Moving on to The Hut Group

After my practice interview with Amanda in November I had a catch up with Valerie in December and February updating her with how my degree was going and progress on job applications. By this point I was waiting to hear back from 3 jobs after completing online assessments and video interviews. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful in those applications but I had one more to hear back from at The Hut Group for a merchandising supply chain role.

After 3 months of waiting I heard in April that I was to have an interview on the 18th. I contacted Valerie for advice and a practice interview if possible. Unfortunately Valerie was on holiday but gave me an email with some hints and general advice for interviews. Again Amanda, Valerie’s business partner, agreed to give me a mock telephone interview and gave me a list of things to prepare beforehand. This included making a PowerPoint presentation about the history of the company, its financial information, reasons for wanting the job and how I was suited to the job. This not only aided the mock interview process but it gave me a chance to figure out a plan in my head about the best method to tackle possible questions. The mock interview was invaluable as it gave me a confidence boost the day before the interview and allowed me to brush up on aspects that I needed to improve.

As a result of Valerie and especially Amanda’s help I was successful in securing the graduate job at The Hut Group and I start in August. Without their expertise and advice, the interview would have been more difficult as many of the things I had practised with Amanda came up in the real interview.

Since receiving the good news I have had a phone call with Valerie again to catch up and give me some words of wisdom not only about the world of work but about tackling exams in my final year at Birmingham. I am scheduled to have a final face to face meeting with Valerie and Amanda in June.

My ALMP experience has been great and I cannot thank Valerie and Amanda for their support and advice during what has been a stressful year juggling the work load of final year as well as applying for jobs. Valerie has always been an email away and is always quick to respond and if she has been unavailable then she has put me in contact with her colleagues such as Amanda to help me out. The scheme has been extremely beneficial not only to help me to secure a graduate job but also it has given me a confidence boost to succeed in my future career.



First meeting with the BBC’s HR Director

Within the first week back at University for my final year I already had an email from Valerie’s Secretary Lottie arranging my first meeting. In mid-October I went to the BBC offices in Birmingham where I was greeted by Valerie’s business partner Amanda Brettell. Amanda showed me around the offices and we had a quick chat about uni and my career aspirations whilst Valerie was finishing off a meeting with a client.

Although I was apprehensive, Valerie instantly put me at ease by welcoming me with a big smile. Continue reading

Hands-on experience at Amey (Blog 3)

Back in Oxford

I was invited back down to Oxford so I could learn more about the different roles within HR. My visit was extremely exciting and I was able to spend the morning with the frontline team who answer all the telephone calls and emails directed to the HR department. I learnt a lot from the frontline team, and was able to listen to the calls first hand via the training headset they use to train staff how to answer the variety of queries they are asked. I was surprised at just how varied the phone calls could be, from reference requests to telemarketing etc. A member of the team also went through the case management system and how emails and telephone queries were categorised and logged. I really enjoyed sitting with the frontline team and believe that if I want to really understand HR I would have to sit on the frontline to gain the breadth of knowledge and experience needed to be a good HR generalist. Continue reading

Call, Meeting & Oxford (Blog 1)

First Phone Call

My mentoring first started in early October when Valerie’s Personal Assistant Charlotte emailed me to introduce herself and arrange my first phone call with Valerie. I was a little nervous about the phone call but I had no need. We introduced each other and discussed what we both wanted to get out of the mentoring scheme. Valerie suggested that I do some research into the Dave Ulrich model, which they use at Amey Services and talked about me potentially visiting her office in Oxford.

First Meeting

The first time I met Valerie was in early November at the University of Birmingham, as she was due to give a talk to a group of MBA students. We met for coffee with Kerrie before hand and I was invited to join a round table panel, giving me the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about Valerie’s role and the Amey services. Afterwards, I attended the talk and learnt a lot about HR, for example, idea staff ratios, the key aims to providing a successful HR service and also the challenges that HR face. Valerie shared her personal experiences of how she got to her current position and explained that it will be hard work, but also worth it, and to take any opportunities that you are given.

My visit to Oxford

In mid-November I was able to go to Oxford to spend the day with Valerie and other members of the HR team. We had a mentoring session first thing in which Valerie showed me the Intranet system that all the employees use to request holidays and submit claim expenses etc. We also went over some of the company statistics that Valerie uses to identify areas that may need improvement or equally are working well. I then got to meet the general enquiry team and learn about the SAP system they use to log and take calls and emails. After lunch I met with the recruitment team who went over my CV for me and gave me interview and application tips. I was able to visit some of the other sectors within the HR team and learnt a lot about the different roles. Afterwards, I was invited to attend a CIPD conference at Oxford Brookes where Valerie was key note speaker. Valerie’s personal assistant is currently studying for her CIPD qualification and so I learnt a lot from her and from attending the event, such as the types of assignments and what the course entailed. At the end of the day I had a catch up session with Valerie on the train, as she was also coming back to Birmingham. She gave me some great advice on the types of questions I can ask to impress in an interview that would also help me to understand the HR system of other companies. I loved my day at Oxford and learnt so much, but also was able to help their recruitment team by informing them about ways that other companies were recruiting graduates and giving my opinion on the use of social media to recruit new employees. I will hopefully be returning to Oxford again soon.

Business Advice and a Great Intro (Blog 1)


I’m Zeba, part of Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme (ALMP) and I am being mentored by Valerie Hughes-D’Aeth, Group HR Director of Amey. I joined the ALMP to gain experience into Human Resources (HR) and I wanted guidance, experience and knowledge from the best.

My first conversation with Valerie was over the phone (due to our infamous power cut last term, my original meeting had been cancelled). At first I was extremely nervous about my conversation with Valerie but had no reason to be. I had a great time talking with Valerie about her time at university, jobs and how she first started her career as a retail graduate with Selfridges. In turn Valerie asked me about university life, my career objectives and what I would like to achieve form the ALMP.

Continue reading