Chloe - HR graduate

We had a chat with Chloe to find out her top tips for graduates, taking on roles she never knew existed, and how she uses her passion for Diversity and Inclusion at work

What is your role and what is your day to day like?

I’m a HR (Human Resources) graduate in BT’s Global business unit. I’m currently in a split role in my final rotation on the HR graduate scheme. Half of my role is to work with the European Union HR director on employee relation and HR engagement projects. This side of my role has allowed me to appreciate the complexities of European legislation, how much this impacts all the ongoing business transformation projects as well as using my French language skills. I’ve equally been able to lead on engagement projects for the EU HR team where I’ve been given a broad assignment of figuring out how we can improve engagement within the European HR team and broader European colleague base, which has allowed me to improve my knowledge of the challenges we face in different countries, as well as putting together an action plan for the team with their support.

The other half of my role is a sort of HR-marketing hybrid role, where I am working with brand ambassadors to create content to promote BT’s brand awareness across the globe and increase the diversity and volume of applications for our vacancies. To be honest, I never knew this type of role even existed beforehand … so to be given this opportunity to work on this completely exciting new project and being given the responsibility of implementing the branding strategy and building the Global brand ambassador piece from the ground up has been amazing. It’s also allowed me to experiment more, use my creativity and my strategic thinking skills which is incredibly refreshing and energising. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the lovely recruitment marketing team who have been incredibly welcoming and supportive so I’m very appreciative of all the experiences I’ve gained in this rotation. I can genuinely say it’s been fun, stimulating, and challenging. I’m also appreciative of the HR director for Europe and her wider team, as they’ve also been very welcoming and have provided me with some unique opportunities (which very few others get to experience) like attending French works council meetings.

What rotations have you completed on the graduate scheme?

I’m on the HR graduate scheme, which involves having three, eight-month rotations in different parts of HR. All my rotations have been in Global, but I’ve had three very different roles which has been great and allowed me to gain a breadth of experiences and have a good understanding of the different HR roles we have in BT. I started off in a more generalist role supporting a HR Business Partner, which involved a bit of everything including talent management, recruitment, and employee engagement to name a few examples. I then moved into the Learning Leadership and Talent team where I worked on Diversity and Inclusion projects, which involved developing and programme managing a mentoring scheme for women in Sales, as well as supporting the delivery of our pan BT race awareness training within Global. This role taught me a lot about the challenges of working in a global organisation where different countries we operate in have very different legislative requirements to the UK, and how even minor details like the language we use can have a big impact on how business project lands with our global audience. I’ve always been passionate about systemic, social issues: at university, I studied social and medical anthropology, specialising in fields like global health inequalities, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to work on projects relating to social issues at work which can have a positive social impact within the organisation.

My current role as I mentioned earlier is a split role with the European HR team as well as the talent acquisition and marketing team, so the graduate scheme has enabled me to get a broad understanding not just of HR, but of the wider business and the complexities of working in a global, matrix organisation.

What advice would you give to graduates thinking of joining BT?

I would say take the time to think about what you want to do as well as investing a significant amount of time into your applications. Graduate schemes tend to be very competitive so make sure to practice all elements of the application process. This includes psychometric tests (I spent many weeks practicing these before applying to BT), video interviews and assessment centres. What really helped me was having a working document of all the skills employers look for, common interview questions, and having several examples of how I could answer these questions. This meant that when I was going through video interviews where you only have 10 seconds to prepare your answer, I already had examples front of mind. Being able to give very specific answers as to why you want to apply and relate that to you personally can help you differentiate yourself from the other hundreds or thousands of other applicants for a given roles. Understanding BT’s values, strategy, ambitions, and culture can help you feel more confident when going through interviews as well as helping you tailor your answers in a way that demonstrate how your skills, experience and interests relate to the role you’re applying for at BT. I still remember my application experience with BT and how I related some of BT’s investment into innovative technology solutions for healthcare issues to some of my own research projects I conducted whilst at uni. BT’s purpose is ‘we connect for good’ so in addition to being able to demonstrate you have all the relevant skills for the role you’re applying for, I would think of how some of your experiences or interests relate to our purpose. Finally, we are trying to become more of a learning organisation, so being able to demonstrate that you have a ‘growth mindset’ and are always curious and looking to develop your skills is another plus.

How has BT supported your development and career growth?

I’ve been able to volunteer for a wide variety of projects, whether that’s getting involved in a people strategy refresh working group, leading on Global HR engagement project (and being a representative for Global HR in a pan BT engagement group) being an assessor for apprentice assessment centres… just to name a few. There’s such a wealth of opportunities and careers in BT, I think it’s just about having the right support in place and not being afraid to put your hand up. For me, it’s meant putting aside doubts about whether I’m ‘capable’ or ‘experienced’ enough to lead on certain projects, and as a result, I feel like I’ve expanded my knowledge, experience, and confidence massively. Having the right (growth) mindset, attitude, and confidence to put yourself out of your comfort zone, get involved in new projects and take on additional responsibilities makes all the difference.

I must say, I’ve equally been fortunate enough to have some fantastic support from colleagues at BT, whether that’s from my managers, HR directors I’ve worked with, or mentor and coaching figures… these people have all been crucial in opening new avenues and opportunities for me. BT also has many tools and platforms available to employees like thousands of online courses via LinkedIn Learning, endless knowledge calls and the opportunity to mentor via Fast Futures’ mentoring programme so I’ve tried to take advantage of all these opportunities throughout my graduate scheme.

How has BT supported your wellbeing?

Through its caring and supportive culture. I’ve found my managers and other colleagues I’ve worked with big advocates of people doing what’s best for them…which of course means different things for everyone. For some, this means leaving work early or not working during certain times of the day so they can take care of their kids. For others, like myself, this means going for a walk or being able to attend a medical appointment during the day, as well as shifting my working hours depending on who I’m working with and where in the world they are based. The trusting culture here at BT was another pleasant surprise which I didn’t expect as a junior employee. If I get my work done (and do it to a high standard), it doesn’t matter to my managers exactly how, when, and where I’m getting it done. As any good manager should be, my managers are focused on the outcomes and my wellbeing, and they trust and support me to do the right thing… both for me and the business.

Now that you’re coming towards the end of your graduate scheme, what’s next for you?

I don’t know exactly yet, but I will likely continue working on the brand strategy and employee advocacy project which is incredibly exciting. Feeling like the work I do is genuinely adding value to the business, as well as contributing to our strategic aims of becoming a more diverse and inclusive organisation is really fulfilling.

The great thing with BT is there are so many opportunities, that I know whatever I end up doing next, I’ll always have the opportunity to get involved in different projects and gain new experiences.

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