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  • Christopher Peatfield

2012 Rising Star of the Year

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Christopher Peatfield

TECHNICAL CO-ORDINATOR, BARRATT DEVELOPMENTS PLC


BACKGROUND

Originally from Wakefield in West Yorkshire, I undertook a fairly generic path through my education by completing my GCSE’s at 16, progressing through A-levels and then applying immediately to Universities where I was fortunate to gain a place at The University of Sheffield to study Architecture.

I graduated in 2009 with a 2:1 BA Honors degree before joining the Barratt Developments Graduate Development Programme in 2010 based in Leicestershire. I’m a keen runner and last year completed both the Great North Run as well as the UK’s Three Peaks 24hr Challenge – both as part of teams from Barratt Developments.

UNIVERSITY

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at University. Moving away from home, exploring a new city, meeting new people and studying a subject I was genuinely interested in gave me the opportunity to broaden my horizons, take responsibility and work hard!

Having always enjoyed playing an active role in extracurricular projects, I continued this mentality during my time at University. I had key roles in societies, charity fundraising and conducting campus tours for prospective students. These gave me ‘real life’ experiences in commercial awareness, creative thinking and presentation over and above the requirements of my course.

Throughout University I both worked and volunteered with local companies and charities, gaining experience in my chosen sector in order to put my learning into practice and challenge myself. I thought it was important to earn money to fund my next months at University while also learning new skills and building on the knowledge learnt from my course. I have since found that these roles have provided me with a wide range of transferable skills and experiences allowing me to grow both professionally and personally.

WHY I CHOSE BARRATT DEVELOPMENTS

When graduating university I knew the industry I wanted to be a part of and the roles I was interested in, this certainly helped to narrow my focus in the job market. I was already aware of Barratt Developments as the UK’s leading national volume house builder prior to applying for the role and even studied the low carbon Barratt Greenhouse at University. I knew Barratt’s would be an environment that I would thrive in as the company shared many of my key values and encouraged new ideas and forward thinking. I chose to apply to the Barratt Developments Graduate scheme because the programme offered candidates an insight into the entire business before specialising in a chosen area, further to a well-balanced and intensive training and support framework and the opportunities to make a positive contribution to the business and progress my career.

The programme set out to fully immerse the candidate in the business by spending 2 months in each of the six key disciplines of the business; Land, Technical, Commercial, Construction, Sales and Finance, before specialising in your chosen discipline, which for me was Technical, in the second year. The programme included a well-considered set of training courses ranging from ‘Communication and Presentation’ to ‘Project Management’, as well as an effective framework of support including mentoring from a divisional Managing Director. I felt that the programme would challenge me and provide me with the right opportunities and experiences to progress my career.

RECRUITMENT PROCESS

The recruitment process for the graduate scheme was –as expected – very thorough with a great attention to detail. I initially applied online through the ‘www.buildingcareerstogether.co.uk’ website before being invited to a telephone interview and then finally an Assessment Centre. The whole process was efficiently run with a clearly identified set of differentiators that I would be assessed on.

The Assessment Centre I attended for Barratt Developments was my first. It included a variety of techniques, uniquely designed to assess key abilities and skills. My enthusiasm for the company and being able to demonstrate previous work experiences and development were key factors towards passing the assessment centre and being offered a place on the development programme. The assessment centre also provided me with the opportunity to meet current employees throughout the business and find out some more about Barratt Developments and the programme to ensure the role was a good match for me.

SETTLING IN

Prior to starting the job I was introduced to the other successful graduates on a Facebook group set up by our ‘Graduate Recruitment and Development Manager’. Primarily this was just a way to meet the rest of the intake, however, after finding out that three other graduates were relocating to Leicestershire it provided a platform for us deciding to move in together. This was great fun but also allowed us all to go through those first few weeks together.

Before starting I was also introduced to my Buddy, an ex-graduate from the scheme, based in my office, who could offer informal advice and answer those ‘silly’ questions which you probably wouldn’t otherwise ask.

Due to the nature of the scheme I then spent 8 weeks in each of the six disciplines of the company. This meant I was consistently meeting new people and working in different teams and environments. This was a fantastic way to immerse myself in the business.

