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Elevating careers: insights from Louise O’Connell on Places for People's Emerging Talent Programme

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Places for People’s mission is to create Communities everyone is proud to call home. We do this by developing happy, healthy and inclusive Communities for Customers across the UK. With an eye on the future, the Emerging Talent Programme provides you with opportunities to flourish, thrive and grow. Our Emerging Talent Programme is now hiring between the 28th of February and closes on the 10th of April.

We explore firsthand the impact of the Places for People Emerging Talent programme through the lens of Louise O’Connell who joined us in 2019 as a Housing Management Graduate. She is now a Safeguarding Manager.

Louise, let's dive into your experience with the Emerging Talent programme. What advice do you have for those applying or thinking about applying?

“When applying, really emphasise why Community matters to you. Showcase why you want to work in a business that puts this at the forefront of everything it does.”

Great point. And for those just starting the programme, any tips?

“Absolutely. Utilise the connections made across the business in the Emerging Talent Cohort. It's great to have connections across the business. Also, take any opportunity to shadow other parts of the business or other roles. This will massively help with the overall understanding of the business and show you different progression routes and career options.”

Why would you recommend this programme to your peers or others considering similar opportunities?

“Places for People is such a big organisation, with so many different roles. The career paths are so varied, and there's the opportunity to progress or sidestep if you find another role that better suits your skills or interests. The Emerging Talent programme itself just amplifies that support to get to where you want to go. Joining a graduate scheme where each role has a positive impact on a Community or person is a great opportunity. The overall culture of Places for People is positive and friendly, making it a great place to work.”

How has participating in the Emerging Talent programme influenced your professional development?

“As part of the programme, you are provided with additional training to help develop you as a future leader. For example, our cohort had a session with a group executive director to understand her career journey and advice on how she has moved into her role. This was really insightful and great at highlighting good leadership qualities. In addition to this, the programme helps you move to an innovative mindset, supports you to challenge existing processes and services, and really bring ideas to the table, through the setting of Graduate Cohort Projects such as the CEO challenge.”

In what ways do you feel the programme contributed to your career progression since graduation?

“Leadership training and skill sessions delivered really helped me move to a management mindset. The setting of the graduate projects also helps with the development of management skills and showcasing skills across the business.”

How did the programme facilitate networking opportunities, and have these connections been beneficial in your career?

“The induction week was a key networking opportunity that makes a huge difference when starting at Places for People. It really helps to get to know other people well who are in the same position as you and form connections across a large organization. These connections still help me in my day-to-day role, despite doing different roles and working within different departments, even now 4+ years later. Following the induction week, there are frequent graduate cohort catch-ups, with your cohort year and mixed-year catch-ups. All of them are just as valuable to share experiences and offer support. There are also networking opportunities with colleagues outside of the Emerging Talent Cohorts, for example when working on the Emerging Talent projects with senior leaders. This is a great opportunity to again form connections and look at opportunities such as mentoring.”

What were the most valuable lessons or skills you acquired during the programme?

“Innovation – told to always think outside the box, what can be done differently. ‘We want fresh perspective’. This was a key mindset to move to when working in a large and ever-changing organization. This has helped me develop in my own role and not be afraid to challenge existing processes to drive efficiency. This has definitely helped me progress and develop new skills.”

Any specific achievements or projects you worked on during the programme that you are particularly proud of?

“I was part of the Graduate CEO Project, and I was a HQN Next Generation Finalist in 2021. I was also shortlisted for the Woman in Housing Award in 2022 under the 'Woman of the Future' category.”

Were there opportunities to tailor aspects of the programme to your specific interests or focus areas?

“Definitely, the regular check-ins with the Early Career teams were a key opportunity to reflect and seek support to get the most out of the programme by looking at specific areas where further skills, shadowing, or experience would be beneficial. My programme was a key example of this as my planned programme was two years of customer-facing roles. Although I loved that side of the programme, I wanted to develop my project management and strategic skills. I spoke with the Early Careers team around this, and they helped facilitate this and move me into a Project Management-based role for year 2 of the programme.”

Louise’s journey through Places for People's Emerging Talent Programme is a testament to the enriching experiences and opportunities it offers. From emphasising the importance of Community to fostering innovation and creating lasting connections, the programme has truly shaped a successful career path. 

Ready to embark on your own journey? Explore the possibilities with Places for People's Emerging Talent Programme.

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