Olly Benzecry is the newly appointed managing director of Accenture for the UK and Ireland
How important is graduate recruitment?
It is vital to the success of our business. Accenture has a large graduate recruitment programme and our “Boot Camps” help us identify some of the most talented students and graduates. Of the hundreds we employ each year, many become leaders in our organisation. Most initially join the analyst consulting group, where they learn core consulting skills across a variety of projects for clients in all sectors.
Do you have a big university campus presence?
Consulting is not always an obvious career choice for graduates as many do not understand the role. As a result, Accenture has a significant presence on campuses, running over 500 student-focused events during the academic year. We focus on building awareness of consulting and the IT sector to inspire students and we also take a targeted approach, such as running innovative skills sessions.
How has student behaviour changed during the recession?
There was a belief that students would be more eager to engage with recruiters during the recession as a result of fewer career opportunities. In fact, big organisations continued to recruit the very best university graduates so, in general, the top graduates saw little impact. The best students now have greater expectations and are very careful over where to invest their time. They demand a more tailored, bespoke approach, which will lead to a firm offer of employment.
How did you respond?
We wanted to teach both students and graduates specific skills to enhance their personal and professional development. As a result we launched Boot Camp. At this event, 30 pre-screened students spend 48 hours taking part in challenges and learning experiences – the kind of experience you would only get when you join a business. Boot Camp created a stir on campuses and in 2010 we received more than 1,000 applications for every 30 places on each event.
What does the Boot Camp teach?
It provides graduates and students with insight into consulting and into Accenture. More importantly, the session teaches them business skills such as leadership, presenting and problem-solving.
Does it involve military training?
Boot Camp is not physically arduous but is mentally challenging. It is designed to find the highest performing students and graduates, and delegates are mentally stretched to reach their full potential.
How did you decide what training young people need?
We worked with our graduate training partners. Giving students tangible business skills they can apply in any industry provides them with a head start at the beginning of their careers. We continually update the programme syllabus.
What impact does it have?
Feedback tells us that Boot Camp is influential in helping them to choose a career at Accenture – more than four out of five graduates who have been through Boot Camp take a position in Accenture. The experience helps to build confidence, sharpen business skills and commercial awareness, and raises career aspirations.
Do those you employ behave differently to other graduates?
Those who have been through Boot Camp have a greater knowledge of the organisation and our areas of specialisation. And they have a network in place when they start, thanks to the contacts they made.
Who benefits most – students or employer?
Both. There is no obligation on the student’s part to take a job at Accenture after Boot Camp but the vast majority do accept an offer. We benefit by attracting top graduates who hit the ground running.
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