· 2 min read · Features

Graduate scheme brings a fresh outlook to B&CE

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B&CE Benefits Schemes launched a two-year graduate management programme (GMP) in November 2008, designed to bring a fresh outlook to the organisation by fast-tracking an innovative new wave of managers. Six months on, deputy chief executive John Jory gives an update on its progress

Recruitment to the programme was open to internal and external candidates via an intensive assessment centre process and the first two candidates selected were from the existing workforce. Mabel Pillay and Jody Mitchell were appointed to new roles as strategic research analysts, having previously worked in customer services.

The programme of development consists of rotational placements within the various departments of B&CE. It provides recruits with the opportunity to familiarise themselves with all areas of the business and to showcase their talents and abilities. This ultimately enables them to decide where they want to specialise.

Mabel and Jody are gaining first-hand experience in each department and receiving specific management training to prepare them for their future roles. They are learning through on-the-job development and formal training while they network and build contacts across the industry. They are also supported in the pursuit of a professional qualification and can select a mentor from the business to help them.

The agreed period within each department is three months, but this varies according to business need. For example, Mabel has spent her first six months with B&CE's sales and marketing team, where she has been focusing on research into the company's work with federations; reviewing CRM solution providers; PEST and SWOT analyses on B&CE's employee healthcare product; competitor analysis and technical assistance in the production of B&CE's response to the introduction of personal accounts.

She says: "I had an excellent learning experience during my first placement within the sales and marketing department. I now have a better understanding of B&CE's market and customer needs and learnt that marketing should be involved, and there should be a meeting of the minds across the business, whenever decisions are made.

"It was great to work with all the managers within the department on various projects. I was not just another member of staff but felt a valued and important team member whose contributions and ideas really counted."

Mabel and Jody report directly to HR but also have placement line managers for the duration of their attachment to each business area. These are responsible for allocating day-to-day work, setting objectives, provision of on-the-job training/coaching and completion of an exit performance review. The placement line manager assigns projects and tasks to the graduates to ensure the placement stretches them.

Jody began her programme working in risk and finance departments looking into the procurement of a new risk management system; a customer services audit; upselling analysis; and proposing a business case for a new accounts system for the business. She has now moved on to project support and is working on creating project initiation documents (PIDs) and project briefs.

She says: "In the past five months I have worked within the risk, finance and projects departments. Being given a virtual ‘access all areas' pass to information, people and processes has ensured I know so much more about what makes the company and the people tick than when I worked in operations. I have learnt a lot in a short period of time and love the fact that I never know exactly what my next challenge will be."

At the end of the programme, Mabel and Jody will be ready for their first leadership position in the business and in mid-2010 will consider where they wish to be placed.