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From graduate to innovation manager

Serco Middle East launched its first graduate programme in 2020 and has successfully onboarded a number of new recruits.  Ramy Hakim, one of the graduates in the first cohort, is now the first graduate to be promoted into a full-time permanent role within the Middle East division. During his two years in the graduate programme, he gained hands-on experience and in-depth knowledge from different areas of the business including bidding and solutions, an airport contract and Serco’s in-house user-centered design agency, ExperienceLab.

After careful consideration, he expressed that his interests and career aspirations leaned mostly towards enhancing customer experience, which made ExperienceLab the perfect fit for him. He has now been promoted to Innovation Manager for ExperienceLab Middle East. Ramy shares his experience and gives words of advice to recent graduates who are looking to get the right start in their careers:

How would you describe your experience in the Serco Middle East Graduate Programme?

Throughout the graduate programme, I was exposed to various business sectors and functions. The programme provided me with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with several business functions such as bidding, UX, operations and so on. This experience was crucial in shaping my future career path and identifying my interests, strengths and development areas.

What was your favorite part of the programme?

Taking a leading role in Serco's Innovation Sprint was the most exciting part of the programme. Serco launched its ‘innovation sprint’ during my third placement in the graduate program, with the goal of driving positive cultural change and developing new business concepts. During this time, I was in charge of delivering automation and business intelligence prototypes as well as lead on workforce upskilling initiatives.

What is something that you gained in the programme that you think is invaluable and will help you throughout your future?

The most important lesson I learned from the programme is that you never know enough. The programme helped me develop a mindset of curiosity and continuous development.

It will be critical in my future for me to continue self-reflecting and identifying gaps in my knowledge and skills with the aim to bridge these gaps.

If you could do the graduate programme over again is there anything you would do differently?

I remember being slightly intimidated during the early stages of the graduate programme due to my lack of work experience; as a result, I avoided asking questions at the risk of sounding incapable. Looking back, I would take advantage of any opportunity to ask questions because it was a golden opportunity to gain more knowledge and increase my capability.

What were the top 3 things that helped you progress in your career at Serco?

  1. Direct mentorship from Serco colleagues
  2. Completing online technical and soft skills trainings to bridge gaps in capability
  3. Delivering challenging work outside my comfort zone

What do you currently do in your role as Innovation Manager?

As the Innovation Manager, I am responsible for shaping the business culture and processes to enable an agile workforce that can continue to add value to the services we provide. I oversee several programmes that aim to identify and upskill colleagues:

  1. Data Champions
  2. CX Champions
  3. Automation Champions
  4. Power Apps Champions

In addition, I use research and design-thinking methodologies across a variety of environments (both digital and physical services) to help translate business challenges into desired outcomes for clients.

ExperienceLab has a variety of projects going on. What are you most excited about in your work? Which project do you feel the most passionate about?

I am most excited about delivering ExperienceLab’s new CX measurement proposition. This solution is a reoccurring requirement from clients and we are currently delivering it in a residential contract. This will surely be a good case study and learning experience.

As someone who is just at the beginning of their career, what do you hope to achieve – both short-term (1-3 years) and long-term (10+ years)?

My short-term goal in my career is to:

  1. Enable a culture of innovation where employees are empowered with the right tools and mindset to transform the way we deliver services.

  2. Deliver new technology enabled solutions to our clients that address client needs.

My long-term ambition is to lead a team of product developers and user-experience designers. The team's goal would be to effectively address client needs by delivering products and solutions based on design methodologies.

What advice would you give to new graduates? How can they ensure that they best prepare themselves for their future, career-wise?

I would advise new graduates to take advantage of every opportunity to ask questions and become involved in various functions. The two-year graduate programme is a critical period that will shape their future career. Take advantage of this opportunity to discover what you are passionate about, what you are skilled in and what you enjoy doing.