Rebecca Eliad, Early Careers Specialist
Law LLB, MSc Human Resource Management & Organisational Analysis
When I was applying for graduate programmes in 2015/16, I didn’t have any awareness of Veolia as a business, let alone a business in which I could build my career. I remember looking into various graduate programmes on jobs boards, reading up about the companies and firing off applications for the ones that caught my interest. This is where I first came across Veolia, which I discovered to be a bit of a silent giant!
I read up about the company strategy, how very global the company is, the commitment to innovation and a circular economy - probably read every page and watched every video! - and I thought wow, now this is something I want to be involved in. So I sent in my application and crossed my fingers as I passed through each stage from competency questions, to online testing, to telephone interview and then onto the assessment day. I was quite nervous the day of the assessment day; more so I think than the ones I had been to previously for other companies, because I really wanted to join Veolia and support some of the amazing things I’d been reading up about it.
Thankfully I was offered a place on the graduate programme and had the opportunity to do just that!
I was brought in as an HR Graduate in September 2016, starting with our Recruitment and HR Shared Services teams where I was able to build on the knowledge from my degree to understand the employee lifecycle in action from recruitment through to retirement. I also took on a project to improve our employee on-boarding and induction process; developing welcome packs, induction documentation to aid new starters and managers, and e-learning induction modules to support local induction into the business. As a recent new starter myself, I had a lot of ideas!
From here, I moved into People Development (PD) where one of my key tasks was to benchmark our PD function against others within and outside of our industry; researching new insights and best practice in learning and development. Based on this, I drew up recommended actions for improvement and presented to senior management. I later supported implementation of aspects of this related to communication of the PD offering across the business and addressing the STEM skills gap in our industry, working with key stakeholders to develop and refine strategies for this.
My final area of development on the graduate programme came from supporting our HR Business Partnering team who work closely with the business to help drive the strategic vision. This enabled me to get an even better understanding of the day to day workings of various sites, from Materials Recovery Facilities, to Energy Recovery Facilities, to Commercial and Municipal depots, and Household Waste Recycling Centres. Most memorably, I had the chance to train up as a loader and work for a day on our waste and recycling trucks in my local area. This was a fantastic (and very tiring!) experience and allowed me to really appreciate the hard work being carried out by a large proportion of Veolia employees in all weather conditions.
Overall, the graduate programme provided me with a wide range of opportunities to learn about Veolia and develop skills that have come in very handy for my current role of Early Careers Specialist. In this role, I now look after graduate, intern and apprentice recruitment for the UK, as well as looking after all graduates for the duration of the 2-year Graduate Development Programme. Developing my stakeholder management, communications and project management skills as a Graduate meant that I was able to take my new role and run with it from day one. Having been on the graduate programme also provided me with a first-hand perspective of being a Veolia graduate - a useful and quite unique position to be in when looking at areas for continual improvement with our programme.
My key piece of advice for any future Veolia graduates is to be proactive, take on a variety of opportunities to broaden your understanding of the business, build relationships with a wide range of people, and not be afraid to ask questions. Some of the most interesting experiences I had on programme stemmed from opportunities I came across simply by starting a conversation with someone I didn’t know.