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Profile of a blast graduate: Shannon Stronach

The Anglo American BLAST Graduate Programme (Building Leadership and Shaping Talent) was created to attract and develop the required exceptional people to lead Anglo American into the future. 

Here, we talk to Shannon Stronach, people systems design analyst, about her experiences with the programme.

AA: Why did you want to work for Anglo American?

SS: I wanted to work for Anglo American because it is a company that has a global presence and has played an important part in South Africa’s economic and labour history. Additionally, the opportunities that are associated with the graduate programme that I am a part of, BLAST, implies that Anglo American takes the development of its graduates seriously. Therefore, I felt that I could  benefit greatly from the values and philosophies of Anglo American as a young graduate.

AA: What attracted you as a graduate?

SS: The main attraction for me was the incredible opportunities that form part of BLAST. Not only are we afforded the opportunity to rotate through the company to gain experience in different areas of our field of study and functions of the business, but we are also relocated on an international assignment. I can highlight the international assignment as a main attraction as it is a foreign opportunity that encompasses several different prospects for growth and development.

AA: How are you supported as a graduate at Anglo American?

SS: I am supported by the Group Learning and Development team and specifically Maryanne Trollope who assists us in identifying exciting and challenging roles across the business. Furthermore, special care is  taken to identify managers who are willing to assist us in our career development and ensure that each rotation includes maximum exposure and growth. Furthermore, as a BLASTer you automatically join the BLAST network which consists of all of  graduates who are currently and have previously formed part of the programme. This creates a wide pool of knowledge and experience that you can tap into whenever you need which is invaluable. 

AA: What programmes did you take part in?

SS: I have taken part in TAP (The Achiever Programme) which is a leadership programme that aims to develop your skills in a personal, social and business context. The programme is intensive in the work that is expected to be delivered but also creates the networking opportunity to meet fellow Anglo American employees who came from all over the business and the world. 

AA: What advice would you give to graduates who want to embark on a career at Anglo American?  

SS: Anglo American is a company that is diverse in its work and has a reputation as a global player. I would say that it is important to have an appreciation of this and to be open to every opportunity to learn and develop that may arise because of those factors. This would mean putting your hand up for any kind of work – be it a glamorous project or an administrative assignment. This demonstrates the importance of humbleness and a willingness to learn which has proven, in my experience, to be highly valued by fellow Anglo Americans.

AA: What differentiates the BLAST programme to other graduate development programmes in the market?

SS: BLAST is like no other programme in the country in the sense that we are able to rotate throughout the company and are fast-tracked to learn as much as we can within a guideline of an 18 month assignment. Additionally, we are sent on an international assignment for 18 months to gain experience, not only in a different area of the business, but to overcome the challenge of living abroad whilst working. 

AA: Which opportunity has benefited you the most, from a career perspective as an Anglo BLASTER?

SS: I have just moved to London on my international assignment and in the short space of time that I have been here, I have come to appreciate the opportunity that this will be for my career in terms of the technical and personal learnings that I will gain. The team that I have joined, Organisational Effectiveness, is based in London and if the opportunity of an international assignment had not be a part of the programme, I might not have had the chance to be learn the specific work that the team performs. 

AA: What challenges have you had to overcome in your role as an Anglo BLASTER and how did you overcome them?

SS: A major challenge that I have had to overcome is that as a graduate with little experience, you can encounter individuals who may not believe that you have value to add. The way that I have overcome this is by making extra effort to gain the trust of these individuals by going the extra mile and generating work of a high standard.

AA: Have your personal and professional goals been met on this programme? And if so, how?

SS: I have been a part of BLAST for a little over a year and during this short time, I have learnt and been exposed to so much. With the help of a very supportive manager in my first role as a People Development Analyst in Supply Chain, I have begun the journey of discovering my goals in a personal and professional capacity which is my aim in my first few years of work.

Watch out for an opportunity to apply for the 2016 BLAST programme from Monday, 11 May, closing on Friday, 7 August.

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