Meet the people shaping talent assessment to support organisational needs

We talk to Amy Rutterford, Global Youth Programmes Manager at Vodafone, to find out which talent project she’s most proud of, and why.

Vodafone is a leading telecommunications company in Europe and Africa. Its purpose is to “connect for a better future” and its expertise and scale give it a unique opportunity to drive positive change for society. It plays a vital role in keeping family, friends, businesses and governments connected. Vodafone supports diversity and inclusion and is taking significant steps to reduce its impact on the planet.


What talent project are you most proud of?

We’re so proud of our global talent assessment project. The project uses new virtual assessment technology that supports remote, fair and accessible assessment centres that are aligned to our Purpose and Spirit. Because it is immersive and digital, it is revolutionising our global youth hiring processes.

Implementing it this year in circumstances of such huge magnitude has been challenging, yet we’ve gained better output than we’d originally envisaged.

In December 2019 we launched our new global culture framework that has in turn redefined the behaviours that we hire against. The new ‘Spirit of Vodafone’ framework now focuses on four core values: Creating the Future, Experimenting and Learning, Earning Customer Loyalty and Getting it Done together.  We have put a real focus on hiring people into our youth programmes based on their potential rather than experience, and along with behaviours, this is at the core of our assessment centres.

These changes are necessary to help us transform from a telecommunications company to the technology communications company we are today. An enormous part of our role in assessment is to demystify what Vodafone does as a business. To communicate this to our candidates we set out to create a ‘day in the life’ experience. We know that if we want to compete for the right talent and support our Employer Value Proposition, we need to project ourselves and assess candidates in a different way than we did before.

In 2020, COVID-19 became a sudden challenge. Our pathway was already towards digital, but the impact of the virus meant we needed to manage everything at great pace, innovating and working collaboratively globally to maintain quality.


Can you outline the project?

 We worked closely with Aon’s Assessment Solutions team to design our assessment centres, plus use its immersive and interactive digital assessment platform. This is an intuitive and flexible platform that we have customised to help with the delivery of our online assessment centres. Each of the activities within the assessment centres are hosted on one platform, even launching the video interviews from within the system itself. This creates a really smooth experience for our candidates and assessors. At the end of an assessment centre, candidates can give us feedback on the process using our Net Promoter Score questionnaire and we provide them with partially automated feedback on their performance, allowing candidates and Vodafone to grow and improve.

Using this virtual talent assessment tool means global youth hires align to our behavioural and cultural needs, as we can customise it for specific job functions – say technology, HR or commercial. This means we are able to ask more detailed and relevant questions to make sure behaviours and potential work for our specific needs and the requirements of the role. We have also smoothed the process for our assessors globally and importantly, we can assess every candidate in the same way, no matter their location.

Candidates can explore what it feels and looks like to work with us at Vodafone – no matter the role they apply for.

Also, as the process is immersive, candidates can explore what it feels and looks like to work with us, no matter the role they apply for.

Importantly for our business, the assessment tool supports our Vodafone pillars – Planet, Digital Society and Inclusion for All. In terms of digital and inclusive societies, we are utilising technology to help create a more level playing field for everyone. As long as someone has a device and internet connection, they can apply – and we gain a much broader, diverse talent pool from wider geographies and backgrounds.


What has the project achieved?

Normally this type of activity, moving a process to a purely digital platform, could take one or two years; we’ve managed to complete it in eight months. We’ve also pushed cultural boundaries, not least when it comes to CV’s and traditional assessment. Ultimately our aim is to assess on potential and skills, possibly removing academic qualifications that can be influenced by systemic prejudices. Assessing in this way opens up a big wide world of talent we can invite into our tech space.

14 markets are now set to use our new process, which shows phenomenal engagement.

Our previous assessment tool was used by three markets, so we predicted five or six markets would use our new process. In actuality, 14 markets are now set to use it throughout FY22, which shows phenomenal engagement.

The feedback we’re receiving is great. We’re constantly thinking about how we can iterate and improve, not least by ensuring that Net Promoter Scores are included in every aspect of the system. This means we measure everything in an objective, logical and quantitative way.

So far, 598 candidates have responded to our NPS questionnaire. Here are some results:

  • 89% of candidates said they enjoyed the assessment centre
  • 83% agreed that the process gave them a good understanding of what it would be like to work in a Youth Programme at Vodafone
  • 89% agreed the process seemed fair and relevant
  • 88% agreed they would speak positively about their assessment centre experience.


What did you learn?

We work as a Centre of Excellence and know that co-creation with our markets enables people to better understand how new elements will serve them, building more enthusiasm and engagement. In this process, however, co-creation meant we had a lot of cooks in the kitchen, all with their own time pressures. Although we gained great feedback and support for a single, global tool, we also became aware that we couldn’t keep everyone happy. Managing expectations at the start is something we could have done better.

We also learned about preparing for extenuating circumstances when it comes to budgets. Because we underestimated how many markets would use the new tool, we hadn’t budgeted for the greater cost. This meant we needed to find significantly more budget at a time when COVID-19 was creating challenges, which was not ideal.

The answer was found in working collaboratively.

In actuality, creating functional exercises for every specific role was the biggest challenge, but the answer was found in working collaboratively – everyone, whether they were in the Centre of Excellence, a part of a global team, the business leads or the team at Aon, pulled together to work effectively at pace.

What we know now is that the platform is reflective of the societies we are building. We are seeing cities becoming more digital and progressive and our new process entirely embraces this immersive and digital experience.


This is the fifth in a series of profiles on talent innovators. Read the others – Serco, Ocado, Siemens Energy and Schroders – and watch out for more.