Life before LG
If you’re like me, you’ve been asked since you were a teenager “what are you going to do with your life?” I still don’t know how to answer that question. My university career was unusual in that I was lucky enough to have experiences such as studying for a semester in Valencia (Spain) and doing a 6-month internship in Amsterdam (Netherlands). This taste of living abroad got me hooked (I’m from the UK), and as university came to a close, I knew I wanted to work abroad again.
I was very impressed with the graduate application process. The Situational Judgement Test is not intimidating and actually gives you a great feel for the culture of integrity and togetherness at Virgin Media and Liberty Global. The online interview was more challenging, and the assessment centre was weirdly enjoyable! The activities were challenging but interesting, and gave an insight into an industry that I knew little about by placing you in hypothetical situations involving issues that people in the organisation might have to deal with regularly. Each member of staff I met came across as happy and welcoming. By the end of the day, I knew this was an organisation I wanted to be a part of.
I was offered a place on the graduate scheme about a week after the assessment centre. This was an incredible feeling for me, as I had applied as an International Business graduate; and many of the applicants I met at the assessment centre studied STEM degrees. I have since learned that the Technology & Innovation scheme is about much more than just technical or industry knowledge. It’s about relationship management, curiosity and proactivity.
And so, it began…
The first two days of on-boarding were hosted in Liberty Global’s Schipol offices and the Ziggo Dome. These were extremely fun days filled with interesting activities and some seriously interesting talks from some of the most senior members of both Liberty Global and Virgin Media; including Liberty Global’s Head of Strategy, the CTO Enrique Rodriguez and of course Lutz Schuler, CEO of Virgin Media. In the evenings the fun continued, as the second day closed off with a boat tour (accompanied by alcohol (and pizza)) around Amsterdam’s beautiful canals and a few late-night bars in the City centre. The final day of our on-boarding took place at the Liberty Global Technology Summit, which gave us an insight into the Telecoms industry better than any presentation ever could. We were able to converse with a range of organisations, from those that produce the fibre-optic cables that transmit data across our network, to VR Videogame developers on the forefront of their industry. We were able to watch talks from the CEO of Formula-E to the CEO and Chairman of Liberty Global – which to a graduate who hadn’t even started yet, was pretty astounding. The three day on-boarding experience was pretty mind-blowing! It was a perfect blend of grandeur and hospitality and left me feeling that I have joined a technologically advanced, innovative and interesting company.
My first rotation
The Technology and Innovation graduate scheme has four, 6-month rotations within different functions around the division. At the time of writing, I am just two weeks into my second rotation, but my first rotation was in the Central Business Analysis Team. This was a steep learning curve (in a good way)! I was welcomed to my new large and culturally rich team, whose nationalities stretched from Iran, to India and China, and this incredible group of people made me feel included from day one and made my first six months such great fun. Part of my responsibilities were the production of 2 key reports each month that provide a performance update on all of our operating companies, across a set of standardised Key Performance Indicators. The report is shared with senior leaders across the central organisation including the CEO himself. To be able to produce content that is seen by the CEO of a company in your first month is a great responsibility and is testament to the trust Liberty Global puts in its graduates.
I have heard some great stories from grads working on projects such as Cloud Gaming and Smart Wi-Fi, to working with teams ranging from Product or Network Strategy to Project Management. Wherever your interests lie, there will be an opportunity to pursue it here.
During this first six months, it is your soft skills that will develop the fastest. Learning how to manage stakeholders, navigate the business, build relationships, and how to actually get things moving in such a large organisation will be your biggest challenge at first. Although to some, this may seem daunting, let me assure you that there is more than enough support around you to help you overcome any challenge. Expanding your network early on is strongly encouraged, and you will be surprised how open senior leaders are to be interacting with graduates. In my first month I was having coffee with Vice Presidents and Managing Directors, learning about their past experiences and receiving advice. These business leaders are so approachable and I’m still having the occasional coffee with some of them today.
For those who like to work with autonomy, are proactive, and enjoy a challenge, this is the place for you. As a graduate, to a large extent you are expected to create your own opportunities, try new things and make your own mistakes. Personal and professional development are highly encouraged, and already I have learned a titanic amount. From learning to write Python code to attending a course on ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, there are a multitude of opportunities to develop yourself. As part of the graduate scheme, there are set workshops that you must attend that focus on building up your hard and soft skills from commercial awareness to becoming the complete presenter. There is even an innovation team, called SPARK, that will help you to develop your own ideas for improving the business from idea to commercialisation. To facilitate our development, the graduate leadership hosts regular “Breakfast with…” or “Lunch with…” events through which graduates can interact with and learn from senior leaders within Technology & Innovation. One of our graduates even organised a visit to the VodafoneZiggo Customer Care centre in Leeuwarden, so that we could see how employees on the front line ensure that our customers are receiving the best service possible.
Within our first 6 months at the company, we have been offered opportunities to travel internationally to visit operational companies, take relevant learning and development courses and pursue many activities that we find interesting.
Every six months, everything changes – I was able to make a request for what rotation I wanted to do next. I chose to work in the Product Quality team, ensuring that our products are functioning optimally, and helping our OpCos to ensure that customers receive a flawless service.
Starting a new role during the COVID-19 crisis has been different, to say the least, as I have had to meet my new team and conduct all meetings over WebEx. However, this has been made easier by daily catchups with teammates as well as my new manager, lots of coffees and regular exercise. What has really stood out to me over the past week has been how much significance has been placed on our personal wellbeing during this time. We have all been encouraged to take whatever time is necessary to take care of family members, children and our own mental health. As you can see from the pictures, we’re all trying to make the most of it. I am looking forward to heading back to the office, but more than that, I’m looking forward to my future within this organisation. There are opportunities around every corner, and it’s those who take them that get the best out of this scheme.