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“Very Successful Recruiting Instrument”

Ten years as main sponsor in Hockenheim and partner for many teams: In Formula Student, IAV seeks contact with young academics

Overy year, Formula Student attracts hundreds of highly motivated students from all over the world. IAV uses the event in Hockenheim and the longstanding contact with numerous teams to identify top talents and acquire them for the company. For Dr. Bernhard Hayn, head of Talent Acquisition, Strategy and Employer Branding department at IAV, it is particularly important to ensure that Formula Student consistently picks up on current trends, such as electric mobility and autonomous driving.

IAV has been sponsoring Formula Student since 2008. Why have you been doing this for such a long time?

Dr. Bernhard Hayn: Over the last ten years, we have found that this is where we meet students who are extremely motivated and come with a huge passion for the subject of mobility. And this is precisely our target group in recruiting. After so many years, it is always wonderful to see the teams fine-tune their racing cars until well into the night in the pit lane at Hockenheim and then, on the next day, get a sensational result onto the track

How has Formula Student evolved during this time?

Hayn: Time and again, it has picked up on current trends from the world of automotive engineering. Since 2017, there has been a new competition: Formula Student Driverless. Autonomous vehicles line up on the grid, with the human driver only being present on board as a back-up. Just like the two other classes, Formula Student Combustion und Formula Student Electric, the vehicles need to impress with a perfected technical concept as well as their performance on the track, such as in accelerating, driving in a figure of eight (skid pad) and over a long-distance course (endurance). Following Formula Student Electric, this sees the inclusion of a further technical trend which, for us too, plays a central part in vehicle development. I can only say that the achievements of the winning team from Zurich were really impressive. Just like Formula Student Electric, the Driverless event will prove to be a talking point in future with giant leaps in technology.

What in particular do you think the students learn from the competition?

Hayn: Formula Student confronts them with all of the problems that we face in automotive engineering. They also get to know the latest technologies and tools while also gathering broad expertise in today’s relevant fields, such as IT and software development. This makes them so attractive to potential employers, not only in the automotive industry. You find very good technical talent among them.

How do you get this top talent to come to IAV?

Hayn: By providing long-term, in-depth support. We are not only the main sponsor of the Hockenheim event but help twelve teams both technically and financially. They can test their vehicles during the IAV Race Days on an airfield near Stollberg and be “pre-judged” by our experts. The teams value this a great deal. And we are always at their side to answer any questions they may have. This way, the students get to know IAV very well.

Nonetheless, you also have to compete with prominent OEMs on the recruiting market. What’s your argument here?

Hayn: The many different fields we work in are a key argument. In our adverts it says: “From Mini to Maxi”. We develop small vehicles as well as trucks weighing many tons. Besides the breadth of activities we cover, the students also appreciate our lean hierarchies and the proverbial “IAV spirit”, in other words the team spirit that can be felt everywhere in our company. All of this regularly gives us very good scores in employer rankings and firmly plants us in the awareness of our target group. This way, despite the tense situation on the talent market, we manage to attract many first-class experts every year. In 2017, we filled 707 positions, and this year, the figure could even be higher.

How many former Formula Student participants work at IAV today?

Hayn: The direct success is hard to measure. But we have a very vibrant internal Formula Student community. Time and time again, I hear that today’s colleagues got to know us at the Hockenheimring racing circuit or during IAV Race Days. And many of them want to give something back and offer their services as mentors for today’s teams. Formula Student is everywhere at IAV, and for me it’s a very successful recruiting instrument for our company. This is why we will continue to be the main sponsor, support student teams and further extend our offer of help.