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Dan Hawes: Hello. My name's Dan Hawes from the Graduate Recruiters Network. It gives me great pleasure to introduce our first recording of a Graduate Recruiters Network event. Held on September the 11th at the headquarters of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, England and Wales, in London. We had the pleasure of hearing a presentation by Gemma Hurt from Kerry Foods. So listen on and learn lots more about how to ace your inductions.

Gemma Hurt: Our graduate programme, just briefly in a bit of a nutshell, we recruit about 26 graduates each year across eight functional areas. So it feels like we recruit a lot more. It's hard work finding that one person for HR or one person for business technology. We have a two year rotational programMme. So as TJ said, he's in his first year, about to go into his second year of the programme. We encourage our graduates to be really mobile throughout GB and Ireland. So when they sign up to us, they really do sign up to being anywhere in UK and Ireland. And some of our sites like Shillelagh, doubt any of you would know where Shillelagh is, I didn't either. It's a tiny little country village ... It's not even really a village, but an hour and a half from Dublin.

Gemma Hurt: So they're pretty open-minded about the location that they could be based. And for some, maybe being in a factory isn't the kind of sexiest of places to work, so we try to bring it to life through the recruitment process. We work with the Irish Management Institute, so they help us develop our graduate programme. So we work with them in real partnership to make sure it's a Kerry Foods graduate programme, but they obviously have access to a brilliant faculty on presentation skills. And TJ has been through this, so we can give him some feedback at the end. But they help work with us to develop a really brilliant graduate programme.

Gemma Hurt: They are three-day modules. So we really do put a lot of investment into them. They spend three days with us in one of our sites or one of our offices. So they get to really understand Kerry Foods, but also get these leadership skills that are really important to get on in our business. We also invest quite heavily in executive coaching. So they get three sessions throughout the two year programme. And much like leaving university, you feel like you're falling off a cliff at the end. The last coaching session is actually after they finish graduating the programme, just to give them a bit of continuity of support. We don't abandon them at the end of the two years, but just to give them a good bit of support about life after the graduate programme.

Gemma Hurt: In the second year, they bring all of the brilliant skills they've developed over two years to deliver a project set by our Kerry Foods leadership team. So we're really lucky to have really good access to our CEO. That's Duncan, at the bottom here. Actually he was a Kerry Foods graduate, so absolutely no pressure to find our next CEO. So they sponsor a project, things like modern slavery, well-being, community. So some key projects that the KFLT want to sponsor the graduate's work on them, and present them back at the end of the programme.

Gemma Hurt: So that's where our induction fits in at the beginning. So I joined in September 2016. The first time I met my 2016 graduates was standing in front of them in the Irish Management Institute in October 2016. And although it was a brilliant induction, we kind of handed out the reigns to the Irish Management Institute and I didn't learn anything about Kerry Foods. And I was kind of still in my induction. And I felt we'd missed a brilliant opportunity to tell them a bit about Kerry Foods, for them to experience the culture and the values which are so integral to our business.

Gemma Hurt: We give our graduates the opportunity to join at any point they want in the year, so if they want to join in May, they can. So our graduates kind of stagger their way through the year. And then October, when we see them, is the first time we bring them together. But what that means is, our graduates have quite different experiences, and their inductions are locally led. So I felt we'd just missed a bit of a trick there.

Gemma Hurt: So for 2017, I decided day one of their graduate induction would be all about Kerry Foods. But actually it would be all about our graduates. So what happens sometimes in graduate inductions, you want to use as a day to tell them how brilliant you are, and all the best things about your business. And actually, for me, the graduate induction was all about the graduates. What do they want to know on day one? What's going to add value to them? Not an opportunity for me to stand up and show off about our business.

Gemma Hurt: And we made it 100% about us. So although day two and three of the graduate induction remained supported by the IMI, day one was all about Kerry Foods, from the branding, we renamed it the On It Graduate Induction, and On It is one of our values. And we wanted to ensure that everyone had a consist welcome to the business. And it was led by the business, not HR. So I facilitated it, I designed it, but it was very much all about the business. They don't want to hear from me, they want to hear from the guys who've been in the business a lot longer and have spent time in the business and worked their way through.

