Q&A: BMW Financial Services’ Helen Ward
BMW Financial Services’ HR Director, Helen Ward talks talent acquisition and the company’s focus for the coming months
How do you source talent for your organisation?
For external recruitment our main focus is on our graduate, intern and apprentice pathway. We work with key partners to develop relationships with universities to find the best candidates possible. We introduced career ambassadors this year where existing students are trained to explain and promote our brand and values, and to give insight into available roles. This allows us to reach students that may not naturally think of a career with BMW. When COVID-19 restrictions lift, we plan to work with Formula Student as another way of reaching students with a passion for automotive.
With sites across the UK and Ireland, internal recruitment plays a large part in filling roles and providing development opportunities to build a career within BMW Group.
This year, we made use of digital platforms to help with the recruitment process. We introduced video interviewing and mobile optimised testing and shared site location videos on social media to show what it is like to work for us.
How many apprenticeships do you carry out per year?
This constantly varies – on the Farnborough campus we currently have around 16 apprentice roles that are either in progress or are being recruited into now. We offer various types of apprenticeships, from motor technicians (in our sister company on campus) to IT, accounting and operational customer services, so we don’t have to stick rigidly to the academic year to bring people onboard. We were trailblazers for the Motor Finance Standard Apprenticeship, introduced into the organisation in 2018.
What leadership development programmes do you run?
We offer a local 18-month programme called ‘Building Future Leaders’ to prepare people for management roles. We also collaborate with other BMW companies centrally to offer leadership programmes at every level of the organisation, such as ‘Get Ready’ to help support individuals onto the leadership career ladder, or ‘Fit for Leadership’ and ‘Experienced Leader’ for those already on it, to help them succeed in their careers. We also offer more tailored and topical programmes, such as ‘Health and Leadership’ and ‘Leading in the Digital Age’.
What strategies do you have for ensuring your employees are engaged at work?
We have a ‘working smarter not harder working’ philosophy, meaning employees can adapt their working day to fit around life activity. We also ensure competitive and fair pay and benefits, and offer a vast selection of training opportunities, including professional development in accredited qualifications.
Corporate social responsibility activities are encouraged, including paid leave for volunteering.
We keep employees engaged and aware of business activities and relevant bulletins through various communication channels, including weekly news summaries, confluence pages, town hall communications and vlogs or blogs from CEOs.
What is your key focus for the next six months and why?
We are currently in uncertain times due to the pandemic, so it’s important that we continue our position as a highly attractive employer through our reward offerings. We will maintain our focus on diversity and inclusion and identifying skills gaps required to support the business strategy, such as data analytics and digitalisation. We will also place emphasis on our leadership development to re-energise after the 2020 challenges and maintain engagement while continuing to work virtually and flexibly.