If you want some friendly advice about life after university, you could do a lot worse than speak to Shanthi Flynn, the Chief HR Officer at the Adecco Group. As the world’s largest provider of workforce solutions, and currently ranked as the seventh multinational in the Great Place To Work survey, it is a company with exceptional expertise in how the world of work is changing.

“We partner with many of the biggest companies in the world,” she says from the company’s Swiss headquarters. “Being a Cambridge graduate isn’t necessarily enough to guarantee a position at a top company – the game has changed. This is something today’s graduates must think about. They are up against global competitors with international experience.”


finding new talent

Flynn knows what she is talking about, having observed the quality of candidates for the Adecco Group’s “CEO For One Month” global programme. Every year, young talent from around the world can apply for the opportunity to shadow the group’s global CEO, Alain Dehaze, for a month. Around 55,000 young people applied in 2016 and, after a series of rigorous assessments, 50 candidates were selected to work alongside their respective country’s Managing Directors. “All the finalists were incredibly talented people,” says Flynn. “That is the level of competition that graduates face these days.”

Eventually, one candidate – Camille Clément, a 22-year-old French student – was chosen as the Global CEO For One Month. She visited the White House, together with Alain Dehaze, to launch the US Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN) and today is working for Adecco France on a project to integrate refugees into the French labour market. “It’s a perfect opportunity for us to locate and nurture new talent as we search for leaders of tomorrow,” says Flynn.


Fifty years of success

Introducing people to the world of work is something the Adecco Group has been doing since it was founded in the 1960s following the merger of Adia, a Swiss agency work provider, and Ecco, a leading French recruiter. The group now spans 60 countries, helping more than 700,000 people find employment, from temporary seasonal work to deploying skilled engineers at the highest levels.

Several companies outsource entire departments to the Adecco Group, which can match candidates with employers and offer training and advice through their many different brands. As a result of its direct involvement with both employees and employers, the group is well-placed to understand the evolving needs of both.

Another key aspect is flexibility. As the work climate changes, more graduates use temporary work to gain knowledge and experience in a variety of disciplines and environments as a route to a permanent role. Simultaneously, major employers now seek employees with previous work experience, so the Adecco Group endeavours to give people this much-valued experience, whether through summer internships or post-graduate short-term contracts. The group provided more than 10,500 internships and apprenticeships around the world between 2015 and 2016.

“We help people get the skills that employers now require across a broad range of industries,” says Flynn. “The key to building a successful career is to be an agile learner. You need to be adaptable to a fast-changing environment with the drive to succeed, not only as an individual but as part of a team. We provide hundreds of thousands of people with the opportunity to create a career and change their lives.”