Accelerating my career — taking next steps with Sopra Steria
by Conor Watters, Junior PMO — Regional Government
I’m a Junior PMO Analyst in Belfast, and I’ve recently joined the Sopra Steria Graduate Programme. Previously, I was a graduate project manager with Hewlett Packard Enterprise working on a range of hardware and software infrastructure projects. I am really looking forward to learning and working with the Regional Government team in Belfast and this short blog outlines my experiences to date in my new role.
The beginning: Edinburgh
Monday 4thJuly 2016 finally arrived — a date to remember for me and 32 other graduates beginning their career with Sopra Steria in various streams including Project Management, Java, Testing, Business Analysis, UI, SAS and GIS.
The induction was a great start to joining the company. ‘Day One’ allowed us to gain an in-depth overview of our new company — which markets we are active in, the services and solutions we provide and highlighted the opportunities for us to develop within the company. But, more importantly, it allowed us to get to know our future colleagues on a personal level as these will be who we’ll work alongside for years to come.
There was a social element too — and it was great to have an opportunity to get to know new colleagues in a more relaxed environment, as well as to talk informally to various managers away from the office.
There was a real focus on enabling us as new starters to meet a range of current staff and previous graduates. I learned a lot from asking questions about their roles and the clients that they are working with — a great benefit as they were able to give examples of real-world problems that Sopra Steria solve. During this on-boarding week, we also attended numerous instructor-led courses such as Agile Methodologies, Testing and Corporate Structure — a great foundation to understand more about the way Sopra Steria works and its approach to client engagement. Towards the end of the week, everyone received an overview of their next eight weeks in terms of scheduled training. Mine is a mix of on-the-job learning and understanding the core project management fundamentals taught within the Association of Project Management Professionals study guide.
As we said goodbye to our new colleagues and friends and I realised that I had successfully completed my first working week as an employee of Sopra Steria!
Next step: a warm Belfast welcome
As with all new starters, we returned to our contractual offices for our second week of work. For me that’s Belfast and the office is located right in the city centre and a 5-minute walk from the train station. The first few days focused on getting to know my new Belfast colleagues and more about our business in Northern Ireland. As I was being introduced I thought “I am never going to be able to remember everyone’s name!” But thankfully, it’s only taken me five weeks to overcome this. The Belfast office is home to around 80 people, but there are quite a few based on client sites so I am still getting to know new people who only occasionally work in the office.
When I was in Edinburgh during the on-boarding week I learned that the Belfast office and staff had the reputation for a sweet tooth and that any time they visited there were always cakes, buns and biscuits on offer. I found this very much the case! In the short spell I have been in the Belfast office we buy buns and cakes to celebrate pretty much anything — whether it’s a promotion, leaving party or someone’s birthday and just in case we are running short on these events there is a monthly bake-off between members of staff for bragging rights in the office. There have been rumours of a graduate bake-off happening in the near future, but I see myself eating cakes rather than making them!
As I continued to find my feet within the project management team I was gradually given an overview of each regional government client we work with and invited to attend meetings regarding upcoming projects which gave a realistic view of the projects I would be getting involved in. These face-to-face meetings are a great benefit as they allow me to see where various departments and teams within Sopra Steria fit and come together to complete projects, they are also a good way to meet the key decision-makers from a customer perspective and introduce yourself.
Everyone has been very friendly, helpful and welcoming. I’ve really valued the many offers of support from across the team and guidance to help build my new career. I’ve had some key pieces of advice:
- make the most of any opportunity that presents itself
- be responsible for driving my own career
- don’t be afraid to contribute by sharing ideas or thoughts on promoting or enhancing Sopra Steria. It’s great to know that at such an early stage in my career and being so new into the business that my opinion counts.
I’ve been assigned work on two different local government projects and I’m really looking forward to getting involved and understanding these accounts in more detail. Project Management is very much a learning through experience stream, reading books and attending courses is beneficial — but you really learn by doing.
I’m also really impressed with Sopra Steria’s policy on developing and enhancing employees’ talents by encouraging attendance at workshops and training courses to attain professional certification. I’m attending a 3-day Project Management course in mid-September and I am looking forward to meeting up with the other project management new starters from other organisations, while enhancing my knowledge and skills in this field.
My first six weeks at Sopra Steria have flown by — it only seems like yesterday I was travelling to Edinburgh for my induction. In this time, I’ve really settled into my new surroundings and role and am extremely excited for the future — on a personal level for continuing to develop my project management skills and for Sopra Steria as a company continuing to work on innovative and exciting solutions for our clients.
If you, or someone you know, has graduated recently and looking for exciting opportunities, why not take a look at this year’s Graduate Recruitment programme?
Originally published at blog.soprasteria.co.uk on September 1, 2016.