When you work in a niche field it can be difficult to hire experienced people who can jump right in. Specialised IT company Fenwick Software could have had that exact problem, but their ‘ground up’ approach to recruitment has kept staff loving work and skilling up each year.
Growing talent from the ground up
Brad Foot graduated from an IT degree at Swinburne in a time of great uncertainty. The world had just gone through a recession and the dotcom crash. While an IT degree would have practically guaranteed him a job before, Brad wasn’t so sure it would be the case for new grads. Larger companies had cancelled their graduate intakes that year and people he knew had seen their graduate job contracts ripped up.
Fenwick Software’s founder, Peter Fenwick took a different approach, seeing it as a long-term decision and hiring three Swinburne graduates, including Brad, who is now the Chief Operations Officer, and the best-man at his wedding, Dave, who is the Business Development Manager.
Brad Foot and his wife, Becky Norris, at their wedding. Brad’s best man, David Love, was in the same year at Swinburne and they both started at Fenwick Software in 2002.
In the time they have been there, Fenwick Software has hired about 50 Swinburne students from the Bachelor of Business Information Technology (Professional) and related course, the Bachelor of Accounting and Business Information Technology (Professional). The courses include two six-month or one 12-month work placement, which means graduates have the perfect mix of technical skill and experience working with clients.
‘The beauty of the course is the students get to spend time with us through a placement, and we get to see how they fit into the company. We give our placement students a lot of responsibility from day one. We see who is successful,’ says Brad, who is now in charge of recruitment. ‘If they enjoy the place, we offer them graduate positions.’
Brad is a firm believer that when you recruit graduates, you’re pushing the experience level of the organisation up – because everyone is growing. Senior staff pass their knowledge down while connecting with a younger generation that is more in touch with the latest technology, that bring a new way of thinking and that are enthusiastic about the work.
‘Constantly trying to make yourself redundant is a healthy way of growing,’ says Brad.
Evan has been working from home, surrounded by his five screens.
The next generation
Fenwick Software was Evan Boutsiavaras’ first placement, and it was an easy decision to come back when he graduated.
Evan’s role is similar to what he was doing on placement – just with harder tasks and bigger clients. He is paired with the same mentor.
After training Swinburne placement students for so long, Brad has expanded the program so that it’s not just for students; every staff member takes part in professional mentoring. That mentor is there to build your skills and answer any questions that go deeper than ‘How do I fix this issue?’ Evan and his mentor speak often and have an official catch-up every month.
‘There are going to be times when you feel like a little kid at the grown-up’s table, but you know that if you need help it’s always going to be available,’ Evan says.
Are you interested in accessing Swinburne’s student talent before they hit the graduate market and support our goal for every student to have workplace experience? If so, please complete this form so we can understand your needs and help you achieve your recruitment goals.