An 18-month ride to the dream job

Your studies are over. It’s time to take the first step into your career. You think you know what you want to do and then it hits you: you’re faced with a daunting array of possibilities and opportunities. Ideals are met with reality. You start to ask yourself questions: What should I be looking for? A decent salary? Interesting projects? Or a good work-life balance?

For Camillo Falco, these were all important conditions. But for the post-graduate chemist, there was another strong driving force: "I wanted to use my knowledge and skills for something worthwhile," says Camillo. So, motivated by the notion of making the world that little bit better through the use of environmentally-friendly technologies, Camillo applied to the Linde Group – and he was successful. 

Camillo Falco’s passion for sustainable energies had in fact begun at an earlier stage. The Italian-born researcher completed his doctorate at the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam where his work focused on hydrothermal carbonization of biomass for energy applications. "It was a really exciting topic," says Camillo. However, he never quite saw how his research could be applied. Instead he found himself all too often worrying about the publication of his next research paper, and that’s not what Camillo was cut out to do: "I wanted to help bring sustainable technologies to the market."  

To this end, Camillo began to look into other options. And that’s when he found Linde’s European Graduate Programme (EGP). The eighteen-month program is all about preparing aspiring young talents for management tasks within the company. The closer he looked at Linde, the more enthusiastic he became about the company's clean technology sector – and the more he pictured his expertise being put to good use. After all, Linde develops sustainable solutions for producing clean energy whilst reducing CO2 emissions – something that Camillo was well familiar with. And it wasn’t long before he got the chance to prove himself. During the first six months of his training, Camillo was part of a team working on making emission-free hydrogen from hydrocarbons. "Before, my knowledge was pretty limited to scientific research. But at Linde, I was able to see first-hand how business cases are made from new chemical processes – and how these are then converted into real projects." Hungry for knowledge and determined to take as much away from the experience as possible, Camillo’s inquisitive side shone through: "I flooded my colleagues with questions!" he says.

Although clean technology really fascinated him and was where he felt most ‘at home’, Camillo Falco did have to step outside of his comfort zone during the EGP. During the programme the graduates rotate through three different stages. This was something Camillo really valued: "It gave me the opportunity to get to know other areas of this large company." For his second rotation, he joined LiGaPro, a subsidiary of the Linde Group in Germany, which takes care of the operation side of gas production technology. This is where Camillo discovered his true calling: "Plant operation brings with it unexpected problems which have to be solved. That means new challenges every day." In fact, Camillo enjoyed it so much that he was to return to this area at a later date.

After two stations in Germany, Camillo’s final rotation led him back to Italy. He was placed in a cylinder filling plant in Arluno, near Milan, where he discovered a whole new side to Linde. He was exposed to the everyday logistical challenges that the business faces: "I really underestimated this before. Here, I was getting to see in detail how real operations are managed."

However, it isn’t just the project experience that Camillo looks back on so fondly. For him, the mentorship aspect was equally as valuable. Each trainee is accompanied by an experienced manager who remains their mentor for the duration of the program. "Linde is such a huge company that it can be a bit difficult to orientate yourself at the beginning," says Camillo, "I'm glad my mentor took the time to help me understand the whole thing." In fact, the two remain in touch to this day – and not just on a professional basis. Such was the nature of their working relationship that a friendship naturally followed: "We still meet these days. And we talk about everything, not just about work!"

The highlight of the programme? Well, for Camillo, that came at the end – once the 18 challenging months were behind him. And it came in the form of a grand, final presentation held jointly with 15 other graduates from all over Europe. In front of an audience of their mentors and leaders, the graduates collected their experiences under the motto "One Linde". They then shared these experiences through games, panel discussions and interactive lectures. "Our mentors and managers invested time, money and resources into us. It made me particularly proud to see how satisfied they were," recalls Camillo. 

Soon after completing the EGP, Camillo became a process engineer for Linde production facilities with LiGaPro and now lives with his wife and child in Munich. Having found a great sense of fulfilment in his professional life, he is confident that he made the right choice in starting the programme. On top of that, he has also been able to strike a work-life balance which leaves him time for his young family: "My two-year-old son consumes quite a lot of my energy," he says, laughing. 

Camillo continues to bring great ambition to the work he does. Among other things, he has developed a tool that Linde uses for predicting the energy consumption of air separation units: a perfect combination of his knowledge and his desire to see it in action. That, after all, is exactly the vision he set out with: "I am proud of my work every day because it has a real benefit."

From the lab to Linde: As chemistry graduate Camillo Falco was considering where to turn to for his next challenge, he came across Linde’s European Graduate Programme. Demanding months lay ahead of him; but so too did his dream job.