Gemma Hurt: And what I think I'm really privileged, I kind of touched on already, but something I'm really proud of, our senior leaders are just so accessible. We had Ado, who is our MD of Grocery, standing up there, didn't have any slides. Told them about his life. And when our leaders introduce themselves, they don't stand there going, "My name is Ado. I'm the MD of meats. I'm really, really important." It's all about, "I'm Ado. I'm from Cork. Got two children and a wife. And this is what I'm all about." So even the way they introduce themselves just kind of brings to life the culture. It's not all about hierarchy, it's about people connecting with people to do brilliant business.

Gemma Hurt: For the senior leaders, graduates and alumni form part of the day. I had very little role in that day, which is excellent. And we use story telling, which I'll touch on in a bit more detail, to really bring to life our history, business, and culture. Because they could feel it. Rather than just hear it, they could also feel the energy in the room.

Gemma Hurt: And I don't know how you find your graduates, sorry TJ, trying to keep their attention is the biggest challenge. So I've learned 15 minutes and then let them go do something. 15 minutes, do something. So next year, we're going to be a bit more interactive, but we did try and bring in interactive activities to keep engagement high. The social life is quite high on induction, as well. I'm not parenting them, so they can do what they want so long as they turn up smiling at nine o'clock in the morning. But we also have to compete with the social activities around the three day induction, as well.

Gemma Hurt: So this is the agenda. I'm not going to go through it in too much detail, but just to give you a bit of a flavor. So we welcomed the graduates into the day. We had a wall, which they could go and post post-it notes with any questions that came to them, so we could really kind of see what's on their mind throughout the day.

Gemma Hurt: We had an icebreaker which is just fun activity to bring them together and introduce themselves. And then we talked about our business. So the inductions they've previously had was very much about this is Shillelagh, and this is Kerry Foods Shillelagh. So we wanted to kind of build out. So what was the whole of our business? What is that brilliant business they've joined? And all of the opportunities that would give them?

Gemma Hurt: Then I said we had Ado talking about his career. And he really shared some of the vulnerabilities. He's one of our senior leaders on the Kerry Foods leadership team and he told us about vulnerable times, times where stuff hadn't really worked out. And TJ might touch on it. It really resonated with the graduates that they don't have to be perfect. I think we probably put a little bit of pressure on our grads, telling them they're our next leaders. They're top talent. We've got all these expectations. But actually it's okay not to be brilliant all the time. And some of those messages were really kind of coming through from Ado.

Gemma Hurt: And then we delivered the Kerry Foods story, which I'll talk in a bit more detail because I think it's quite a special networking lunch. And then we tried to get them used to kind of checking in with themselves, kind of a thought and a feeling to really understand what's on their mind. How are they feeling? What's gone on for them in the morning? And a bit of a future treat, so one of our values is forwards looking. So about kind of thinking ahead to two years, at the end of the graduate programme, what are we going to be tweeting about? Is it about your job? Is it about we now deliver sausages through a drone? Or we've now got a cricket sausage?! What could the future of Kerry Foods or your career could look like? So although they're in the moment, and we want them to also be patient about their careers, kind of what's going on in the future for them?

Gemma Hurt: And then we talked about the resources available to them. So I don't know if you find this from graduates that sometimes like, "I'm not learning anything, I'm not developing, I haven't been on the course for a month." So we try to bring to life learning isn't all about being in the classroom or being on a workshop. 70% of their learning is on the job. That's why we rotate them. That's why we make sure they have really stretching roles. So we're trying to bring that to life for them so they really understand this graduate programme, although it's brilliant, it's only 10% of their learning. The 20% is learning through others, through the mentors they get in the business, through their peer group. They've got 25 other people across our whole business, probably a broader network than most people would have, and then the 10% is the graduate development program and any kind of functional training. So just trying to bring that to life for them that this is the whole of their learning journey, not just the three day modules when they come and see me.

Gemma Hurt: Then we had a break. We give them lots of breaks, and we snacked on Kerry Foods products. I was going to bring some for you, but they need to be refrigerated and I thought food poisoning wasn't a brilliant way to introduce Kerry Foods. And then we talked about mentoring. So we actually brought the mentors in the room to learn at the same time as the graduates. Again, breaking down some of these barriers of hierarchy. So we introduce what mentoring is and what it isn't and how it compares to coaching. So I said the graduates also get coaching.

