Imagine starting a new job every four to eight months.
That’s exactly what Justin Abraham, a 23-year-old graduate of Queen’s University’s Commerce program, has done as a member of Bell’s Graduate Leadership Program in the company’s mobility and residential services division.
In the last year and four months, he’s held positions pertaining to e-training, digital marketing and compensation management, in addition to working in a call centre and retail store. These rotations have allowed Justin to sample different departments, execute key deliverables, and develop a vast, cross-functional network. Bell’s goal: to prepare recent-grads like Justin for permanent placement.
“The idea behind the rotational program is to give us the experience that might otherwise take years to obtain,” Justin says. The arrangement “forces you to learn on your feet and hit the ground running. It’s a challenge, but everyday is interesting.”
When Justin—and 20 other recent graduates—started at Bell in 2011, the duration of the program was flexible, ranging from 18 to 30 months. Justin, for example, has had three four-month roles and one eight-month role. But since then, 30 more grads joined in 2012 and it’s become a structured 18-month term, with two five-and-nine-month long positions in product development, marketing, customer operations or sales in addition to four months in a call centre and retail store.
Positions are customized to each participant’s interests, skills and career trajectory. “You really get a say in where you are going to end up,” he says. “I haven’t heard anyone complain that they are in a role that they didn’t want.”
Justin spent his first three months at a mobility care call centre at Bell’s Mississauga office. He did the same three weeks of training that a normal agent would before helping mobile phone, tablet and mobile Internet customers. The next month was spent in a retail store at Square One Shopping Centre, also in Mississauga.
He says these four months were crucial to his understanding of the business, the brand and Bell’s relationship with its customers. “The amount that you can learn from speaking to customers everyday is remarkable,” Justin says. “It humbled me.”
In the first of two four-month rotations, he launched training programs for over 500 mobile care representatives and streamlined over 15,000 training documents at the Mississauga office. In the second role, Justin implemented quarterly web campaigns for Virgin Mobile (a subsidiary of Bell Mobility), worked on the launch of the new iPad and strengthened Virgin’s online support section at the Toronto office on King Street West.
Justin had to sharpen his Microsoft Excel skills to succeed in his current role as channel compensation specialist. He manages a substantial budget as a member of Bell’s compensation team at Bell’s Mississauga office to determine appropriate incentives for channels, or non-corporate carriers like Future Shop and WirelessWave. “The goal is to promote the lifetime value of the customer through compensation,” he says. This will be final role before he is placed in a permanent position next February.
There is a formal and informal professional development process at Bell. Executive Vice-President of Customer Operations John Watson heads the program. Graduates meet with him every quarter and with their mentor, a director or executive, each month to discuss their work process. “Our opinions are given a lot of credit in a lot of places,” Justin says. “It really seems that when we speak up, someone listens and that’s really nice to see.”
Justin’s just four months away from landing a full-time position, and he’s begun networking with some of Bell’s 60,000 employees. “I haven’t had a coffee or lunch meeting invite declined yet,” he says. He doesn’t know where he will end up, but he says that Canada’s largest communications company is an exciting place for any young marketer. “How cool is it to work on a product that someone won’t ever go three feet from unless they need to?”
A rotational program has more do to with how a candidate fits in the industry and company rather than their ability to fulfill responsibilities or a specific job. “The opportunities are endless in a company as big and broad as we are,” Justin says.
Photo credit: Mike Beltzner