Eastern Western Motor Group has welcomed five graduates into its ranks as part of a pioneering new assessment and recruitment programme designed to identify its future leaders.
The new recruits have taken up posts at the Edinburgh-based group’s BMW, Lexus, Toyota and Volkswagen franchises following a selection process hich included a four-day assessment course attended by potential candidates from the highly-regarded business course at Edinburgh’s Napier University.
Eastern Western partnered with Edinburgh’s Sandstone Communications, a specialist in skills acquisition and leadership development, to create the Management Acceleration Pathway (MAP), that underpins the new graduate scheme.
Keith Duncan, the Eastern Western’s group managing director, explained the thinking behind the scheme. He said: “It can be difficult for newly-qualified graduates to get a foot on the ladder of the car business because most car companies require previous experience.
“Furthermore, they rarely offer a clear and effective path to management. At Eastern Western Motor Group, however, we see things differently.
“We are actively seeking really effective communicators who understand and embrace modern technology, and are capable of building relationships. Modern business graduates are ideal. An interest in cars helps, of course, but is not essential in any way.”
Graduate candidates were specially selected for the training and assessment programme from the business course at Napier University.
Over the course of a four-day assessment held in early May, they were asked to perform a series of presentations and were also assessed on their ability to build rapport and empathy with customers.
The graduates were required to demonstrate the mental agility necessary to adapt presentations and content to the changing demands of today’s customers.
As the week progressed the candidates were given more technical information and advanced negotiation techniques.
Each presentation and customer interaction was video recorded and played back for coaching purposes.
Sandstone’s automotive specialist team – Jeremy Gumbley, Tim Bradshaw and David Samuel – conducted the initial training and selection before Duncan and Eastern Western’s franchise director for BMW, Magnus Wang, made the final recruitment decisions at the end of the final day, based on a series of interviews.
Bradshaw said: “The ultimate aim is for them to be successfully managing areas of the business, but they must also have the resilience to complete an ‘apprenticeship’ on the sales team first.
“It is vital to understand the industry, the business and its people to lead a team effectively.”
Eastern Western’s Group HR manager, Kim Gilfillan, said: “This is a great way for graduates to jump start their careers.
“Graduates don’t simply want a job, they want a career path and the MAP Programme does just that.
“Of course, it’s a given that the new recruits need to perform in their respective roles, but what we are doing is providing the opportunity for longer-term development.
“The scheme provides a platform to allow the graduates to immerse themselves in the sales department, learning on the job and working with some of the best and most respected sales professionals in the industry.
“What we guarantee them at the end of a timeframe appropriate to each candidate, is the opportunity to be assessed for our MAP Programme.
“They might decide that management is not for them but, either way, they have a great future ahead of them with our company.”
Eastern Western’s next graduate recruitment programme is scheduled to take place in June.