Gemma Hurt: And then we got the graduates, the mentors and the mentees, to create a bit of a mentoring contract by answering questions about what does a great mentee look like? And we got the mentors to answer that. And what does a great mentor look like? And we got the mentees to answer that. And then we brought that together into a bit of a commitment. The graduates should be driving their own mentoring relationship, but we also expect a lot from our mentors to be available and to care. So by bringing this together, they created it. It wasn't me creating how they need to work, they created it together. And I think it brought a really nice kind of unity to that relationship and also setting out in a really good stead.

Gemma Hurt: And then using the post-it note questions that came through the day, we had a graduate panel. So that was made up of some of our senior leaders that have come through as graduates. 44% of our Kerry Foods leadership team started life as a graduate, which is a pretty nice stat. But there are hundreds of graduates in our business really working their way through the business. So we had our graduate that had just rolled off the programme, who are currently on the programme, and those that have been a few years off the programme. And we got them to answer questions.

Gemma Hurt: So again, it's not me telling them how brilliant we are or everything that we do. The graduates are saying it completely uncensored, which is always a bit risky. But they got an opportunity to kind of share their answers and share their stories. And then that was the end of day one. We went to dinner with the mentors, again, just to give them opportunity to connect with their mentees. And then day two and day three, followed with leadership at Kerry Foods and their development journey. So by the end of the three days, they understand the business, they understand a bit about what leadership looks like, and how they start their development journey.

Gemma Hurt: So the Kerry Foods story, I wanted to touch on this. I think it's quite special. And you can tell me if you agree later. So in 2015, we worked with a business called Story Tellers. And we wanted to kind of re-ignite and win the hearts and minds of our employees through sharing our purpose and our vision. So we created a six chapter story which really brings together our pride and our purpose, our current situation, our current reality, opportunities and challenges. Also our growth opportunities, our values, and vision. And the narrative that was created around that became the Kerry Foods story.

Gemma Hurt: So it's a really lovely way to tell people about our story. And when we brought it into the business, this was cascaded to every single employee. Every single person who worked in our factories. And it was all through the medium of story telling. Again, just brings that culture. Hopefully you're getting a sense of the culture. Bringing the culture of Kerry Foods to life. So we did that for the graduates, as well.

Gemma Hurt: So what our leaders did was take a chapter of the story, the read the headline, they read the buckets underneath it, and then they introduce themselves and share a pride story. So pride stories are about something they're really proud of that really resonates to the chapter of the story they're delivering. And again, it brings to life Kerry Foods as a business, but also some of the feelings, some of the personalities. And I think it says a lot more than just this is our business. It's a little bit small, I can share it with you later.

Gemma Hurt: And then we finished with a video. So I'm going to share it with you. For anyone who watches this who works for Kerry Foods, it's quite special. And there are the odd goose pimples for people who work for Kerry Foods. So you might not get that much of an emotive response, but we do share it with our graduates. We get told we have to do it loud and proud, the louder the better, but I think the volume's okay. But I'd just love to get you to watch it as well.

Gemma Hurt: So some of the challenges. My hook this morning was there was no budget. There is no budget. I don't have any budget for anything I do. Which makes you try and be a bit more imaginative. So one of the challenges was bringing this to life with no budget. I used networking a lot to find friends who wanted to bring me samples of food products and lovely branded mugs. But actually, we didn't need any budget. It was all about the people that we had on the day. So there was a challenge.

Gemma Hurt: I have led inductions in different businesses where I've had a budget and I've done these shiny, brilliant things with 3D printers and all sorts of cool things, but actually I think the impact that we could deliver with no budget was pretty brilliant.

Gemma Hurt: Through our balancing content, I wanted to tell them everything and I had to keep bringing myself back to say it's a big day, they're going to be tired, it's a long day. So actually what is really important for them at the right time and the right moment in that session? And also managing expectations of my senior leaders. So for them, they own quite a bit of money. Their time is expensive. But actually, they might not have a massive role on the day. It might be sitting on a table chatting with a graduate so they're less nervous around being around all these new people.

Gemma Hurt: Inductions for introverts are probably quite hard, as are assessment centese. We discover on the way. But actually just them being there and the fact that they're willing to give up their time speaks volumes. So for me it's around managing expectations of your leaders that they might not walk away thinking, "I've really added huge amounts of value or content." Just being there speaks volumes.

