So diverse is the global scope and efficiency of BT’s services that its presence in daily life is almost taken for granted. Known for being an expert in technology, it provides communications services including super-fast fibre, broadband, TV and mobile to households and businesses across the UK.
“There is a restless quest for innovation at BT, an energy that you feel throughout the company,” says Leasil Burrow, Director, Global Talent Acquisition Strategy. BT also provides infrastructure, supporting local and central government, defence, health and police services, and it offers career opportunities as forward-thinking, varied and challenging as its operations. Around a quarter of BT revenues are earned outside the UK from customers in more than 170 countries. “We really do lead the world in cyber-tech,” says Burrow, “and, because of that, we attract the really bright sparks.
who’s got talent?
Talent is a word often used when talking about graduates and apprentices. “We look for those individuals with initiative, ability and the potential to do great things very quickly – the brightest and the best,” says David Linton, BT’s Talent and Graduate Manager. “Everybody we employ has talent; it’s our job not to throw it away.” To advance the company’s technological expertise, BT recruiters focus on IT, maths, science and engineering. And, beyond its core technology business, BT runs large departments devoted to business management, customer service, HR and legal matters. By March 2015, for example, it had a worldwide portfolio of more than 4,500 patents and applications which needed an entire division of patent attorneys.
Careers are grown in-house. Depending on their particular skills, graduates follow a two-year job rotation, which gives a rounded company experience. “You could be in a TV studio in December and out with field engineers in September,” says Burrow. The “go anywhere, do anything” mindset lets graduates to develop their careers and expertise. They get structured appraisals and guidance, and the BT Academy are on hand to support learning and development.
Apprentices learn on the job, gaining qualifications and experience while earning. “We don’t expect someone fresh from doing A levels to have a specific focus, but we do still look for that potential and desire to learn,” says Burrow. “It is also not unusual to get a 30-year-old apprentice who wants to retrain as an Openreach engineer.”
A creative environment
Graduates and apprentices alike contribute to a culture of putting customers first. Take the business-wide competition The Challenge Cup, for instance, where BT people get the chance to showcase fresh, innovative approaches to how the company operates. “We don’t expect our people to accept the current work processes,” says Linton. “We want them to consider how we could be doing things better. Creativity is in our DNA.”
BT is a diverse multinational at the forefront of its sector, working with complex technology to improve people’s lives. It creates an environment in which graduates and apprentices excel and contribute across a field of career options. “Transferring in-house from one line of business to another is as rejuvenating as joining a new business,” says Burrow. “This is a fast-moving, forward-thinking, often demanding company to work in, but it is always rewarding.”