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I worked at Hewlett-Packard full-time (More than a year)
I joined HP UK&I, along with 11 other graduates as part of the 14 month 'Sales' program based up in Erskine, Glasgow. Unfortunately, it was not a pleasant experience. I was the 3rd graduate to resign from the original 12, and I know that another grad has since left the scheme. This leaves only 8 left out of the 12 who started last September. There were some Pros at HP: - A good basic Salary (however the advertised salary of £25,000 was only achieved after a long battle with management. Two months into the program our salary was cut to £20,000 with a £5,000 bonus based on hitting a sales target - there were issues with the sales letters being published / corrected in a acceptable time). - A company going in the right direction. HP's stock value has more than doubled since this time last year and under the rule of Meg Whitman (CEO and President) HP is on track with its 5 year turnaround plan and has delivered to the market some exceptional solutions in recent times. It really is the only IT company that can provide an end-to-end solution to customers - across the spectrum of hardware, software and services. I completely bought into the 'HP message' and loved the image that was given from the executives. This, however, was not enough to mitigate against my decision to leave, and was the only Pro (issues with salary) that I can really speak about. - Fast-Track: It is a fast track program to a high wage in a large multi-national organisation, but the 'structure' of the program will only suit a certain kind of person. - Looks good on a CV: This is true, and the only reason why I do not regret my decision of accepting a place on the HP sales graduate scheme. All 4 of us who have resigned (so far) have gone onto roles that are more suited: One grad went to join Accenture's consulting graduate scheme; Another is a marketing exec for a medical diagnostics company; another is now a PhD student; and the other is a field rep for Diageo.
Where to start? - Training: We received virtually no training from the L&D department in Erskine. This was partly, but not wholly, down to the fact that the site in Scotland is contracted out to Manpower and very few employees are 'HP Badged'. As a grad, you are HP badged and there is no one in Erskine to speak to about any grievances felt due to the contracted nature of the site. - Day Job: The Grad scheme is advertised as something wonderful. On the website is speaks of the salary and the ongoing training that you will receive in order to prepare you for a field based role in consultative selling (the end goal if you pass the year in Erskine). The reality is that you work in a call centre - it is a simple as that. Cold calling customers trying to get them to buy HP. This was not mentioned at the assessment day / nor was it in the literature available online. Your KPIs are Talk Time (2 hours minimum per day) and Dials (around the 30 dials a day mark). - Salary: As mentioned above. The grad scheme advertised a salary of £25,000 which turned out to be a lie (even though on the contracts signed it stated that the basic salary was £25,000). We were told that if we had an issue with the reduction to £20,000 + £5,000 OTE then we were on the wrong program. As 4 out of 12 grads have since resigned I think it is clear that this was an issue for some, but it was not the only issue. The sales letters that were given to us came late, and most were incorrect (people's targets being too high / the account set wrong, etc) and there is up to a 5 month delay on being paid commission. I had budgeted based on a basic salary of £25,000 and struggled with my outgoings as a result of the change. (Most of the grads, including myself, moved to Scotland for the program). - One Sided Nature: All the pressure will be on you. No one will be there to help. We were told that we needed to 'Fit the mould provided' and if we didn't then we would fail the assessment at the end of the program. We were told, by the head of L&D that the number one rule was to 'never be ourselves'. I had major issues with this approach. Management seemed to want us to jump through hoops and if we complained about the nature / structure / realities of the grad scheme we were told that it could affect our ability to pass the final assessment. - Disparity: Between management in Erskine and management in London / Bracknell. - Structure: There is none.
Advice to Management
- Be Honest: If you are honest with regards to the realities of the grad scheme in Erskine then you will not see such a mass exodus of grads during the program. Had I known what life was going to be like I would not have accepted the offer to join the graduate scheme. Do not advertise one wage and then pay another, it will lead to an unhappy workforce and resignations. - Support: Support the grads and help them to be the best that they can be in the roles asked of them. - Structure: I hope that given the unacceptable resignation rate on this years grad scheme, that for the incoming grads, management will put in place a well structured program with adequate training and development in order to help the grads grow as HP employees, as well as providing a clear pathway to the end goal (field sales). I don't believe there will be much / any change when it comes to the structure of the program. - Be Approachable: Unfortunately, the management for HP UK&I were generally not approachable. There were, of course, exceptions to this.