Set your cake makers to occasion and run to the garage for the last set of forecourt flowers because this week brings a date bigger than one featuring Barry White, Marilyn Monroe and the Star Wars theme being played by the London PhilharmoniC.
It’s Gradconsult’s fourth birthday, and we sat down with the MD of GC, Rebecca Fielding, to talk all things consultery from past, present and future.
When did you first have the idea of Gradconsult?
“The right place at the right time”
Like all the best ideas there was never a grand plan. After I had my daughter Elizabeth I was working part time as a people development manager at Sheffield Hallam University. A few business acquaintances got in touch and asked if I could collaborate on some consultancy and project work. Hallam confirmed it was fine and I went ahead. It wasn’t too long afterwards that I realised I was earning more from that work than my part time job so I decided to give it a go. I was in the right place at the right time when things really started to change in the industry and there was great demand for my expertise.
Has there been a moment that made you realise Gradconsult had arrived/was real?
“Proper emails and coffee pods”
There have been several. One of the early ones was getting proper @gradconsult emails. Also when the website was finished with official branding… that was a really proud moment. I was only disappointed you can’t have a ribbon cutting for a website; we had a brew instead. You can chart the growth of Gradconsult through the office equipment. From the kitchen table at home, via a kettle and fridge, to a flat screen TV and posh coffee maker that uses the little pods, it’s been quite an evolution. Of course taking on the first employee was huge and everyone who’s joined us since has been amazing!
(The full GC squad. professionals one and all)
How many universities has Gradconsult worked with now?
“We might well work with them all”
So far we’ve worked with more than 35 of the UK’s 163 universities, so just over 20%, which is amazing and it is growing all the time. It might only be a half day of training or an entire graduate employability strategy but within the next six years, when GC turns ten, I hope we might have worked with the majority of them in some capacity. One of our most fun projects this year and last has been the development of the careers service ‘mystery shopper’ service which leading services have embraced and helped us to develop. And of course through our continued work and courses with AGCAS we’ve met hundreds of practitioners from every institution across the UK.
And employers on the other side of the fence?
‘’Global and local’’
Hundreds so far! Small and large, technical and generalist, global and local. We have worked with employers of all shapes, sizes and sectors helping them to attract, recruit, train and keep the best people for them. We’ve also seen our work in this area develop into broader engagement, culture, leadership development and coaching work which once again was never planned but has simply been a response to client needs. We have lots more exciting developments coming in this area.
What makes GC different?
“Tell us the need and we’ll tell you how we can help”
A couple of things. Firstly the depth of credibility, knowledge and experience in the team. We aren’t training swathes of people and sending them out while charging clients at the same time. We have people who know what they’re doing because they have already achieved a great deal in their professional careers. Also they’ve worked with both employer and university clients and have a unique insight to offer, whilst knowing how to communicate and work with both sets of clients. We don’t have a fixed product list or a ‘thing’ we try to sell. Our approach is much more flexible and tailored. We say “talk to us about your problem and we will talk about how we can help”. Or even point clients towards people we trust who might be able to help even more than we could. We’re about solving the issue rather than selling our most recent product.
What is your proudest Gradconsult moment?
There have been a lot of moments. Probably one of the proudest was winning the AGR supplier contribution award in 2014. GC was only two years old and to win a national award against some prestigious and well established supplier organisations was a huge moment for us. Plus I got to put on my posh frock and drink some fizz! Which I’m always up for.
(A few more have been added since!)
What's the future of Gradconsult both in work and ambition?
“We have the knowledge and the people”
It’s as grand as a piano in a pompadour wig! We’re continuing to grow in terms of clients, work, knowledge and we’re always looking to bring more people into GC towers itself. Our Talentconsult brand has had a soft launch this year to reflect our broader employer work and we expect to see that grow as the demand increases. There will be an increased focus on apprenticeships and to make sure we stay ahead of the curve, and actually we’ve recently written an employer's guide to the apprenticeship levy. We think it’s going to be a big part of the talent landscape in the future. Employability will continue to be a key pillar in UK universities’ strategies, as will more innovative employer engagement, as both become an increasingly important factor in student choice. All of which adds us to the next four years being a busy and exciting time for us.
If Gradconsult had a motto, what would it be?
Do good stuff and do it really, really well. Or in Latin if you prefer, Quid bonum effercio facere, et quidem tam vere. (credit to google translate)
I want to say a huge thank you to our clients, our amazing team, our friends and anyone who has helped out, recommended us or given their time. Watch this space for the amazing future of GC!