Every change brings with it new knowledge and a new perspective

By Rebecca Ward

Ok, so you’re looking on the internet and talking to your friends about all the graduate programmes out there – how are you supposed to decide which programme to apply for? What are the key things to look for? Well for me it was all about experiencing as much breadth as possible and the key to this was rotations. What I didn’t anticipate was just how much development I would get.

The business bit

The Finance Future Leaders Programme at GSK gave me the opportunity to work across three different parts of the business and at three different levels. I experienced working in a market (a single country), across a region (like Europe) and at a global level, looking at the whole business. I worked in Consumer Healthcare, Manufacturing and Corporate Tax. To experience all of these different things in a three-year timeframe was an incredible challenge, but really exciting. It gave me a rapid view of many business areas and I started to understand how everything fits together. It also allowed me to build skills like ‘learning agility’ and how to transfer knowledge across different environments. Plus I’ve now got an amazing three-year CV!

The people

Changing jobs, teams and business areas every year has meant I have met and interacted with a huge range of people across GSK. I have learnt something new from every manager I have had (which was more than just three in that time!). This has given me a strong and diverse network I can draw on for support or guidance. I have also been lucky enough to find two mentors along the way, as well as building many other informal relationships, giving me another dimension to my development. I would consider myself an extrovert (based on the various personality tests I have taken) and I am really motivated by interacting with people. The opportunity to build many relationships has been hugely energising – a great reason to come to work every day!

The soft skills

All this moving around means I had to get very good at adapting, building working relationships and absorbing a lot of knowledge in a short space of time. If you don’t do this quickly, you are probably not going to be very useful and this in turn reduces the amount of responsibility people are willing to give you. So, this has been a great opportunity to develop a strong set of interpersonal skills. Not only that, but you are building good communication skills on a daily basis, dealing with cultural diversity, all of which is a great foundation for future leadership training.

The wheels keep on turning...

So I learned a lot about the business, met lots of new people and developed a great set of skills. What happened next? Well, I’m on another rotation! I have been lucky enough to secure an international rotation, based in Rio de Janeiro (I know, how amazing is that?!). This new cultural challenge is testing all the things I learned on my other rotations and more. 

My rotations have been about more than just trying different jobs. I have accelerated my development, both professionally and personally, and I believe this has given me the perfect foundation for future career success. Wish me luck!