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The TOP START International Business Leader Program

Accelerated career development for top talent.

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With the TOP START International Business Leader Program we offer a unique opportunity for the best graduates from all around the world. Experience BASF from different perspectives and different regions while working on international, mission-critical projects. This program will bring you out of your comfort zone letting you grow as a leader every day. You will maximize your potential and develop yourself into a pole position for a successful general management career. We only offer this program to a very few exceptional talents per year.

We are looking for exceptional business graduates and young professionals with a global mindset and proven leadership potential.

As candidate for the TOP START International Business Leader Program you have a degree in the field of business/economics (Master, Ph.D., or MBA, with no more than three years of work experience). Ideally, you come from an international, top ranked business school where you have demonstrated your strong academic performance with excellent grades.

You have gained first practical experience, e.g. in demanding internships at top employers and bring a true global mindset, developed through international experiences, not only during your studies but also in practical applications. You are fluent in English and in at least one other language (more languages are a plus). We highly value your social commitment since this is part of our company culture.

Our BASF CORE values resonate to you and your idea of leadership. You have outstanding communication skills, a well-developed empathy for others and a strong sense for collaboration. Furthermore, if you are curious, flexible, solution-focused and happy to deal with change – then you should apply for this unique career opportunity!

This program is your jump-start into a successful general management career. The three-year program involves 3 rotations with at least one of those being international. We hire top talent to take on responsibility, making an impact from day one while driving mission-critical projects with high energy. The opportunities are countless and be it the location of the international assignment, the industry, function, or a particular project – you have a say in all aspects of your development.


Our structured program approach will maximize your potential to become a future leader. You will learn and grow in an inspiring environment with BASF’s strong international community and bring your unique ideas into an environment that values different perspectives and provides you with open feedback. In regular workshops with your TOP START peers, you will learn from top coaches how to master the latest sought-after executive skills. A personal relationship with a senior executive mentor will support your individual development path even beyond the rotational program. Furthermore, as part of a strong community you will benefit from the TOP START alumni network and connect with like-minded leaders positioned all around the globe..


We asked our TOP START participants and alumni what they like most about the program. Here's what you can look forward to with this program:


The Recruiting Process - Overview


There are two ways to apply for the TOP START International Business Leader program:

Option 1: Apply to the Future Leaders Summit.

Option 2: Apply directly to the program without attending the Future Leaders Summit.

While it is always possible to apply directly to the program, we highly recommend attending the Future Leaders Summit. It offers a unique chance to get to know BASF in depth, meet our senior managemnet up to board level and exchange with the existing TOP START community. 


First Matching

A dedicated TOP START recruiter reviews your resume and supporting documents thoroughly and objectively based on the program criteria. You will get our first feedback from our Recruiting Center within five business days.


Online Assessment

In case your profile matches our program criteria, we will invite you to an online assessment. This 90-minute test evaluates your leadership potential along various personality traits as well as verbal and cognitive skills. Your results are benchmarked against the best candidates in their fields. After completion of the test, you will receive an individual feedback report with your strengths and development needs.


Telephone Interview*

In a personal telephone interview, our TOP START recruiter will ask you about your interest and motivation for joining BASF and the program. You will have the opportunity to exchange with us about your career goals, general experiences, and skills. In addition, we invite you to ask any questions you may have.

*This step might be omitted when applying to the Future Leaders Summit.


Video Interview

This is your Get to Know with the Senior Manager of the TOP START Program who is curious to learn more about you as a person and why you are the right candidate for this unique opportunity. In this conversation, we will already start making a draft of your career in BASF. And again, we will make sure that you will have enough time to ask your questions about the program and our company.


Optional: Future Leaders Summit

If you applied to the Future Leaders Summit and successfully completed all previous steps, you will be invited to join the event. The summit offers an exceptional chance to get to know BASF in depth, meet our senior management up to board level and exchange with the existing TOP START community.


