Starting a new job during the COVID-19 pandemic


When Najma Samsodien applied to become an Application Specialist at Siemens Healthineers in South Africa, she did not know how different her onboarding experience would be. The former cardiac cath lab radiographer was excited about this new opportunity to apply her clinical knowledge to the training of medical staff. While the initial steps of the process went smoothly, from the interview to her acceptance of the offer, Najma slowly began to feel the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic on her personal situation. “The cases grew significantly within some weeks and in March 2020 a 3-week national lockdown was announced,” Najma remembers. “Since my new role is all about being with our customers and training them on our systems, I was worried about how to manage this situation.” Moreover, Najma had never met her new team or seen her new work environment. How would she be able to receive all the information she needed? How could she introduce herself to the group as a contributing team member?

Najma prepares to visit a customer site as Application Specialist.
Najma prepares to visit a customer site as Application Specialist.

Although a virtual interaction might never be as effective as an in-person exchange, Najma realized over the weeks to come that she can actually manage a lot digitally and still have a great interpersonal experience. “My team welcomed me immediately and introduced themselves, I received phone calls and emails initially, and when I officially joined, we had virtual coffee meetings to get to know one another, and we now have them weekly. Also, my Onboarding Buddy and my Manager would schedule introductory meetings with other key role players like the engineers, product specialists and sales teams, and they would subsequently invite me to their meetings to get to know how things run on the equipment side, etc.”

Key ingredients of the onboarding experience at Siemens Healthineers are the “Onboarding Buddy” Najma referred to above, as well as an “Onboarding Passport” that gives new colleagues some guidance. The hiring manager picks the buddy, who is an experienced employee of the same team or department and who will partner with the new hire for the first few months until the new colleague feels settled in as part of the team. The onboarding passport acts as a roadmap for the first 100 days and outlines action items that help the new hires with their onboarding.

Najma was asked to prepare a short bio with video, and pictures, which she shared with her colleagues to say Hi. She received a Siemens Healthineers Welcome box with some goodies to ease her start. ”I was especially touched by the welcome video message of our CEO and the engagement of all the different colleagues who supported my onboarding period.” Her recruiter, Melissa Rambally, was one of them: “I am happy that we were able to adapt quickly to the new circumstances, getting Najma’s technical equipment ready in time so she could start working in home office and support her to connect to the people.” Melissa also invited her to participate in a virtual HR and Services induction, another measure which had to be adapted to the challenging times of a global pandemic. “There were lots of speakers, lots of information, but basically a representative from each sector that just gave us a short breakdown and how they fit into the organisation, and where we fit in. It gave perspective and helped a lot,” Najma summarizes.

At first, she kept working virtually, taking online learning classes, developing her role in applications, and planning projects. She provided phone and online support to our local customers right out of her home office. But just a few weeks later, the time had come for her to join her colleagues on site in the hospital to gain hands-on experience. Of course, during a global pandemic, this requires a strict protocol and additional measures for protecting herself and others, but Najma is excited to be able to help.
She has already shown one of the essential qualities we all need during such unique and challenging times: to be early adopters who can make the best out of a challenging situation.


Like Najma, many new colleagues worldwide are starting their journey at Siemens Healthineers during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. And while this situation will certainly result in a wide variety of onboarding experiences, it will also make our new colleagues even more excited to help shape the future of healthcare.