Career track: Coleen Paterson, graduate team manager, Standard Life

For the next seven months, Personnel Today will be continuing to follow the
careers of two HR professionals at financial services company Standard Life.
This week, we hear the latest report from graduate Coleen Paterson, who last
time out reported on her promotion to graduate team manager (Personnel Today,
10 June). Here she outlines the challenges of her new role.

I have settled well into my role as graduate team manager, and have enjoyed
the challenge of leading a strong team. No-one warns you that managing others
will be as eye-opening, entertaining and stressful as it actually is, but they
also don’t tell you how rewarding it can be when you get it right. I have
discovered a new level of appreciation for all the management theories I
studied a few years ago.

Over the past few years, we have enjoyed a significant rise in the number of
graduate applications to Standard Life’s training programmes. In the world of
online recruitment, I suspect some graduates have developed a ‘cut and paste’
mentality, hedging their bets by applying to a number of graduate recruiters
without being selective about their applications. Therefore, the rise in
applications has not always led to an equivalent rise in the quality of

This has resulted in three issues for my team to overcome: we have more
applications to manage, we have to make clear to the students what our
expectations are of them, and we have an increasing challenge in trying to
attract the ‘best’ candidates.

Attracting the ‘best’ graduates is what every graduate recruiter seeks to
do, but I believe the ‘best’ are those that are right for your organisation, so
there is much more to consider than just their academic qualifications.

Standard Life has additional challenges in attracting the best graduates as
we are a Scottish-based pensions company, which some may view as unappealing.
It is our challenge to convey to students that Standard Life is a great
organisation to work for, and that a graduate training programme here is a good
start to any young person’s career. Having worked for the company for three
years, enjoying my training and gaining a breadth of experience, I am good
example of that.

Since writing this column, Coleen has landed a new job as HR consultant
at Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) and has resigned from Standard Life

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