Gemma Hurt: And what does 2018 look like? So I'm about a couple of weeks away, I think. We've got a new purpose. So we'll bring that to life for the graduates. We're going to do story telling again, and actually TJ is going to lead one of the chapters. So he's going full circle in helping run the day. Someone told me leadership is doing such a brilliant job you make yourself redundant, so I'm on that journey now with giving everyone else the reins. More breaks and energisers just to keep them moving. So we've got more breaks than actual content right now.

Gemma Hurt: And when I said we've got graduates leading the day, just to bring that to life and give them opportunities as well. So I think TJ did a brilliant job standing up in front of you guys. I'm pretty nervous at the age of 24 standing here.

Gemma Hurt: Increase networking. So our senior leaders are going to move tables. Historically they just sat one table for the whole day, but actually just to really increase that networking. And I'm creating a graduate contract. So the mentoring contract worked really, really well. So this year I'm going to create a graduate contract. Again, it's driven by the business, not by me. So those who are attending from Kerry Foods are going to really detail what do we expect from graduates? What does the business expect from graduates? And that can be behaviours, it can be, I don't want to pre-empt what it's going to be. Re-taking ownership of their career. But then the graduates get an opportunity to hold the mirror up to us as well about what do they expect from Kerry Foods? A brilliant mentor, one-to-ones, time to develop themselves, give them stretch. And actually, we're going to create this graduate commitment together so we can hold the grads accountable if they're not demonstrating that and they can also hold us to account if we need to.

Gemma Hurt: The key take-aways is make it for the graduates. When you get into inductions, think about the graduates, not about the business, and that'll probably hold you in good stead. You don't need big budgets to be brilliant. You don't need any, really. Just need brilliant people. And share the load. I'm a team of one. I look after recruitment and development. I'm pretty busy, as I'm sure most of you are. And I'm sure you've adopted apprenticeships as well on the way, like I have. So share the load. Actually get the business involved. It's taken me a while to realise the graduates aren't mine. I talk about my graduates a lot. They're not my graduates. They're the business's graduates, I just happen to recruit and develop them.

Gemma Hurt: So thank you. Does anyone have any questions?

Speaker 1: Thank you. When they first start the programme, and then three months in, in a particular location. They then say I don't want to be in the middle of nowhere with no friends or family. And I just wondered if you have something similar despite how flexible they say they are in the beginning?

Gemma Hurt: So I probably provide tough love through the recruitment process, probably off-puttingly so. In all of the communications them, it's, "We expect you to be mobile. If that doesn't fill you with excitement, then don't bother applying." And I'm pretty blunt with it. So we stress it through every single path in the recruitment process. And all of our assessment centers are a day and a half. So the day prior, they get to meet some of our existing graduates and have dinner, as well as a presentation. And all that is for us to really highlight some of those key messages around mobility. And we actually try and run when it is going to be kind of site-based, like a Shillelagh. We run them in the sites.

Gemma Hurt: And actually what we've discovered is a lot of people want rotation at the cheaper location. So we do have Surrey, and sometimes that's normally where they want to gravitate to, but I'm having a bit of a change where our graduates are actually asking us to go to cheaper locations. They get a bit of a break from rent. So that's something I'm actually tackling with is how do we help our graduates financially? Because that's probably more of a challenge I'm facing rather than the actual physical location. And we are just really strong, but they have to move. And although they might be placed in a site for a location, they're an operations grad who happens to be in Shillelagh. Not they're a Shillelagh grad. So they have to be really open-minded. And we've actually got all of our grads moving and we haven't had too much fuss.

Speaker 2: From what you said, this sounds like a very hands-on role. And during the time period of the graduate programme, because our programme's very, very hands-on, and an integral part of the business when they join us, how do you deal with the fact that probably towards the end of the programme, their experience far outstrips the remunerations they're getting? So you get that, "I'm no longer a graduate," kind of, because they see their pay with their peers is not what you call going ... "Well they do the same job as me, I get paid more." How do you deal with that?

Gemma Hurt: So we try and encourage them from a behaviour perspective not to talk about money. We actually give them three pay increases across the two years. So the normal cycle for the general population is once a year, the graduates get three across the two years. So by the end of the graduate programme, they should be in salaries of the roles we expect them to be in. So there might still be jumps, and we allow the business to adjust at the end of the programme. But rather than we give them one pay cycle a year and it's the same percentage as general population, and then they could be X grand between the role they should be in, we try and stagger it so it's not such a massive jump or a massive gap towards the end.