Interview Day

On this day, you will meet 6-8 conversation partners, including a BASF Board Member and other members of our senior leadership team. You’ll have the chance to show your understanding of the bigger picture ability to take a broader perspective but also to discuss brave ideas to tackle current and future challenges of global business. In case you attend the Future Leaders Summit, the interview day will be incorporated in the event. Within two days, you will get your final feedback from the Senior Manager of the TOP START Program personally.


Final Offer

After successfully completing the interview day, we will get in touch to discuss the contract details with you and elaborate further ideas on how to allow you to get off to the best possible start into your accelerated career track with BASF.

The Future Leaders Summit 2022 will be held virtually from March 28th til March 30th


The Future Leaders Summit is our exclusive corporate event for students interested in the TOP START International Business Leader Program. 

The event provides the opportunity to get to know BASF comprehensively and to show your motivation and skills to join our exclusive three-year management trainee program TOP START International Business Leader.



During the event you will:

  • Deepdive into the world of BASF alongside peers from all around the world
  • Connect with TOP START participants and alumni, diverse BASF employees and Members of the Board
  • Work on challenging case studies and group tasks
  • Showcase your talents to senior management
  • Explore the many career paths BASF has to offer



And most importantly 

  • You will have the exciting chance to be selected for our TOP START International Business Leader Program

How do I apply? Which documents are required?

Please use our online application form and attach your motivation letter, CV (please add your final/current average grade in your CV), high school diploma, Bachelor's degree with grades, Master's degree with grades or current transcript of grades, work references (letter or person of contact), GMAT Test Score (if available), and certificates.


What is the maximum file size I can upload?

Files such as scanned certificates must be no larger than 5MB each. Please try to use pdf formats.


In which language do I have to apply?

English is the preferred language, but applications in German are also accepted.


What is the privacy policy regarding the online application system?

All data provided to BASF is handled strictly in accordance with German data protection legislation. HR details, including candidate information obtained via our online application system, are treated in the strictest confidence and are used exclusively for application purposes.


Is the Future Leaders Summit a mandatory part of the TOP START recruiting process?

No, the Future Leaders Summit is an exclusive corporate event offered by BASF to talented students and young professionals. It provides the opportunity to get to know BASF in depth, with FAQ sessions, presentations, site tours and much more. Various social formats will allow you to connect with TOP START participants and alumni as well as members of the Board. Finally, you have the chance to showcase your skills to our senior management and get selected for the TOP START program. The interview day as the final step to be selected for the program will be incorporated in the event. To get an inspiration, feel free to read our reports on the 2019 Summit.


How long does the recruiting process take from application to the final feedback?

The end-to-end recruiting process takes on average 3 to 4 months.


When will I receive feedback after the final interview day?

You will usually get feedback within few days after your final interviews. If you attend the Future Leaders Summit, the interview day will be incorporated into the Summit and you will receive feedback at the end of the event.


Can I apply for both, the Future Leaders Summit and the Program in parallel?

Please only apply to either one of the two. If you wish to attend the Future Leaders Summit, please apply for the event. If you do not wish to attend the Future Leaders Summit, apply directly for the program.


Is there a fixed date upon which I have to start my first rotation?

The TOP START program offers you the flexibility to start all year round, there are no fixed entry dates.


When is the application deadline for the TOP START program?

You can apply to the TOP START program all year round, we only have a deadline for applying to the Future Leaders Summit. However, we recommend applying at least 4 months prior to the preferred entry date to have sufficient time to complete the recruiting process. Some of our TOP START participants have also highlighted that applying more than 4 months prior to the preferred entry date is recommended. It offers you the possibility to sign your contract early and write your master thesis or to travel after graduation without worrying about job applications. The deadline for the Future Leaders Summit depends on the date of the event which is usually in the first half of the year. The date will be communicated on the respective website well in advance.


I do not have a business background. Can I still apply for the program?

While we are primarily looking for candidates with a business background, we are also open to interesting profiles that are seeking lateral moves into the field of business management.