Our people 2020
At Serco, we have long recognised the value of investing in early years recruitment and development to find diverse new talent and bring fresh thinking and entrepreneurial energy into Serco. Today, you will find alumni from past early careers programmes leading and managing our business around the world.
Building on our knowledge and experience in this area, from mid-2019 through mid-2020 we launched our new award-winning Serco Graduate Programme in the UK and Australia and the Middle East, as well as our STEP internship programme in North America.
Leading our efforts in the UK is our first dedicated Early Careers Manager, Stacie Musgrove.
Stacie joined Serco in 2014 and supported our Serco Business Services and Justice & Immigration Business Units before moving into her current role in 2020, to focus on the early careers element in the UK talent strategy.
“Helping emerging talent to fulfil their potential is a passion of mine,” says Stacie. “Watching them flourish and mature into confident, capable professionals is a real privilege, as is knowing that we’re contributing to the evolution and enrichment of our leadership team.”
A key part of Stacie’s role is supporting our UK graduates from selection and onboarding through development and eventual progression into full time roles:
“We invest a lot of time in making sure they get the right training and support, gain the right experiences and make the right connections.”
Stacie also enjoys the infectious energy they bring into the organisation:
“They’re all full of ideas and just as driven and passionate about the programme as we are. They’re a constant source of inspiration to go the extra mile.”
Stacie is not the only one so inspired – the business has responded very positively:
“They’re making a difference and business leaders are taking notice. They can see the benefits of inviting young people with high potential into their corner of Serco and being the place where they cut their teeth and prove themselves, developing a strong, formative connection with the business in the process.”
Rising demand is promoting growth and opening new opportunities:
“Those who already have graduates can’t imagine not having them, and other parts of the business want in. At the same time, we’re continuously improving our understanding of how and where placements can be introduced.”
Highly engaged graduate placement managers are one of the keys to success:
“Our managers have been fantastic and consistently give us great feedback. We give them all the support they need. They respond by setting the graduates up to succeed and making sure they have real, meaningful placement roles to call their own.”
Covid-19 has created formidable challenges. A number of the second cohort have not yet met anyone in person, including each other. In managing all of this, Stacie has been careful not to overlook the development of informal connections:
“We’ve scheduled lots of informal virtual activity. It’s easy to take informal connections for granted, but they’re critical in many different ways. When people can’t bond naturally, we need to engineer the opportunity, or it may never happen.”
All the graduates have coped admirably:
“They’ve all taken it in their stride. Many in Cohort 2 were finishing their degrees in these circumstances – they’d already built some resilience around it by the time they joined us.”
Stacie and the team moved into 2020 with big plans to extend their reach and double their intake. Back in 2019, the graduate programme launched with a bespoke online assessment solution, from which 45 candidates were selected to attend an onsite assessment centre.
“It worked extremely well. For Cohort 2, we knew we were going to do more with the online element at the front end, but we weren’t expecting to have to take the whole end-to-end process online!”
With 4,500 applicants knocking on the door, there was little time to innovate. Switching to a virtual assessment centre was not without complexity, but by far the biggest challenge was rethinking the group exercise:
“Our applicants informed us that other companies simply cut the group exercise, but that was never an option for us. Much of the programme’s success is dependent on finding and selecting exactly the right people. Our selection process needs to be exceptional and the group exercise is integral to that. We were not prepared to compromise.”
An interactive ‘virtual escape room’ activity was developed as an online alternative and was very well received:
“Our applicants told us it was unlike anything else they’d done. It created a tremendous buzz – really bringing the whole event to life – and we brought into Serco 20 exceptional graduates who have already proven without a doubt that we did it right.”
Regardless of how and when the Covid-19 crisis resolves, Stacie isn’t planning to revert to traditional assessment centres:
“Virtual processes will continue moving into the mainstream; we expect virtual assessment centres to become the norm. There are obvious downsides to not being in the same room, but there are big benefits as well, including more revealing insights into personalities and behaviours.”
Going forward, Stacie and her team are looking at how they can further expand Serco’s early careers portfolio in line with business requirements – exploring government initiatives as well as other ‘home grown’ opportunities. Already, they are working with the UK Apprenticeships Team to apply best practice from the graduate programme to help scale up apprentice recruitment.
“There’s a lot more we can do,” says Stacie, “to help Serco become the go-to company for top talent and build new generations of public service leaders who share our Values and our passion for public service.”