What is the corporate culture of IKEA? Any collaborations with universities? Are there opportunities for international students? Here comes the Q&A.
Our professor had invited Johanna Parikka Altenstedt, strategic communications at IKEA of Sweden, as a guest speaker during one of the lectures. Johanna has an extensive experience in journalism and communications and shared with us very interesting insights about IKEA and invited us to visit the headquarter. In case you are wondering, IKEA headquarter lies in Älmhult, the province of Småland and not Stockholm. So that’s how my course mates and I, the 15 of us, ended up at the IKEA Älmhult after a 2.5 hours drive from Borås. I would like to thank Johanna for taking her time in giving us a very wonderful tour in IKEA, answering all our questions and introducing us to the designers and her co-workers. Naturally before the tour started, we had a fika first. A good start!
IKEA is ranked #30 in Universum World’s this year for being one of the most attractive employers among new graduates. Here comes my 12 Q&A targeted for international students who might be interested to find out more about IKEA.
1. What is the corporate language and how diverse is IKEA in Älmhult?
The corporate language is English and we have 47 nationalities in IKEA of Sweden, here in Älmhult.
2. Just curious, how many times do you have typically have fika (coffee break) in a work day?
Maybe twice – morning and afternoon, with lunch in between of course!
3. What are the most important aspects that employees should know?
It is important that staff share IKEA values.
4. Does IKEA offer graduate or trainee programs? If so, is Swedish a requirement in Sweden?
We do have in Sweden a trainee program open to graduates who have worked for one year in a leadership role and this is open to non Swedish speakers as well. Most IKEA retail countries offer localized trainee programs.
5. How can students apply for internships?
Internships are advertised on Open IKEA – our online job site. These are usually more postings at the start of the calendar year.
6. Does IKEA collaborate with certain institutions/universities in the recruitment or ‘headhunting’ of graduates?
Whilst we do not do ‘headhunting’, we do have a strong relationship with the university in Växjo where they have a product development related program that we are involved in. We also cooperate in research with students from Stockholm University (Mobility and digital technology) and Ingvar Kamprad Design Center at Lund University.
7. Does IKEA work with students on research topics/thesis? If yes, what kind of research areas?
We do often collaborate with students on some research topics. However, we do not have a defined process or route for doing this as this is arranged on a local level.
8. How important is the element of fashion in the products?
In the future there might be cooperation with fashion designers as we have now with designers, but not in the near future.
9. How can IKEA help an employee to achieve career advancement? Any training /leadership courses and opportunities to work abroad?
IKEA has a people idea ‘ To give down to earth, straightforward people the possibility to grow both as individuals and in their professional roles, so that together we are strongly committed to creating a better everyday like for ourselves and the many people’. With presence in over 50 countries, IKEA spans such a wide area of jobs, roles, industries and places where there are many opportunities to grow your careers and skills and opportunity to move internationally. From supply, to production, to sales, to retail, to product development, to accounting, to recruitment, to design, to logistics. Our jobs are posted and our co-workers are encouraged to develop through learning about new areas and markets and sharing of their knowledge. There are also leadership program, development program to support in how you can grow or deliver in a better way, and more technical training too.
10. What are some examples of employees’ welfare?
We have an Employee Benefits program – with everything from support offered to participation in various wellness and health related activities, to lease cars, employee discount on IKEA products and discounts offered by partner companies. We also have a number of family friendly policies which offer support through all life stages. And of course, participating in social and team building events.
11. How often do the various departments integrate?
All our support departments work alongside to facilitate the business direction and are very integrated with our every day ways of working.
12. How do you incorporate sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR)?
Sustainability is a strong driver in the value chain and suppliers has to follow our stringent IWAY Code of Conduct. Our Sustainability strategy is called People Planet Positive. Find out more here. Our head of Sustainability, Steve Howard, has recently addressed IKEA’s work to reduce our CO2 print in the latest UN Climate Summit in New York. We are considered one of the branch leaders in Sustainability. For instance, supporting the LED light revolution, IKEA will be converting its full lighting range to LED by 2016. We thus make the impact for a technology change. IKEA Food is also working hard for sustainability. Our material development is looking into using reusable, such as PET bottles as material. To illustrate an example, we now have an audio wall that absorbs noise in a room, made partly of PET-bottles.
What I enjoyed most about the tour was the product development section. It is a huge open area with prototypes, sketches, colors and glass incubators as the meeting rooms. That were really fascinating and inspiring. Although IKEA is about Swedishness, it is also very diverse. I came across people from all backgrounds working together, its a very interesting place to meet and interact with people from all over the world.