Evolve is a Digital-led career development programme that was introduced this year, allowing colleagues from all angles of the business to develop and explore a new career path in the Digital space. The programme focuses on an individual’s drive, attitude and personality over experience, to provide pathways into Digital roles where on-the-job learning is key. All BT, EE and Plusnet colleagues are eligible and new pathways are set to be released in the new year. We caught up with Alistair McKay and Lucy Ward whose journeys into the Evolve programme provide refreshing contrast.

What role were you in before Evolve and how different is that to what you’re doing now?

Alistair:

I worked part time for EE Retail for almost 3 years while doing my masters and undergraduate degree. Now I’m a Product Owner on Agent.com which is about as different as it gets. 

Lucy:

I was working in Strategy and Planning in Internal Communications. There are a few similarities between that and the Scrum Master role I’m now doing – facilitating meetings, planning and project management - however, I am now doing these things in a completely new and agile way! My previous role felt quite far removed from our customers and so it’s brilliant to now work directly on customer products. I love working as part of an empowered and autonomous squad.

What made you decide to apply to the Evolve programme?

Alistair:

I was at the tail end of my master’s degree and in the process of applying for Grad jobs. I had been knocked back from so many applications as Grad jobs seemed to be the first type of recruitment to get pulled when the pandemic hit. I was close to admitting defeat as I didn’t quite have the necessary experience needed for a lot of the jobs on the market, and thought I’d need to wait for next year’s Grad jobs to become available. That’s when Evolve appeared to save the day!

Lucy:

I was looking for a change; a new challenge and the opportunity to learn. I wasn’t exactly sure what that change was and I hadn’t considered Digital as an option. Without Digital experience, I didn’t think it was a move that I would ever be able to make.

When I spotted Evolve, a number of things stood out to me; the refreshing approach to recruitment which made me want to work for a team doing things in new ways. The Scrum Master role itself and the opportunity to learn and get all of the training needed to move into the job. And finally, the chance to join a growing team that is fundamental to the future of BT. 

How did the selection process work?

Alistair:

The process was the most unique recruitment process I’d experienced. We first had to make a video answering some questions laid out in the application. I played it quite safe with mine, just speaking to the camera about the ideas I had, although after speaking to some other applicants, it seems there were some really creative videos made. I think it’s great that the application process really let people unleash their creativity! Following that I had an interview on Microsoft Teams where I started by presented answers in response to a scenario I was given - again, I was encouraged to be creative. The interview itself was also different to what I was expecting; the interviewer didn’t have my CV in front of her to gill me about my experience, instead I found it to be a really friendly conversation where I was free to discuss me, rather than my qualifications. The final interview with my new Tribe leader was again very casual. We discussed what I’d learnt at university, how I could apply that to the job along with my internal experience with EE and why I’m interested in the job. The whole selection process was so refreshing. I always felt like people were looking to find out about me and what drives me, rather than focusing on my experience, or lack of! 

How did you make up for your lack of experience in your application and how was this received?

Lucy:

From all of the information on Workplace (BT’s internal social platform), I knew that the team were looking for the right mindset, personality and the will to learn, over experience. I therefore didn’t think too much about what experience I was lacking. I was more focused on being myself, showing my enthusiasm, my willingness to learn, sharing ideas and giving examples of how I could apply my experience to the role.

It must be quite daunting starting a completely different role whilst working from home. How have you been supported to allow you to get up to speed with everything?

Alistair:

It was really daunting - working with a team you’ve never met on a job you’ve never done before is quite scary! My Tribe has been fantastic though, I was given time to chat to each member individually to introduce myself and get to know them. There’s also so much support available, if I’m struggling with anything or have questions, there’s always someone who will take time to have a chat with me and explain anything. I have frequent calls with my direct colleagues where I’m taught everything I need to know and I’m never completely thrown into the deep end. I always have so much support around to ensure I can do the job to the best of my ability.

Lucy:

From the very beginning the team have been so welcoming – giving time to answer questions, providing a really good onboarding experience and running team events to get to know each other. The nature of agile working and the culture in the Digital team is welcoming, inclusive, open and fun which has made joining while working from home as enjoyable as possible! 

Why do you think it’s important to have opportunities within a company, like Evolve, that allow you to change your career path?

Alistair:

I think it’s so important for programmes like Evolve to exist, it allows companies to harness their hidden potential in their employees from all across the organisation, and shows employees the variety of roles that they may not have known existed. Coming from Retail, I know that there are plenty of students in our stores who are fantastic, forward thinking and have the future skills that BT are looking for, however most - like I did - will think that their lack of experience, means it’ll be incredibly difficult to get the role or career they want. Evolve recruits based on you, your passion and the drive you have to develop yourself, not your past experience.

Lucy:

Large companies like BT have brilliant and talented people working for them who have loads of potential to work on something new, they just need the chance to do it. By providing opportunities like Evolve, companies are able to retain the skills, experience and knowledge of the business and provide development, learning and growth to those individuals. I think that people who make the change can bring so much to a new role - different perspectives, new ideas, passion, drive and loyalty. I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity and to me, it shows that BT are committed to nurturing and keeping hold of talent. 

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