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Graduate schemes: Bentley Motors Limited - part 1

In this epic two part interview, we look at the life and experiences of a graduate who's career started through a graduate scheme. In this section we have a look at how our grad got to where she is today.

Name: Claire Hawkins

Company: Bentley Motors Limited

Job Title: HR Development Officer

Job Role: Responsible for the Graduate, Industrial Placement and Summer Placement programmes at Bentley Motors Limited.

Professional Philosophy that live by: Always aim to do your best, work hard and to “right first time” quality standards. Also treat others as you would expect to be treated. 

Tell us more about your role at Bentley?

I am responsible for the attraction, recruitment and development of our Graduate, Industrial Placement and Summer Placement trainees. Working closely with the business, my role is to identify exceptional candidates that have the potential to develop into our future leaders and technical experts; and to continue the development of our trainee programmes to ensure that we offer best in class programmes.

How did you get to the position you are in? 

I joined Bentley as a Graduate on the HR programme, during which I undertook a number of placements within our HR department learning all about recruitment, development, talent management, HR operations, industrial relations and employee engagement. From day one I was given value adding projects and quickly built up a cross functional network, working with people from across the business including Manufacturing, Engineering, Sales & Marketing, Finance and IT. The experience I gained on this programme was invaluable and helped to develop my understanding of the different departments and skill sets required within the business. On completion of my programme I moved into a HR Operational role supporting the Finance, IT and HR teams and, most recently, joined the Recruitment and Talent team taking up my current role as Development Officer.

Has your career path run smoothly?

It’s been a steep learning curve but no two days are the same and that’s what makes it interesting. There will always be challenges to face but this is how we learn and improve ourselves.  When I started university I didn’t know where my career aspirations lay or what opportunities may be available. However, as I undertook the different modules of my course, I discovered a passion for HR and from there I started to identify where I could gain work experience to develop my knowledge.

Tell us about the challenges that you have faced in your career?

My degree is in Business and IT.  I found an interest in HR but my previous work experience had been in retail, so when I joined Bentley I knew I had a lot to learn about the industry.  You don’t necessarily have to be a car fanatic to work here but it is an inspiring place to work and it is easy to be proud of the products we produce and want to learn more.  The Graduate network was a fantastic way to do this and I often spent time with my Engineering and Manufacturing peers working with them to understand their roles and the work they were doing.  Even now, I make sure I maintain my network and to look for opportunities to understand more about our future products and explore the key goals of each of our business departments.

What about the achievements and highlights that you are most proud of?

I’m proud to be part of a HR team that is focused on driving a high performing organisation and delivering best in class HR solutions. Our investment in trainees has remained solid and a recent highlight has been our 50 per cent increase in undergraduate trainees working across our business. A high proportion of these have returned on our graduate programme which is fantastic for our talent pipeline.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I am passionate about my job and the development of young people and so remain focused on the growth of trainee programmes at Bentley.  We are well known as a Manufacturing and Engineering company but we also offer great opportunities in commercial areas as well. I want to promote these areas and show that we are as equally committed to developing careers in Quality, Sales & Marketing, PR, Finance, IT and HR. 

What were your experiences of academia?

I always knew that I wanted to go to university but wasn’t entirely sure which area of industry I wanted to work in. That’s why I chose Business and IT, giving me a great understanding of wider business operations but also those essential life skills that you carry forward in any sector you choose to work in. It was here I learnt more about the HR industry and developed a real interest in people management and talent retention, an area I enjoy greatly and about which I am particularly passionate.