Olivia tells us about her Customer Operations summer placement experience
I was on the 2012 Customer Operations Summer Placement Cohort, placed in British Gas Business Commercial Services (BGBCS). BGBCS does what it says on the tin – they carry out services (fixing boilers for example) for commercial business customers. Apart from two very fun days where I shadowed some of our gas and electrical engineers in the field (visiting a waste incineration plant to carry out electrical servicing wasn’t the most glamorous day of my life, but it was very interesting!) I worked in the Bradford and Rotherham offices, in the People Team (otherwise known as HR).
I led a project to design and roll-out a ‘Development and Performance Toolkit’ to our front line staff – the engineers in the vans, and the people on the phones. Previously, these teams hadn’t had the opportunity to have structured and constructive development conversations with their managers – we wanted to change this! We wanted team members to be able to identify their goals – and how they were going to get there.
I brought together working groups of team managers and team members to help me design our product. Then the scary bit; rolling it out to the business.
First – I had to get the support of the business – which meant presenting my project to the leadership team of the business unit – a fairly daunting task! But I soon learnt how willing these managers were to make time in their busy day to meet with, and listen to, me – something I have since found to be true throughout the business.
Next, I ran workshops with all the relevant team managers, which taught them how to use this new tool we were equipping them with. Often these individuals had been in the business for 20 years or so – so it felt a little strange to be teaching them something – but my line manager supported me throughout the whole process. I received coaching on how to design and run workshops, and as a result felt prepared for everything.
Taking part in the summer placement meant that the transition into my graduate role felt much smoother – although I was starting a completely different job I had a much better knowledge of our business and where I fit into that. The summer placement made me much more confident too – and ready to dive into the challenges of my first grad placement.
As for advice I would give to incoming summer placement students – don’t let any opportunity pass you by. Being in a small office meant I spoke to literally everyone – sitting next to a customer service representative one day and a business leader the next. Living in Leeds for a summer with 3 other summer placement students is an experience I’ll always remember. I promise that if you grab all the opportunities given to you, you’ll have a fantastic time!