MY ACHIEVEMENTS

To date my time with Barratt Developments has far exceeded my expectations. Since starting on the Graduate Development Scheme I have had the opportunity to make a positive contribution in each of the six disciplines I have worked in. This included the following:

Land: I researched and set up an initial meeting with a landowner for a considerable number of units. I was able to work this site through all stages of viability with the land department and have recently had our offer accepted.

Commercial: I played a key role in the implementing, designing and creating of a new sales extras initiative for the division which has been exceptionally well received, significantly increasing profits for the division.

Sales: During my sales rotation I created and developed a sales survey for recent customers. My analysis highlighted trends which I was able to present to my Sales Director and Managing Director which suggested a number of changes to enhance our digital focus and therefore gaining a better return on investment.

Since joining the Technical team full time in July 2011 I have been able to build on my experiences from my first year and have had the opportunity to run my own site successfully and get involved in some very exciting projects. For example I participated in increasing the number of road, sewer and public open space adoptions resulting in significant cost savings. I have also been tasked with managing our divisions ‘Green Team’ which has involved managing a team, delegating tasks and communicating directly with staff and directors.

My current role is consistently challenging, allowing my professional and personal capabilities to grow and ensuring no day is the same! The training courses and mentoring I have received from my divisional Managing Director have been excellent and I feel I have known in what areas and how I need to progress throughout my time with Barratts. I have a real ambition to progress and understand what I need to do to continue to push myself and reach my goals.

Further to work completed within the division I have also collaborated with the Local District Council, encouraged and supported by the graduate programme. My role was to assist in the implementation of green initiatives in the local area to support the council in encouraging the local community to be more ‘green’. This included:

• Arranging, creating and conducting a lesson plan and construction site visit for a local school. The school presentation is now available for other divisions to use.

• Initiating and creating the ‘LEAF’ scheme – The volunteers reward scheme ‘Local Environment and Friends’ was designed to reward local volunteers with discounts at local stores.

• Organising a collection of surplus building materials from sites to be delivered to the local college for educational use.

• Tree Giveaway – Helped to distribute trees to local residents during his free time.

• Conducting visits and writing up a series of case studies of local environmentally friendly buildings to provide an online resource library for the council’s website.

Furthermore, an integral part to the Graduate Programme and a key facilitator to furthering my management, relationship building and influencing skills involved working with the homeless charity Centrepoint. A number of other graduates and I were tasked with helping to establish the charity in the north east, build relationships and raise funds for the charity. This led us to running a networking event at the Stadium of Light, hosting a golf event and running street collection campaigns. The project allowed me to develop team work and management skills for a project from inception to completion. Understanding key stakeholders, setting tangible targets and effective planning were all key skills I developed which I have been able to transfer into my current and future roles.

RISING STAR AWARD 2012

I was delighted to win the Rising Star Award at the Targetjobs National Graduate Recruitment Awards 2012. Although it’s difficult for me to say why I won the award, I would say that my key strengths during my 18 months at Barratt’s have been:

Achieving at Work: As already discussed above, I have been set some tough challenges throughout my time with Barratt’s and I have always pushed myself to exceed these targets. I have made a significant contribution to the business over and above the expectations of my Managing Director resulting in significant cost savings and increased profits from various disciplines, not just my own.

Going Over and Above: I have maintained a high level of activity and involvement throughout my graduate programme, not just in regard to the commitments for my role but also by getting involved in other ventures above and beyond my role. These have included: volunteering with the Local District Council, a charity project with Centrepoint, managing the divisions Green Team and assisting in the recruitment of the next graduate intake. Pushing myself in these areas allowed me to work closely with other teams across the group and further my abilities which I could then transfer directly into my role.

Building Relationships: I am an enthusiastic and dedicated member of the team, always willing to get involved and ensuring all tasked are completed to a high level. The ability to positively and confidently challenge ideas was something I learnt to do effectively early on and gave me the opportunity to influence change. I have built strong relationships with internal and external customers for the company and feel I have made a positive impact on the working environment.

My Ambition to Progress: I am very focussed on success and have taken on every challenge with a positive and enthusiastic attitude. I have set myself clear personal and professional goals for the future to ensure I can keep developing my career within Barratt.

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