Do you know where Aalst is? Is there a reason why you should know? Yes! Aalst, which is somewhere between Brussels and Ghent, is home to Ontex, one of the world’s leading producers of personal hygiene solutions for babies, women and adults. This Belgian company has a Global Graduate Program that invests in young talents to help them develop their personal and professional capabilities.
In this article, Emma, who was born and raised in Belgium, finds out what it was like for Abhi from India to integrate in Belgium, and more specifically, in Ontex. Both are currently taking part in the second edition of Ontex’s Global Graduate Program.
Born and raised in Mumbai and having studied in London, what attracted you to Belgium?
"Having lived in the UK for three years I wanted to experience a new country. For me, Belgium was a good option because the business school tuition fees are much lower in Belgium than in other European countries, and you still get to study in a top ranked school. And of course, my mother had been working in Belgium for a few years already which made my decision easier. The Belgian culture is quite welcoming and the people really appreciate and respect you for the quality of your work. That’s exactly the kind of environment where you learn and grow as a person."
How did you start your job research?
"I was quite sure that I wanted to do a graduate program where I could experience different aspects of a business, so I started looking for such opportunities. Vlerick Business School, the business school I was attending, organized various networking events where I spoke with the representatives of several companies, including Ontex."
Was language a barrier?
"Yes, English is not the main language in Belgium, so finding a job can be challenging. Having said that, it never stopped me from looking for companies that are willing to hire internationals, and I kept a positive approach. I would like to say that today there are a number of companies in Belgium that specifically look for people who just speak English."
Now that you have been part of it for a few months, what do you think of the Ontex Global Graduate Program?
"The idea of starting my work professional experience in a production plant and spending one month on an assignment outside my comfort zone really attracted me to the program. Additionally, the assignment abroad was a crucial factor as I believe that you grow as a person when you experience different cultures. Right from day one, I felt very welcome at Ontex. The company is changing fast and you can really feel that you are part of this change. People within the company understand the importance of having young talent and really believe in the Graduate Program. So far, my journey as a graduate has been both exciting and challenging at the same time. There is a reason it’s called ‘Your story of GROWTH’!"
Last but not least, why Ontex, Abhi?
"For starters, Ontex is a Belgian company but is as international as it gets. There are people from all parts of the world and you can see that the company values its cultural diversity. Secondly, every single person here is really passionate about what he/she does and everyone works as one team. People are willing to share ideas and help each other develop. So, if you are looking to learn and grow, there are very few places better than Ontex!"