Life on Dyson's rather different graduate programme
By any metric, Dyson is in a period of extraordinary growth. In 2016, for example, its profits soared by 41 per cent to reach £631m. Three years ago, 80 per cent of its business was in full-sized vacuum cleaners, but now its range includes Airblade™ hand dryers, bladeless fans, the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer and Jake Dyson Lighting among other products. It has also recently added engineering space in Singapore and a second UK campus close to its HQ in Malmesbury. Perhaps most importantly for you, however, is that its number of graduate programmes increases year on year.
How Dyson has re-thought the graduate scheme
Dyson has turned the conventions of traditional graduate schemes on their heads. Instead of giving you a structured graduate scheme with set rotations and ‘beginners’ work, Dyson provides you with:
- mission-based work, which enables you to work on meaty, impactful projects
- critical experiences, which enable you to develop the skills that will help you to achieve and progress throughout your career
- international experience, which gives you a broader perspective of the business.
Graduates are placed where they are needed most, according to current business needs. Therefore, you might not know exactly what you will be doing until very soon before you start. Jacinthe Vannier- Moreau, who joined the company’s international commercial executive graduate programme in September 2015, loves this approach. ‘I received a job offer eight months before I started, but discovered what I would be doing a week beforehand,’ she explains. ‘I didn’t mind because I expected to get an exciting mission in any department. Additionally, with the pace of Dyson, it would be impossible to predict my exact role eight months in advance!’
Jacinthe studied at a business school in France, before completing her final year as an exchange student at the University of Birmingham. ‘We had studied Dyson’s marketing model at my business school and so when I was investigating graduate schemes in the UK I looked it up,’ she says. ‘The company seemed different and this was echoed in the recruitment process. Dyson took the time to get to know me. I was impressed that I was interviewed by a senior executive: the global director of digital and owner experience. I assume he liked my interview, as I was placed in the digital marketing team.’
Mission 1: navigating digital
‘My first mission was to create and issue advertising best practices for several platforms to our different markets/countries,’ Jacinthe says. ‘My manager gave me the time to learn. He sent me to meet with both large technology companies and advertising agencies so that I could understand how to optimise our performances.’ Once she had issued her guidance, she led masterclasses for individual markets, building relationships across the globe and helping them to implement the strategy. ‘I had never been involved with digital before, but everyone was welcoming and understanding.’
Mission 2: social media advertising
Next up, Jacinthe was asked by her manager to investigate how competitor brands were using social media advertising, something that was only just beginning to take off for Dyson UK. ‘I met with large businesses and worked with our GB market to put together their strategy,’ she says. ‘At Dyson we are always trying new ways of working so I enjoyed being in the midst of this project, experiencing first-hand how we do this.’
Mission 3: leadership exposure
At this time, she was hand-picked to assist the chief commercial officer (CCO) on a business presentation for the company’s global leadership conference. ‘At previous employers when doing similar work I was only asked to beautify some slides, but here the CCO was interested in my ideas and suggestions. ‘He also got me involved with organising the conference, which was an amazing opportunity to meet Dyson leaders across the globe.’
Mission 4: Chicago
Then she was given the opportunity to pitch to the US team. ‘I was keen to work in Chicago, but I thought that they’d send me to Paris as I’m a native French speaker,’ she says. ‘I was impressed and appreciated that the company considered my preferences alongside its business needs; it’s another way in which Dyson is different.’
Initially, she worked on a project to use digital advertising to increase awareness of the James Dyson Foundation in the US, and Dyson’s passion for engineering. It was the first time that she managed a budget. ‘It was quite large, which was daunting, but I learned so much about commercial challenges.’ Her current mission is very different. ‘I am looking at where people buy their Dyson machines and how to improve their experience,’ she says.
Growing in confidence
‘Your time on the graduate programme is challenging, new and different – but it is a question of having confidence in your manager and the team around you,’ Jacinthe reflects. ‘You are given all the support and tools you need; you just need to ask. All of my managers have given me the perfect balance between having independence and support, so that I could feel proud of my achievements. I learned to trust my abilities.’
Jacinthe recommends Dyson’s graduate programmes. ‘Before I began at Dyson, I interned for a cosmetics company in New York for six months and I could have stayed. Moving back to Europe to work at Dyson was a gamble – I definitely won! This graduate programme has offered me so much; I am not even two years into my career and yet I have a voice in the business conversation, and a seat at the table. I feel so lucky.’