High-level interaction with business leaders boosts student employability

Today, students want value for money. Being able to secure a good job after graduation is now of paramount importance when choosing where to study. As a result, Vice-Chancellors need to focus a significant amount of time and attention on the employability agenda.

As Peter Viqueira of our Education Practice explains, our experiences at Odgers Berndtson have long suggested that high-level placements and interaction with businesses and external organisations really do help students find gainful employment. Particularly those less well-placed to organise those experiences for themselves.

The opportunity to spend a day with a chief executive can be life-changing.

Listen to Lakechia Jeanne, who was studying biomedical science at Hull University when she won a place on the first UK CEOx1Day in 2016. “It was an incredible experience. I was paired with Ian Filby CEO of DFS, and our matching was perfect, as he had studied chemistry at university.”

“I was really able to understand how he used science to create a unique career path and grow in his field.”

Lakechia has recently started in working in Government Policy. She also founded an Initiative called GirlsInScience.co.uk, connecting scientists to work with schools to change perceptions of science careers, particularly for young women and girls.

Challenging selection

Another UK winner, Vikesh Mistry, was studying business entrepreneurship and innovation at De Montfort University. He was paired with Haydn Mursell, CEO of Kier Group, an engineering and construction company.

“The CEOx1Day process was extremely rigorous and comprised of multiple elements including a competency-based interview, political discussion, online tests and a team challenge.”

Vikesh is now on Kier’s graduate scheme, working in marketing.

There are many such stories, not just in the UK but, since 2013, but across our firm internationally.

University ‘CEOs’

Every year, one Vice-Chancellor also engages as a participating CEO. Last year, Professor Edward Peck of Nottingham Trent University was our inaugural higher education ‘CEO’.

This year, we have Professor Mary Stuart, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lincoln, supporting the scheme.

Global growth

This isn’t just a UK story. Odgers Berndtson is now running CEOx1Day in 13 countries across our global network. This includes Canada, Singapore, Spain, Brazil and South Africa.

The CEOs tell us they enjoy an unusual opportunity to engage very directly with a young person interested, but not otherwise connected, to them or their company. More are taking part too. In the UK, the number doubled between 2014 and 2016 and this rose by a further 20% this year.

Open to applications

CEOx1Day is now open to applications from undergraduates across the UK for the 2018 programme. Twenty leaders from organisations ranging from Visa, The Royal Mint and Sainsbury’s to Welsh Rugby and the Department for Transport will be taking part. 

Students have until the end of January 2019 to apply.  Those selected are paired with individual CEOs, to share a working day with them early in the new year.

Apply now