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Wanita Berry, Wavemaker’s head of human resources. Picture: SUPPLIED/GROUPM
Wanita Berry, Wavemaker’s head of human resources. Picture: SUPPLIED/GROUPM

On the eve of the pandemic, in early 2020, international media company GroupM launched its GradX graduate programme in SA for the first time.

In hindsight, the timing was critical. Within a few months, young graduates looking for practical, on-the-job training were likely to find learnerships and internships hard to come by. Those who secured a position with GroupM were among the most fortunate.

Though all-too aware of the importance of the GradX Graduate Programme in 2020, GroupM has subsequently come to see it as an ethical and economic imperative. That’s why the company has been steadily increasing its intake of graduates.

In 2020, it welcomed 11 graduates. In 2021, this number increased to 33 and the programme expanded into other African markets, with three graduates joining the SA-based team remotely from their homes in East Africa.

This year, it will welcoming 40 new graduates from SA and the continent through its doors. They will be split between GroupM and its sister agencies, Wavemaker, MediaCom and Mindshare.

We want to do everything we can to create a talented pool of skilled, experienced professionals
Wanita Berry, Wavemaker’s head of human resources

“We believe we have a role to play in helping to upskill young talent to ensure growth within our industry and within SA,” says Wanita Berry, Wavemaker’s head of human resources.

“We want to do everything we can to create a talented pool of skilled, experienced professionals, particularly during these challenging times.”

As the programme enters its third year, it is larger, more robust and has a wider geographical spread than ever before.

“It is evolving in terms of learning and development; we've partnered with Redefine Human Capital to ensure it's more streamlined, more efficient and more effective,” says Berry.

Berry says the interview process remains rigorous, with a large number of interested candidates applying. “Selecting those who are successful is both challenging and emotional,” she says. “There is such eager talent in the market hoping to be snapped up and upskilled as the next successful generation of media experts.”

In its successful candidates, GroupM looks for people who have a passion for the industry and a willingness to learn. “We resonate with graduates who enjoy working in a team and collaborating, who aren’t afraid to ask questions and get involved, and who understand that challenges usually bring opportunities for learning and growth,” says Berry.

GroupM’s objectives for those who complete the 12-month GradX programme are clear. “We want to see our graduates succeed, regardless of their areas of interest,” says Berry.

“We want to ensure they are fully prepared for the next step in their careers. Ideally, we hope that we will be able to bring them on board within our suite of companies, as we have already done with so many graduates in the past.”

This article was paid for by Group M.