Travel restrictions, lockdown or working from home have not stopped our global learning programmes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The seventh edition of the BAT Grad Academy, which finished earlier this month, brought together our largest set of global graduates to date in a fully virtual environment. The 239 grads from 51 markets were, over three weeks, challenged with new business topics, refreshed leadership modules and exciting interactive sessions. More than 50 BAT senior leaders including members of our Management Board shared knowledge and insights, as did a host of external speakers.
The Grad Academy is the formal learning experience of BAT’s Global Graduate programme, which accelerates the commercial acumen and strategic thinking of our grads and supports them to build the right capabilities as future leaders.
A key element in redesigning and adapting the academy to a virtual environment was ensuring the strong points from previous editions were retained. To achieve this, the team focused on addressing top priorities from our A Better Tomorrow company purpose, our new ethos and leadership capabilities. This translated into modules on topics such as resilience, self-awareness and personality, personal influence and feedback.
To keep up with the dynamic pace of our business, new business sessions on digital marketing, circular economy and New Categories product design were introduced.
Simi Dubb, Group Head of Talent Development & Inclusion, said: “We are very excited to see the positive impact and outcome of our first virtual Grad Academy, with 95% of Grad attendees finding the content relevant, and 100% positive they will be more effective in their role post-academy. This is an important stepping-stone that proves how quickly we can adapt to the development needs of our employees and the current reality. It has been amazing to see the grads so engaged during the sessions, expressing their curiosity and knowledge in front of our senior leaders; and how easily they formed strong relationships while physically distant from each other.”
During the academy, the grads participated in two dynamic business simulations where they practiced teamwork, quick decision making, agile collaboration and strategic thinking. On week two, they had the opportunity to experience an R&D-focused session with our Formula 1 motorsport partners McLaren Racing, as well as a virtual tour of the McLaren Technology Centre.
The grads also had the chance to network and get to know each other better in a speed networking session, talent Show and closing awards event, the ‘GRADDYs’.