is the ideal opportunity for the adventurous, as you will be required to live and work in regional and/or interstate locations for extended periods of time."