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Home » Graduate Careers » The power of development opportunities in graduate programmes

Patricia Kingston

Cyber Security Lead,
PepsiCo Ireland

Devan O’Donnell

HR Assistant Business Partner,
PepsiCo Ireland

Two women share their experiences of the exciting career paths that can blossom from doing a graduate programme, including on-the-job learning and exposure to other roles.

How has your career evolved? 

Patricia: I’ve been with PepsiCo for 18 years since starting PepsiCo’s graduate programme after college. After trying out numerous IT roles, I am currently the Cybersecurity Lead for our sector.  

Devan: I started seven years ago as an HR Operations intern. Since then, I have moved around various roles within the HR function, the majority within the talent acquisition team.  

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

Patricia: There’s so much opportunity from an IT perspective. I’ve seen so much change across our business over the past 18 years — going from manual processes to pushing a digitalisation agenda. We advocate energy efficiency and are continuously adapting to new technologies.  

Devan: The positive culture is evident from the minute you come in for the interview. Everybody here is so friendly and welcoming. The other is the space to develop, including opportunities to travel, which is part of the nature of being in a global organisation

Graduates gain so much by working with a
variety of teams because each team
has something different to offer.

Patricia Kingston

What does a graduate programme typically involve? 

Devan: There are two-year rotational plans, with the exception of finance, which is three years so that graduates gain relevant accountancy qualifications. Graduates get to work with various teams and benefit from having a mentor. As well as IT and finance graduate positions, we’ve expanded into procurement, supply chain, R&D, Engineering, Quality and HR functions.  

How can such programmes open new opportunities for graduates? 

Patricia: The rotation factor is amazing. Graduates gain so much by working with a variety of teams because each team has something different to offer. The exposure to different roles could sway somebody to move into a career they might not have considered otherwise. 

Devan: Graduates work together on cross-functional projects, so it builds skill sets that they wouldn’t get if they were just pigeonholed into one team. They can navigate their own careers through the programme. Many graduates have continued their careers to associate-level roles and beyond with us. 

What advice would you give others thinking about embarking on a graduate programme? 

Patricia: Be open to opportunities. Make the most of any training available because it might give you insight into some area that you hadn’t thought about before but could interest you.  

Devan: Network internally. Build your brand with other functions and not just with other graduates because it can help give you a flavour for various roles. 

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