In the latest of our ‘Five minutes with the employer’ series, we talked with Ashley Cresswell, E-Commerce Team Manager at GXO to get his insights about the GXO grad scheme, the application process and more…
Can you give us a brief description of the graduate scheme at GXO?
The Graduate Scheme aims, by default, to make you as well-rounded a logistics manager as possible. The general template is that you will spend placements (3 x 8 months) working in project management, warehouse management and transport management. That said, if you have a keen interest in a particular sector, ultimately you are your own manager and can seek out your own placements through the network that you build. Whilst you will be afforded the necessary training, you will also be managing from day one on the job which can be a little daunting. Ultimately, though, becoming more familiar with being out of your comfort zone is one of the best methods of development for you as a person.
Alongside the operational management, the GXO Graduate Scheme also includes mandatory training such as a Leadership & Management Level 3, IOSH (health & safety qualification), transport management CPC (allowing you to hold a regional vehicle license permit) to name but a few.
What kind of characteristics are GXO looking for in a strong candidate?
The vast majority of successful applicants don’t have a background in logistics. As far as we’re concerned we can teach you the operational processes, we’re looking for the personality and people skills. Somebody who:
- Isn’t afraid to ask questions.
- Will engage with new people.
- Will challenge existing process and poor practice.
- Is excited by taking the initiative in a challenging situation.
Key experiences I would be looking for at an Assessment Centre would be any experience of leading people, working with different demographics and someone who will rise to a challenge with clear and direct process.
What’s the application process like (including the assessment centre) and can you give us any hints and tips?
Most importantly, as mentioned previously, we’re looking for personality as well as process. As with any Graduate Scheme, there will be hundreds of applicants and you have to make yourself stand out. Be punchy, catch the reader’s attention with the first line of your CV and cover letter. Do your best to put your personality on paper whilst still demonstrating that professional edge we look for in a manager.
If you pass through the application process, there will be a brief video interview where you will be asked a couple of questions about you and a situational logistics question. Of course, it’s unlikely you will know our perfect process in response, so we’re looking for that calm, logical, reasoned approach.
At the next stage we have maths and English psychometric testing. These are done online and last 30 minutes each. I would recommend practising a couple of psychometric tests you can find online to prepare for the style of them.
Finally, around 20 people are invited to a two-day Assessment Centre. We provide your hotel with plenty of food and drink across the two days, including an evening meal with the occasional open bar! This provides a fantastic opportunity to get a feel for the company as it is attended by regional and national managers/directors alike, all looking for the next Graduate they can take under their wing.
The Assessment Centre comprises of some smaller introductory tasks but mainly:
- Group puzzles/tasks – a perfect opportunity to show how you can combine both working as a part of a team and showing leadership within a team.
- Interview – we expect that if you’ve made it to this point then we can teach you the process. The questions are likely to be more about you as a person, what situations you’ve encountered in your past, and more than one question that will be off-the-wall and completely unprepared for! I can’t stress this enough, show your personality.
- Case study – You will be given a case study detailing a hypothetical GXO warehouse. We’re looking for a logical and well-explained 15 minute presentation that sets out an improvement plan taking in to account both urgent and heavily weighted issues.
- A site tour – to experience one of our warehouse operations first-hand.
What would be your advice to current students about how to develop their skills whilst at Uni?
Similarly to what we would look for in a candidate, I would recommend:
- Engaging with varied demographics and learning how to communicate in different styles.
- Whether through societies, sports, volunteering or work, find a way to take ownership of situations and lead people.
- Take the challenge of doing new things you’ve been nervous to do. Becoming more familiar with being out of your comfort zone will encourage you to make the most of your opportunities and stand out from the crowd. You will need this to be both a successful applicant and a successful graduate.
Can you tell us about your career journey so far?
My degrees are in Sport Science, which is of course completely unrelated but I was able to discuss several transferrable skills such as coaching, analysis and implementation. Throughout university I volunteered with differing populations as varied as people with learning difficulties, physical disabilities, dementia, elite athletes and refugees which required much adaptation. I supervised the University sporting facility after graduation where I was able to lead a small number of staff operationally.
My aim when joining GXO was to learn as much about the industry as possible and so I chased a broad learning opportunity. I managed a transport operation for Tesco Express, project supervised the contract acquisition of Waitrose, managed a chilled food warehouse for Iceland and managed international shipping projects for Ted Baker.
My permanent position after the Graduate Scheme, where I have been working for 4 months, is working for GXO at M&S in Bradford. I am an E-Commerce Team Manager, working on the implementation of a brand new multi-million pound operation. It’s fair to say that a mixture of hard work, saying yes to opportunities and challenges put in front of you, and making the most of opportunities to visit new sites and meet new people have all played a huge part in making me a logistics professional within two years.
GXO have afforded me an incredible opportunity and as a graduate, I know that there are eyes on me with regards to my future. If you are willing to grab the opportunity with both hands, there are endless opportunities available at the largest contract logistics company in the world.
Thanks Ashley. You can see the details of the 2022 GXO Graduate Scheme and apply here (closing date 3rd Jan 2022), and you can follow GXO on Twitter. Careers appointments are available until 23rd December if you need any help with your application.