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My life at CGI, by a graduate with three years' experience

Abbie Maidment tells us about the way that her career has progressed over the past three years... and how she has achieved her ambition of buying a house.
The main reason I got a job with CGI was, I think, how prepared I was.

As an employer, I’d describe CGI as supportive, flexible and versatile. There is always a lot of support for any training that will help you to succeed. We have career frameworks to help people develop and be promoted – but if you want to switch specialism or frameworks it is encouraged. Since joining CGI, I have changed from a technical role to a project management framework.

Getting into CGI

At university, deciding to complete a placement year was the best decision I could have made. I was part of a team proposing technical solutions and then testing the required elements, but I was also involved in the interview process for my replacement. Some candidates were really under-prepared and this spurred me on to make sure that I was seriously ‘on it’ for my own applications.

The main reason I got a job with CGI was, I think, how prepared I was. I’d practised and practised in front of friends and family beforehand. This helped me to come across as confident. The interview process included a written exercise (completed before the assessment day), a group exercise and a presentation. I drew on my experience at Disney to answer the scenario-based questions in my interview.

I accepted CGI’s job offer mainly because I felt really comfortable during the interview process, but the Bridgend location was also important. I had had other offers for jobs in London, but I had a goal of wanting my own home as soon as possible. I’m pleased to say that I have just bought my own house three years after graduating and I don’t think I would have been able to do that if I’d moved to London.

Progressions and promotions

My first role was in the application delivery centre, working with two financial services and insurance clients. I deployed major and minor releases into the test and live environments – either to improve the application or because of a release issued by the client’s third-party service provider. I made sure the applications were available by performing health checks and reviewing the log files. I also monitored our inbox for issues and queries and, where possible, resolved them. Over the next couple of years, I took on more responsibility.

This year I moved to a new team responsible for project delivery, which takes an overall view of projects. My line manager in the application delivery centre had seen the role advertised on our internal vacancy system and suggested I go for it. I was appointed following an informal interview and, as one of the first people to join the team, was involved with interviewing the remaining members. It was exciting to set up a team from scratch.

Now I’m responsible for the day-to-day services provided to an asset management company. One of the things we do is to centrally control access to their services globally – from Singapore to London to New York. My role is to basically manage the daily tasks of the team (for example, by creating rotas and monitoring performance) and to help manage the client relationship (for example, by attending meetings in London and reporting on key metrics). I really enjoy being a people manager and I am still involved in technical aspects.

Recognition and training

I’ve been encouraged to do any training that will help me in my role, depending on budget limits. I have taken an ITIL qualification in service management, a level 2 line management qualification with the Institute of Leadership & Management, and the PRINCE2 project management qualification. There is also a lot of informal support: both my line managers have been great and I have been able to build a network among the whole company and with clients.

Another good thing about working at CGI is the recognition you receive for your work. For example, there is a recognition reward scheme through which you are nominated by your peers for work that has lived up to CGI’s values. I have actually received an award for each year I’ve been here, probably because I have been willing to get involved with things and said ‘yes’ to opportunities outside of my core role. I was voted in as the CGI graduate representative for Wales and I still attend university careers events, give presentations to students, attend breakfast meetings – it’s a busy time but I love it!

Lessons learned

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the workplace is not to compare myself to others: to accept that everyone has different abilities and that we can all learn from each other. When you are starting out, look for ways to develop your skills and try new things. Before I started my current role, I was concerned that I was quite young for this level of responsibility and I was worried about how my team would perceive me. Ultimately, however, you are judged not on factors like age or gender but on whether you can do your job. I’d advise others not to worry about external factors and just concentrate on doing the best you can.

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