For graduate recruits, understanding an employer’s culture is really important. An organisation’s culture is its unique social and psychological environment and includes its vision, values, customs, systems, symbols, language and assumptions. It fundamentally affects employees and the way it interacts with clients.
As Varvara Sidorova, Deloitte Digital Graduate Recruitment Lead, says: “I believe you can only succeed in your career if you work for an organisation whose culture is consistent with your own internal set of values, and if you like the people who you work with, both your team members and your customers.”
Eileen Valera is a Systems Integration Engineer with Deloitte Digital. She explains how – from a client’s point of view – agile and collaborative working is a vital component of the culture at Deloitte Digital. This means involving customers in every stage of the project, keeping pace with technical developments and being flexible in your approach – creating solutions iteratively so Deloitte Digital can build in new ideas as the solution develops.
Eileen gives an example of a typical work scenario: “A client’s IT infrastructure may need adapting because of changes to government regulations. The mainframe they’re using may be discontinued; but it won’t be the best solution to tear up their systems, so instead of totally reconfiguring the system you adapt what’s there. You find a new solution while keeping the hardware and create a new repository within the existing system against which to map data.”
“Working with many varied customers, you’re handling challenges from the start,” says Eileen. “This grows you as an individual. To serve the needs of clients, the team changes on a project by project basis. You have different customers, changing circumstances and sometime new colleagues.” The important thing is to adapt core skills, some of which require a balancing act. “You often need to point out problems without making it seem as if the world is ending.”
According to Eileen, the differences between work and studying aren’t as many as you’d imagine. Her experience at Deloitte Digital is that – if anything – there is more learning at work and more events too, plus group meetings and buddying with mentors who support you and pass on their experience.
Training and development
At Deloitte Digital, graduate recruits get extensive development. The first few weeks are dedicated exclusively to training, and that is part of a longer process of ongoing learning.
Graduate Analysts undergo a two-year training programme during which they work on client projects while learning at the same time. Each new analyst at Deloitte Digital has a mentor who will be a few grades higher and who can help employees overcome challenges and make the right choices. Engineering Analysts are paired up with Senior Developers who will also help recent recruits learn new technologies.
Just a fraction of the frameworks and design patterns a Deloitte Digital Graduate Engineer may be expected to use include:
- Progressive Enhancement
- Native and Hybrid Mobile App Development
- HTML 5 and CSS 3
Graduates who work in advisory roles are equally well-supported in terms of development. They help clients shape their marketing, sales and customer service strategies, design customer and user experiences, structure their front office operations and adopt digital technologies that improve how they engage with customers. This involves extensive training and other forms of learning – in analysing business data, estimating costs, documentation, making a business case, defining customer and user journeys, managing suppliers and multiple projects and running meetings.
As well as via formal training, a huge amount of the culture of open learning and experimentation at Deloitte Digital is created and channelled through team games and its blog.
The team games are what are known as mash-up days and hackathons where groups brainstorm product ideas that are assessed for their viability by a panel. The winning team gets a prize.
The company also runs all-women hackathons as part of the Deloitte Women in Technology Network, which was born in 2007 and now has over 600 members across different areas of the firm.
The network aims to attract more women to develop their technology careers with Deloitte. It provides access to internal and external role models, a support network, opportunities, and it celebrates the accomplishments of women in technology.
“It makes for a very invigorating environment,” says Florence Curtis, a Business Analyst with Deloitte Digital who graduated with a degree in Economics. “My advice to students is to do things with openness. You can’t know what you’re good at until you it try it – so try new roles and projects and take a multidisciplinary approach. In Deloitte it’s perfectly possible move from an advisory role to a technical one.”
Openness of culture
This openness of culture serves Deloitte’s female employees very well. “Often women don’t feel encouraged into technical roles,” says Florence. “Deloitte does a huge amount to break down those barriers. I felt very welcomed into the technical side of the business.”
There are other innovations within the firm that spread know-how: “town hall” addresses and an excellent blog that covers anything from global trade to the latest developments in electronic medical records. “Digital disruptors” are those in the firm whose role is to identify trends that will transform an industry technically, so they are well versed in the likes of 3D printing and virtual reality. To press the point home there is a 3D printer on display in the office along with a VR machine, a TARDIS for making phone calls, and a space-age coffee machine that Eileen describes as “beautiful”. The furniture within the open plan office can be very flexibly arranged and there are white boards dotted around to capture brainwaves.
But Deloitte Digital believes its environment isn’t only nice creatively but necessary for business and to focus its mix of Analysts, Creative Designers, Channel Strategists, Engineers, Architects and Product Specialists.
Giles Warner, Deloitte Digital Head of Talent, says: “Our team and culture reflects the diverse nature of the work that we do. We are all different, but share the same curiosity and passion for applying digital technologies to help our clients become stronger businesses. Our willingness to have a distinct point of view makes us better able to address our clients’ challenges in innovative ways.”
According to Varvara, applicants to the firm need passion about customer and user experience, curiosity and eagerness to learn, an interest in using digital technology to solve complex business problems and to be a collaborative person whom clients will enjoy working with.
Advice for applicants
And when students research organisations as part of their career applications, what sorts of things should they bear in mind and look for? Varvara draws upon her experience of hiring talented graduates to ask students to think about:
- Content of work: does this organisation do the work I am interested in? When I look at examples of its recent work, is this something that excites me?
- Strategic direction: are my long-term career goals aligned with how this organisation is set to develop? For example, is it a new dynamic growing business so my career can grow as it develops, or is it a stable established market player where I can develop deep expertise in my area of specialism?
- Learning and development support: will I get an opportunity to learn new skills? Is there structured support provided through a training programme and on-the-job coaching and mentoring?
- Culture: will I like working with these people? Is this the environment where I will feel inspired, challenged and supported? How will working for this organisation fit with my lifestyle?
Deloitte is the event programme partner for IT’s not just for the boys! 2015/2016.