Global leader in access solutions, ASSA ABLOY, gives co-op students access to a variety of work experiences

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Person holding their phone using an ASSA ABLOY smart lock to unlock a door

By: Namish Modi

Waterloo students at a multi-national organization enjoy diverse roles in their work terms and are encouraged to return to continue developing their skills.

From reliable home security to cutting-edge biometric technology, ASSA ABLOY — a global leader in access solutions — develops automatic doors, passport controls, and related products and services. Since 2019, University of Waterloo co-op students have been key contributors to their growing workforce.

Steven Hong (BMath’95), ASSA ABLOY’s CFO for Greater China and South East Asia Division, is a driving force behind the company’s thriving relationship with Waterloo Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE).

In 2020, ASSA ABLOY hired 23 students from 13 different programs at Waterloo.

The organization has about 49,000 employees in more than 70 countries around the world with headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden.

“There are couple of areas that we're focusing on for students—collaboration, communications, and problem-solving,” says Hong. “Those are, what I find to be, the critical skills that are transferable in any place that you work.”

Hong says the essential skills students develop in the workplace are not learned in a textbook, but rather through applying them in the job environment.

ASSA ABLOY strongly encourages students to return for multiple work terms so they can experience a variety of roles available in the company.

“We allow the student to choose different roles for each rotation. That way, they can learn the whole spectrum of the specific functions that they want. This is why we are constantly encouraging students to return for a second or third work term.”

- Steven Hong (BMath’95), CFO of ASSA ABLOY for Greater China & South East Asia Division

“Of course, when they graduate, hopefully they would consider us as one of the employers of choice. That is our ultimate goal.”

Six students have already returned for work terms during the short time ASSA ABLOY has been hiring students.

International Excellence award trophy

For its outstanding co-op program, and the opportunities, they provide for students to learn abroad; ASSA ABLOY is the recipient of the 2020 Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) Employer Impact Award for Impact in International Excellence.

“We deeply appreciate ASSA ABLOY’s partnership in retaining and growing internships with Waterloo co-op students for multiple work terms – even through the pandemic,” says Shabnam Ivković, director of international strategic initiatives within CEE.

“ASSA ABLOY has provided high-quality diverse and exciting international opportunities for our student talent. When students develop a variety of skills for their future careers, they are better equipped to navigate an increasingly complex and unpredictable global workforce. International opportunities are especially significant in developing global leadership skills and intercultural competencies, which is a key area of focus in our Future Ready Talent Framework.”

Students who have worked at ASSA ABLOY come from a variety of faculties and programs at Waterloo including Environment and Business, Computer Engineering and Actuarial Science.

Students’ roles include work in logistics management, marketing and research and development.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and associated travel restrictions, meant that co-op students were working remotely in different time zones beginning in Spring 2020. With operations in more than 70 countries, that meant many people were working in different time zones. Later in 2020, and 2021 some co-op students worked in-person in China and South Korea. 

The students’ take

Lenka Guo, a Mathematics/Financial Analysis and Risk Management co-op student, has worked multiple terms at ASSA ABLOY —including an in-person term in Fall 2019. Over three terms, Guo has had different positions: Treasury team within the finance shared services, divisional financial planning & analysis and business commercial finance.

“ASSA ABLOY provides me the opportunity to try different positions in different cities during my co-op term, which is actually really valuable for any undergraduate student. I believe those experiences will give me a lot of support for my future career in finance.”

- Lenka Guo, Mathematics/Financial Analysis and Risk Management co-op student

At the beginning of co-op terms at ASSA ABLOY, supervisors set expectations and mutually agreed-upon goals with their co-op students. Supervisors aim to create a supportive atmosphere where students can apply the knowledge they’ve picked up in the classroom to the workplace.

In the first days of their work term, co-op students begin with an orientation session with human resources and the CFO. Students are paired with mentors to help coach them during the term. They also have opportunities to engage with senior leadership during round table sessions.

Some examples of the kind of work students do at ASSA ABLOY include presenting financial reports, building customer databases and building an e-system implementation.

“The greatest feeling for me after my co-op work term, is that I can apply what I gained from work to the actual learning process and have the passion to seek the connection with previous work experience,” says Tracy Wei, who worked at ASSA ABLOY in Winter 2020 as a finance associate in the supply chain finance team.

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