Interview the interviewer: O2's Director of Talent and Development, Michelle Adams

Interview the interviewer: O2's Director of Talent and Development, Michelle Adams

Michelle Adams, Director of Talent and Development at O2, tells us why they’re putting CVs aside during the selection process for their new graduate programme. 

Bringing graduates into the business is a brilliant way of tapping into the incredible potential of the next generation. At O2, we currently have 190 young people employed on one of our young talent schemes, from apprentices to graduate trainees. We see the genuine value that each of them brings to our organisation daily. As the first generation to have grown up with the internet, young people have natural digital skills at their fingertips in a way previous generations do not. And with all industries - not just tech – now looking to harness the power of digital, no company can afford to miss these skills. 

But graduates bring us so much more than just their innate digital ability; at O2 we see first-hand the value that those on our early careers programmes bring to teams across the business, with fresh perspectives and open minds. Of course, they have a lot to learn – and that’s what we’re here for – but they also have a lot to teach us. 

That’s why we’ve made this year O2’s graduate programme more accessible than ever before, with only the Finance programme requiring a degree classification (2:1 or higher in any subject). CVs are being put aside during the initial selection process. They’ll potentially be referred to during the interview stages, but the focus will be on giving applicants more opportunity to show us their natural digital skills, abilities, and passions, rather than judging them exclusively on academic achievements. 

We’ve found that after three years at university, grads are eager to get started, put their skills into practice in a working environment, and take their first step up the career ladder. It’s that fresh energy which is invaluable to us. It doesn’t matter what degree subject they have chosen, we want to see their interests and enthusiasm come to the fore, and not just their grades. 

We absolutely don’t expect our graduates to be the finished product. At O2, digital technology is at the heart of what we do so we do want our graduates to demonstrate a real passion for tech. But that doesn’t mean hunting for ready-made tech gurus. Instead, it means we want our grads to display the digital skills they’ve put into use during their time at university. They certainly don’t need to be a coding prodigy; anything from a regular online blog to a creative Instagram account evidences that vital appreciation of our digital environment and the hunger to work with us on driving the digital revolution forward. 

Above all, we want to see a desire to learn. I firmly believe that it’s our role as employers to upskill our newest intake; the only thing we can’t instil is that innate digital aptitude and thirst for knowledge, which together form the bedrock of everything else to come.

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