February 4, 2014 in Events (live blogging), HR Directors Business Summit 2014

Nestle – Engaging the future leaders of tomorrow

Engaging the future leaders of tomorrow – Jo Ward, Head of Talent, Nestle


Nestle felt that their talent pipeline was starting to dry up and were starting to see a significant increase in staff turnover in the graduate population.  In response to this, Nestle launched The Nestle Academy to develop a strong talent pipeline, create opportunities, and help make the sector attractive.


In winning an award for this work, Nestle were recognised for their broad organisational commitment and their work with external stakeholders. Nestle found that senior management support was fundamental in making this work. Work experience is an essential part of the learning and this was an opportunity for collaboration (rather than competition) across lots of organisations.


Nestle looked to engage with young people earlier, taking the opportunity to promote what is like to work with chocolate. It was important to make it fun, so groups of young people could come in and work together to create a box of chocolates, prior to pitching the concept in a dragon’s den scenario.


They have also changed the way they attract and select people. Competency-based recruiting is still used (and works well) for experienced hires, but doesn’t work with people who have little or no experience. Nestle have moved to strengths-based recruitment (which I personally think is fantastic!) and have found this to be very successful. People who aren’t hired are given feedback on their strengths and this can help them with future career choices. This move to strengths-based recruitment has made a significant positive impact to the quality of hiring. Social media also plays an increased part of recruitment, which increasing use of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Most graduates are now initially attracted by social media but then meet people face-to-face as a personal connection.


More recent developments have been to launch a ‘fast start’ programme which helps people through University (and is showing great results). Nestle are seeing great results with these apprenticeships and have very ambitious growth plans, including a partnership with Remploy to provide work experience for young people with disabilities.


There have been plenty of challenges along the way; bureaucracy (of funding, apprenticeships, and qualifications) has made things difficult. It is important not to pigeon-hole people doing apprenticeships; An apprenticeship is not a second-class career choice and Nestle often have apprentices continue their learning, with one apprentice just about to complete their Master’s degree. Nestle learned that their can be a greater pastoral role when working with young people and that we need to equip managers to do that.


Nestle have seen good successes; an improved talent pipeline, increased diversity, and have become a much more attractive place to work.  A great presentation with real-life examples!

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