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Graduate networking driving change at British Gypsum

With the end of exams and graduation day finally on the horizon, many university leavers will be preparing to take the big leap into the world of work.

In the second instalment of this two-part blog, we hear from Sophia Palamianaki, Graduate Project Specification Manager at our Head Office in East Leake, as she gives the low-down on a company-wide initiative being spearheaded by a group of recent recruits.

After the relative freedom of student life, taking those first steps into employment can be a daunting prospect – but with the right support, the beginning of your new career can be an exciting and rewarding time. For me personally, joining Saint-Gobain has been a fantastic introduction to the working environment, as the company has a strong culture of helping employees reach their full potential.

This has certainly been the case for the graduate initiative I’m involved with. Founded in 2015, this informal partnership was started by a group of graduate recruits as a way of building our professional networks and furthering ourselves within the business. While it’s still quite a new initiative, we have achieved a great deal in these short years, which is testament to the support and welcoming reception we’ve received from British Gypsum and Saint-Gobain as a whole. 

We currently have about 30 active members and our numbers are growing all the time. The main goal is to develop our skills, learn from each other and hopefully inspire others in the process. Besides this more serious aspect of the group, we also organise social events outside of work, which is a great way to make new friends – particularly for people like me, who have relocated to take up their graduate positions.

We focus on three main areas of activity: the first is developing our network. This was the driving force behind the group’s creation and is still our biggest priority. By sharing our experiences and learning, we’re building a rich bank of mentors across the company so that our members always have someone they can reach out to – essentially it’s creating an open door into every department.

The second area is supporting company activity, which can be anything from taking part in charity events, to representing British Gypsum at university recruitment fairs. Each month a member of the group also participates in a senior management meeting, to share our perspectives on company-wide initiatives and issues. This is a huge achievement for us, as it shows that the management team values our views and the contribution we can make. It also gives our members experience of high-level management processes.

Our final area of focus is development. British Gypsum is such a big company, with so many disciplines and departments, that understanding how it all fits together can be challenging. To overcome this, we organise training events where our members make presentations about their diverse roles and activities. This really helps us to see the bigger picture and also identifies any gaps in our knowledge where we would benefit from additional training.

For me, that really is the biggest benefit of working for a group like Saint-Gobain. Yes, joining such a huge company can be a little overwhelming at first but if you are a motivated person who wants to do well, the business will help you achieve your goals. The only limit to your success is yourself!

To find out more about my experiences on the Saint-Gobain graduate programme, read my Employee Story here.

You can also hear what some of our recent graduates have to say about the programme by watching the video below.

British Gypsum - Graduates

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