Nurturing STEM Talent Through GE’s Graduate Engineering Training Programme (GETP)

Adolfo Jeque remembers always being fascinated by science and mathematics. He would watch the electricians and mechanics at work around his small town in northern Mozambique, fixing power lines, repairing machinery; he knew this was something he really wanted to do, even though the opportunities for employment didn’t always seem all that promising. But Jeque didn’t just have the drive, turns out he also had a talent for all things STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). He was frequently top of his mathematics class, and soon latched onto the idea that what he wanted to become was an engineer.  

Inspired by an uncle who was both a mechanical and electrical engineer, Jeque was determined to become a prominent mechanical engineer and, after completing his engineering degree at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, he found himself embarking on an ambitious two-year Graduate Engineering Training Programme (GETP) with GE Africa.

The goal of the GETP is to fast-track local talent through intensive training and mentorship over a period of 24-months. The programme is competitive, fast-paced, demanding, and rigorous. For the 20 Mozambicans who make the cut, the “best in class” course was designed to prepare the engineers for a promising global career within the company, a golden opportunity for young graduates to grow and build strong careers that would inevitably also benefit their own countries and communities.  

For Jeque, even the process of getting into GETP was competitive and challenging. Once he was accepted, in late 2014, he knew the opportunity would open huge doors for him. “There were more than 150 people competing for a spot and GE was taking only 20,” explains Jeque, “I was so happy when I got in.”

There was good reason for his excitement – Jeque explains that while his theoretical training was intensive and fulfilling, there was little he could do with his degree after he graduated, as places to ply a trade in mechanical engineering were scarce and his hopes for building a career with a global company were almost non-existent. The GE programme was a thrilling opportunity.

“When I studied here in Mozambique I learned everything, but there was nothing more… when GE came it provided so much practical experience, I have to complement it so much, it really helped us build a great foundation to be successful full-service engineers.”

The two-year program works in three rotations. During the first phase, the engineers are trained at the Mozal Training Center in Maputo where intensive laboratory-based classes are delivered to prepare them with the fundamentals. The second phase in in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the PMI Technical Training Engineering College, adds to the instruction with further skills training and mentoring. The third phase, structured over a full year, would be on-the-job training where the engineers will be able to get some hands-on experience with GE and O&G Subsea products.

Jeque’s training rotation took him to Brazil, Ghana, and Nigeria where he learned diverse skills including handling different kinds of complex equipment, leading teams and managing people, and fine-tuning his customer service skills.

“It was a big challenge,” says Jeque, adding, “my training in South Africa taught me how to work in such a big company and [interact] with leaders. It taught me about the commitment you need to have when you work with a big company. For me everything was absolutely new, I had so much to learn… this program taught me so much that I really consider GE to be my second university.”

The leadership training and skills development were both the most challenging and most rewarding for Jeque. Reflecting on his time on the programme he mentions how the GETP multiskilled him, which gave him a chance to stretch his leadership muscles that he now uses as a FSE (Full-Service Engineer) for Subsea Systems in Maputo.

“Now I’m not only leading a team I’m [also] the focal point really, me and my boss are the focal points, for the whole team… the ones that can go to Ghana if they need us, or go anywhere… all the skills I learned in those two-years have helped me today, it was my foundation.”

Jeque adds, “I remember when we were at PMI [in Johannesburg, during phase two of the training] we learned so much about tools and all the practical stuff… the training was specific so we could learn about all the products for the subsea line. There was so much [about the] product to learn. It was very useful…”

In Brazil, Jeque’s on-the-job training was a baptism of fire, working with one of the permanent employees there, he had to execute repairs, maintenance, and routine technical tasks that were critical to keeping the facility running.

During this time, the engineers, Jeque included, also got cross-training, intensive lessons that weren’t immediately pertinent to their current roles but would be parallel skills they would need to excel within the GE company as a whole over the coming years. “When you attend an on-shore training about leadership or project management, or even presenting with impact and clarity… we consider all of those important cross-trainings.”

Jeque, like many other GE leadership training program graduates, found these cross-training sessions so useful that he continues them even now, incrementally increasing his experience and skills in different sectors so he can move around when the company needs him to. He explains that each new training course he goes on gets added to his online profile. When he wants to apply for a promotion or different position, or a manager is looking for someone with more skills for a specific project, they can easily check Jeque’s profile to see how much he has done.

Not that he plans to move anytime soon – Jeque explains that his was the first cohort of engineers on this specific GE program, so right now they’re running the metaphorical ship in Maputo. But a new batch of trainees are about to enter the GETP and it will be up to Jeque to mentor them through the process. It’s a new role he is looking forward to.