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The Happy Secondee: Seasonal Reflections from the C.O.O.

debI approach Christmas 2014 with 9 weeks into my 12 month secondment.  I wanted to take the opportunity, almost at the turn of the year, to give some reflections on the experience, the work and connections.

As Head of Social Mobility at KPMG, my team and I have been focused on working internally with specialist teams and the business to help improve access to employment in the firm.  We’ve concentrated on increasing the variety of routes into KPMG, working with partner organisations, schools and colleges and tracking our performance.  The connection between KPMG and the SMF got closer when started to work together in 2013.  We share a common set of beliefs about improving opportunities for high achieving young people from less advantaged backgrounds and the need to address the lack of diversity in the elite professions in the UK, for the benefit of the individuals, employers and UK plc.

As a very large recruiter of future professionals, we recognise that we need to work with others; to contribute to the knowledge, expertise and resource of each partner to meet our ambitions to reduce inequality in the education and the labour market.  The SMF provides knowledge, focus and specialist support to employers, schools and students and the glue needed to keep all parties working together.  So I was delighted to have the opportunity to work in a key partner organisation as C.O.O. for the SMF for 12 months.  I hope to contribute to the organisation at an important time in its development. 

The staff team has grown significantly in the last 12 months and there are ambitious regional growth plans to meet local needs around the country-the first office outside London opened in Manchester in September, Glasgow will open in 2015.  I am working with David Johnston and the team to build the processes to help the SMF both to grow and maintain the essence of what makes the SMF the SMF everywhere it operates: its values, passion for the work and approach.  I can’t help but add a ‘client-in-the-house’ perspective as well – that seems to be welcome for now!

I have been made to feel really welcome and feel at home more quickly than I might have imagined before I took up the secondment.  I am in the very fortunate position of being able to both to share experience and learn every day.  I spent my first month learning more about the work from the inside and talking to everyone across the team, and have now taken on management of the London team and am moving on to focus on the further development and implementation of HR, client and management processes.  In turn KPMG is providing support to build capacity in a key partner organisation working on an important social issue, and at learning first-hand about the key aspects of sustainable growth for its community partners and the role the firm plays.

Yesterday I was discussing the choice of year-planner for the wall, the fire emergency plan, performance management systems and the numbers of students who have already applied to the 2015 programme.  However, my personal highlight has to be the arrival of the recycling sacks from our landlord – I left the office a happy secondee. 

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