A Year in the Life

The Saab Graduate Leadership Program has provided the platform for the best year of my life. Being in SGLP has provided so many amazing experiences and opportunities that I never would've imagined a job could bring me! I have traveled to multiple different cities and countries, met incredible people, and have learned so much about Saab as a company and many of our world-class products.

I've been thinking a lot about what I should write my blog post on and I decided that instead of focusing on one rotation or team week, I thought I'd share some insight into what my year has been like. My name is Rachel Klink and I am from Syracuse, New York. I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Rochester and started my career at Saab as an Integration & Test Engineer in June 2016 (one year prior to joining SGLP). Upon completion of this program in October I will return back to my home office, Saab Defense and Security (SDAS) in Syracuse to be a Program Manager for Naval radars.

Over the course of the last year I have traveled to 2 offices in Australia, 6 different offices in Sweden, 2 in the US (not including my own), and a trade show in Bulgaria! Outside of time spent in my own office on various tasks and programs, my schedule has been pretty hectic. It has included:

  • 2 weeks in Sweden in October (team week in Nyköping, Stockholm, and Karlskrona),
  • 2 weeks in Sweden in January/February (team week visiting Saab HQ (formerly in Alvik), Järfälla, Linköping, Malmö, and Gothenburg),
  • 5 weeks in the Adelaide Australia office learning about the 9LV Combat Management System,
  • 1 week in the Canberra Market Area office,
  • 1 team week in the US (Saab Sensor Systems (Syracuse office within SDAS USA), Saab Sensis, and the MA office in Washington DC),
  • 3 weeks in Linköping working with Marketing and Sales (1 week was actually spent in Bulgaria at an exhibition),
  • 2 weeks in Linköping working with the Program Management team on the South Africa Gripen contract,
  • 7 weeks in Järfalla working with the Counter Measure Dispenser Systems team within Electronic Warfare (I am currently in the middle of this rotation),
  • 1 week in Järfälla working with C2S focusing on CEROS (upcoming 1st week in October), and
  • 1 final team week in Stockholm and Karlskoga (upcoming 2nd week in October)

If it seems like I have traveled a lot this year you would be right- I have only spent 12 weeks at home in 2018 and am in Sweden until mid-October... and I wouldn't change that at all! Throughout the SGLP program all of the graduates have their own schedules determined in collaboration with their managers. All of the other graduates in SGLP17-18 have been working in different offices and on different tasks, but their schedules are similarly crazy. The only time that all 9 of us are together are for the team weeks, however, throughout the year we have multiple projects and tasks to work on. This means that the work ends up getting done from multiple continents and time zones.

My rotations were strategically planned with not only my manager, but also Saab Sensor Systems (S3) General Manager and SDAS USA CEO. We aligned my rotations with product areas that we would like to learn more about and hopefully work more with. The S3 strategy for the next few years is really focused around taking advantage of the global Saab portfolio and our position in the US market. We have had great success with bringing the SeaGiraffe radar into the US and would love to do the same with 9LV, CEROS, and CMDS products. During my rotations I have focused on learning about the products, as well as bringing awareness to our operations in Syracuse and creating an amazing network of people that we can work with to help drive that technology transfer.

During the team weeks we focus on learning about Saab globally including (but not limited to) offices, products, ways of working, focus areas, security, strategy, leadership criteria and techniques, presentation techniques, and so much more. The projects and tasks that get assigned teach us how to plan, strategize, work as a group, collaborate even when you're apart, and to better understand working with a diverse group. Since I am the only international graduate this year, I think I have been able to really dig into the Swedish culture and ways of working while shedding light on the differences in American culture. Through it all I think we've learned that no matter what communication, transparency, and humility are key!

Hectic is one way to describe this year, but it has been a whirlwind full of learning and priceless opportunities. It has been indescribably fun and exciting! I can't believe this program comes to an end in just a few weeks! It truly is bittersweet to think about. I am sad that the program is over, however, I am excited to see what is next for me and to watch the new graduates get ready for the best year of their lives.


PS- Thank you to everyone who has made this year happen! Thank you to all of the countless people that have made my rotations so unique and amazing, to SDAS for believing in me and allowing me to participate in this program, to Jennie- our fearless advisor, to my amazing SGLP group for their support and our countless memories, and to my manager Doug for always putting up with my antics no matter what time zone I'm in!


Taken at the Linköping Flight Club. One of my Saab coworkers in Linköping was taking flying lessons through a Saab sponsored course and I was able to fly with him.


These were taken at the HEMUS Exhibition in Bulgaria where we were marketing Gripen, Carl Gustaf, and Deployable Aircraft Maintenance centers.


A group of Saab Australia employees with myself and Yasmin (also SGLP) on the right. Taken at a military base in Australia in front of one of their Land Giraffes.


Feeding a Kangaroo in Adelaide, Australia.


SGLP 2017-18 group visiting Niagara Falls


Performing production testing on the Electronic Warfare products: BOL in Järfälla, Sweden.


Celebrating Midsummer with Yasmin in Stockholm, Sweden.