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Victoria Buckenham discusses the new Graduate Scheme

Category: Employer Focus, graduate scheme, RWE Power

Victoria Buckenham discusses the new Graduate Scheme

You were bought into RWE npower to work on updating the graduate scheme –why was that?

In my previous role at Eversheds LLP, I’d owned the Trainee (Graduate) programme. This influenced npower’s choice to bring me in in October 2012 as they wanted someone with experience from a different sector who could look at the Graduate programme with fresh eyes and make sure it was future focused and in line with its competitors. 

When you arrived at npower, what kind of things were you doing?

I spent my first three months just talking to everyone! From the grads all the way to the senior Exec, I wanted to understand how the scheme functioned, what people liked about it and what they weren't so keen on. 

Then I went away and, based on all the feedback I’d received, I created a new, clearer strategy for the programme which I presented to the executive committee – made up of the most senior directors at npower. 

And what were the changes you put forward in this new strategy?

I changed from the old system of specific paths to one that was more bespoke to each graduate so they could move about within the company more flexibly. We made learning mandatory, tightened it up, assessed how it was done and introduced ‘action learning’– whereby graduates are held accountable for their learning by demonstrating what they've learnt in their ‘day jobs’. 

Ultimately, it came down to each grad being more accountable for their learning journey and careers – which would result in a high quality experience. 

How’s it working so far?

We started to introduce the changes straight away, but the full launch will be in September this year. It’s a reflection of how our grads are impressing people across the business – they are in high demand now! They've really demonstrated their value and many different teams are actively asking for our grad schemers to be placed with them. 

Our 2013 Graduates have really stepped up and impressed everyone in the business; they've recognised the changes we've made and they've been able to provide important input. The best thing of all is that they’re adding value – just one example is that a small amount of Graduates worked on our most high profile strategic programme (the ‘Customer Transformation Programme’) and in just 6 months they saved over £1 million. I loved telling the Executive about that!

What’s going to happen for the new intake of graduates in 2014?

The new Grads will a join a very engaged population of graduates, who’ve really been making the best of the opportunities available, of which there are loads! Our CEO, Paul Massara, has even been asking directly for our best and brightest Grads to work with him on strategic projects.

What’s your advice for graduates coming into npower and for those looking to apply for the graduate scheme in the future?

If you’re motivated, engaged and open to learn, you’ll have a fantastic experience. We are competing with – and beating – the other ‘big six’ energy companies with one of the best graduate schemes around. This is reflected by the fact we recently won at the AGR Graduate Development Awards, which is an incredible achievement for us seeing as we only re-designed our programme recently. 

Many other companies are reducing their graduate scheme opportunities but we are not and will not – we’re fully committed.  If you join us and give your all to the programme, we have no doubt that you’ll have an exciting career with us where we’ll watch you go from strength to strength. 

Each graduate is treated as an individual – not just one of hundreds. We have, on average, 25-30 people in each intake and each will have their own personal journey, with their own mentor, sponsor (and me!) to support them. They are each given openings to find opportunities; if they have particular areas of interest, all they need to do is make a connection and they can get there. In the end, it really comes down to how proactive they are. 

Any final words?

I'm very much looking forward to working with the 2014 graduates – I can’t wait to see what they achieve and how they benefit RWE npower! 

Are you interested in a career with RWE npower? Click here to apply for vacancies.

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