gradireland Breakfast Masterclass Series-Talent Development Trends

The latest in the gradireland series of Breakfast Masterclasses was held in Dublin’s Gibson Hotel on Friday May 10th. Entitled ‘Talent Development Trends-design, delivery and data’ the event brought together over 100 of Ireland’s leading graduate recruiters to discuss this particularly topical subject. gradireland were thrilled to partner with the Irish Institute of Training & Development (IITD) on the content for this Masterclass, which was kindly sponsored by SHL

Following a welcome from gradireland Director Mark Mitchell, the first speaker of the day was Keara Dunne, Director of Leadership, Learning & Talent with Kerry Group.

Keara spoke about Kerry’s HR Strategy (2018-2022) which is focused on a vision of enabling “a thriving environment where everyone can be at their personal best.” One of the cores of this strategy is talent development and Keara spoke about Kerry’s Graduate Development Programme, which has an intensive two-year structure, starting with the graduate coming on board on a full time basis with real responsibilities from day one, then developing professional, personal and leadership skills before examining their opportunities for career progression. The programme also includes networking with current and past graduates and has the backing of senior leadership within Kerry Group. Graduates can avail of the support of a line manager and mentor, enabling them to build their career in a truly mobile, and truly global, fashion. Keara also spoke about their graduate recruitment timelines from pre-campaign preparation to attraction and marketing, recruitment and selection and assessment. The company also spoke about the value of a formal learning element for their graduate recruits that they have in place with the Irish Management Institute. Keara’s presentation finished with what the company has learned from their graduate recruitment experience, what is working and what isn’t and how they can organically sustain a programme which has recruited 174 graduates since 2016 with another 50+ set to come on stream this year.

Next up was Sarah Madigan, Graduate Recruitment Manager with PwC. They have over 350 graduates across their three lines of service (assurance, tax, advisory) in seven offices nationwide. Their programme is built on three guiding principles. The ambition to recruit, train and retain and high volume of the right kind of graduate that will learn within the business. They aim to make the graduate scheme accessible to all students through technology, working on real projects and providing support via a ‘buddy’ system. They also aim for accountability through the global nature of their offering, which is linked to personal and professional development and feedback. The PwC programme is well established now and Sarah spoke on what the programme delivers for the business:

Recruitment and employer branding

  • Retention
  • Developing future business leaders
  • Client service and satisfaction
  • Peer-to-peer coaching
  • Senior leadership ‘buy in’ at every stage

In terms of challenges, PWC are facing similar issues to others in the graduate recruitment field; return on investment, time commitment and the pace and nature of changes in technology.

Panel discussion

(L-R) Laura Whitney, Georgina Hughes, Katie Kilcoyne and
Stefanie Morse

This was followed by a panel discussion, moderated by learning & development expert and fellow of the Irish Institute of Training & Development (IITD) Eamonn Eaton. The discussion focused on the graduate development experience from the perspective of four companies and present on the panel were: Laura Whitney, Accenture; Stefanie Morse, Glanbia; Georgina Hughes, EY; Katie Kilcoyne, Jacobs Engineering.

Next up was Karen McLoughlin, Managing Consultant with career assessment specialists SHL, she spoke on using data to support on-boarding and development. SHL have a a bespoke system for graduate recruiters to help manage, refine and optimise their graduate development programme. Sarah spoke about the importance of gaining the right insights in order to predict and drive better performance. She spoke about the skills that employers want now, and how they compare to what they were a decade ago, which was interesting.


  1. Organising and executing
  2. Analysing and interpreting
  3. Supporting and cooperating
  4. Interacting and presenting


  1. Interacting and presenting
  2. Creating and conceptualising
  3. Adapting and coping
  4. Organising and executing

She then showcased the SHL Graduate Development Coach dashboard and what it can offer to organisations. For more information click here.

The Masterclass finished up with our second panel discussion on the day’s subject, again moderated by Eamonn Eaton. On the panel were Karen McLoughlin of SHL, Keara Dunne from Kerry Group and Sarah Madigan from PwC.

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