Gemma Hurt: So you're never going to make people happy about pay. Much like people saying, "I'm in Engham, it's more expensive than Hyde and Manchester. Can I have more money?" And you just get into a massive mess. So they will all say they're not happy about money. Are you happy about money? No. But hopefully the interventions of three pay cycles and a higher rate helps them.

Gemma Hurt: That is true, yes. So it's performance weighted and the country they're in. So the global reward team design. We did used to have brackets. It got really complicated. So it's a set percentage decided each year for their performance rating and the country they're in.

Speaker 3: I was just interested in the rotation. How often do you rotate? And are you rotating within the same function?

Gemma Hurt: So they all rotate within the same function apart from our business technology programme. So it's a new programme we've only had out for two years where they actually go into operations for six months, then they go into commercial for six months, and then they go into IT for the last year. The idea being to be a true business partner rather than kind of sitting in their IT office and not really understanding how IT can help the business. They're there. They understand the business, the challenges, and how IT can help them. The rest of them, they remain within function apart from commercial, where they go into sales, category, and marketing, but all within commercial.

Gemma Hurt: The rest are within function. And they really do vary dependent upon what we need them to do. So they will all rotate at least once. Some of them will rotate three times across the two years.

Speaker 4: Thank you. I was interested in the mentoring. Can you tell us a bit about, I suppose firstly what the expectations are of the mentors in terms of other particular things you're wanting them to put across to the graduate? And secondly, how do you match up the mentors and the mentees?

Gemma Hurt: So our mentors have to be people who want to be a mentor, firstly. Because if they don't, it just becomes a tick list on their job. A job on their tick list. So we identify them by top talent in our business. We restructured last year. There are probably less opportunities for managers to manage people. So it's a really brilliant opportunity for those that want to although it's not managing, kind of giving an opportunity to develop somebody. Because we don't know our graduates super well, we've obviously seen them through the recruitment process but not seen them in real life, our mentors are just matched up based on the fact that they're in the same function and they're visible, they've got time, they're brilliant people, and they want the opportunity.

Gemma Hurt: Obviously, if we then lost a mentor through leaving the business or whatever, we'd then try and match them on a skill set. And we don't drive what the content should be and we make sure we really emphasise it's completely confidential. So I have no idea what TJ talks to his mentor about. The only time I get involved is if the mentor has a genuine worry about what's being shared with them and there's a worry about their well-being, and then I'll know.

Gemma Hurt: But it's driven by the mentee. So the emphasis is massively on TJ and his peers to drive that relationship. I'm not going to parent-child them and tell them they need to do once a month. I leave them to it. And if they choose to take the opportunity, brilliant. And for the mentor, it's to make space for them. So we also get feedback, I've just sent out a survey, actually, to ask for feedback on what's working well, what's not, to make sure that it's working for the mentors and the mentees.

Speaker 5: Thank you. I just wanted to say that was really interesting, firstly. But when you do the graduate programme, at the end of it, what happens to the graduates? Because we get feedback sometimes that graduates then just feel they're left alone to kind of work out what happens next. What do you do at Kerry Foods to keep them still engaged post completing the programme?

Gemma Hurt: So as I said, we give them an extra coaching session at the end, kind of November time, as they finish in October. They feel they've got that additional support. They keep their mentor, so they don't lose their mentor at the end of the two years. It kind of continues with them through their journey as long as they want to keep that relationship going. So to be honest, I couldn't tell you how many still are, but I know there are a few. And actually, they're still on people's radar. There's a massive investment in them. The programme's more expensive than some of our other areas. So we want to keep track of them.

Gemma Hurt: From their attention, we bring them back in. They support our assessment centres, career paths, and I've always got a bit of eye, so I'll always get a phone call saying, "I'm about to go for an interview, can you coach me?" So they kind of all stay in touch and feel fairly supportive, but they also know that two years has given them everything they need. A brilliant network. They've met hundreds of people through the graduate modules. They know, they've got their mentor. They've got a massive support network to help them. So there is a bit where they need to kind of go and give it a go, but they know that they've got some support if they need it to tap into.

Dan Hawes: I hope you enjoyed that recording and learnt lots about how to ace your inductions. With big thanks to Gemma Hurt at Kerry Foods and all our members, it was a fantastic event. We're looking ahead to the next one on December the 5th in London. For more information, please contact me, Thank you.