Which secondments have you offered MDS trainees?
Over the past 7 years that Syngenta has been taking MDS students, we have offered a range of secondments, based on the needs of the business at the time – from managing events, to trials, and regional sales to new technology projects – as well as a regular placement as Digital Communications Manager, responsible for managing our social channels and podcast, and e-marketing to a key customer group.
Secondees have worked in various teams, dependent on projects, and all have engaged with different parts of the company and had opportunities to explore the diverse functions on offer – from marketing to sales, technical and supply chain. There have also been visits to our R&D and manufacturing sites to understand how we bring products to market, and plenty of time out with customers to gain insights into their needs so we can better meet these. Pre-, during and post-secondment we have a dedicated secondment manager to answer any questions, conduct training and to work closely to identify development areas to ensure the trainee gets the best from the placement and that it sets them up for their future career path.
How do you prepare for a trainee’s arrival?
Ahead of the trainee arriving, we ensure we’ve filled out a secondment request form that clearly states the responsibilities and objectives of the role, and the learning objectives for the trainee. We meet with them and discuss what they’d like to achieve from the placement and how this fits with their future career goals. We ensure all the necessary IT equipment is available for the first day and create an induction plan for the first month to make sure they have met with all the key stakeholders and receive a comprehensive introduction to the business and to their areas of responsibility.
What has your experience of MDS trainees been?
We’re always amazed at the quality of secondees, how quickly they learn, their problem solving skills, ideas and willingness to try new things. They’re not afraid to challenge the status quo and where we’ve had a rolling placement, our digital communications have gone from strength to strength. Over the years we’ve recruited many of the trainees into full-time roles following MDS, and they have progressed through the business. We have learnt never underestimate what the secondees can achieve if you give them the opportunities!
What advice would you offer new MDS members?
Identify a role or project that lends itself to someone coming in, understanding quickly and making a real, measurable impact or achievement within 6 months. Make sure it is challenging and diverse and gives exposure to as much of the wider business as possible, and allow the secondee to shape the role in a way that allows them to develop their skills. This flexibility will allow you to really get the best from trainees, and it’s a great opportunity to get a new perspective from a pair of fresh eyes.