Seán O'Boyle, HR Associate, Glanbia
Why did you choose Glanbia?
I had a good understanding of what Glanbia was about, their strong roots in working with farmers, co-ops and creameries, and that's something I have a connection with coming from a small farming background. I felt initially I was very aligned with what they were offering and they had exactly what I was looking for. My initial interaction with the graduate team came through the career events at the likes of NUIG and also my initial understanding of the Glanbia graduate web page. I was looking for a two year rotation programme which gave me a broad understanding of the different areas of human resources, and that's exactly what Glanbia were offering.
How did the programme help you develop?
The first area where I was able to look and have an idea of where I could develop was managing numerous stakeholders' expectations. In college you really only have yourself to look after in getting the grades you want but moving into Glanbia you're given a lot of opportunities to work with different teams. At the same time though, you have a lot of different workloads. So it's about managing those expectations because everyone's work is important but you would have to have that communication with them, obviously telling them you have a number of different priorities and only a certain amount of hours in the day. For me then it would be about managing my own expectations. Millennials are drawn as people who are going to change the world and know everything coming into the company. From college you get that feeling of if you don't know the problem it's about going off yourself, finding the answer, reading as much literature as you have to, getting those instant gratification results. In the world of work at times you're not actually going to know the answer and at times there may not even be an answer so you have to go about that process of learning, trying to find out if you can actually solve the problem and accepting if you can't.
What skills did you learn through the programme?
The graduate programme offers you a series of different skills to learn. Presentation skills was something I found very beneficial because in my role I have numerous meetings and inductions, so I need to know how to speak in a manner that's clear. Getting a basic understanding of Excel was brilliant also.
How does the programme promote innovation and creativity?
Glanbia understands that innovation is crucial to our success and they understand the graduates and associates are going to be key to that success in the future by coming up with those innovative ideas. The graduate programme empowers graduates to think innovatively and come up with solutions. They've brought in Spark which is a design thinking experience, a two and a half day event for graduates. Senior business leaders from around the company and from the U.S. and Ireland present real life problems to us and ask us to solve them. We then come together as graduates in a team, try to understand the problem, dismantle it and come up with a solution. Then we present those solutions back to the senior leaders. I was lucky enough to be on one of the teams that presented to Siobhan Talbot, our managing director.
What are the benefits of Spark?
The three main benefits I found were innovation, focussing on the user experience and working in a diverse team. For us to think outside the box and not accept the norm was beneficial. Most events were you come together with graduates in a social perspective are mainly based on training individuals. What this programme offered was the chance to work as a team. I was in a team with a food scientist, an agri-business manager and an engineer – you really wouldn't have that opportunity ever in my role.
What advice would you give a student considering this career?
Firstly, undertake a work placement or summer internship. Secondly, talk, learn, read and get more information on the graduate programme. Talk to career development centres, a great free resource for students.
How did the programme help you settle into the workplace?
It gave me a thorough introduction to the organisation, meeting senior leaders in my first couple of days at work. They have an awful lot of training put in place for you to get up to speed quickly if you feel your skills aren't good enough. I've had the opportunity to have coaching over four or five weeks, which has helped me think about where I am now, identify where I need to develop, where do I see myself in two or three years in the company, and even simpler things like my work/life balance.