“The senior team set the tone for Countryside” by James Mahon
James Mahon, 22, joined Countryside as a Graduate Trainee in October 2018, having completed a MSc in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Birmingham. For James, one of the stand-out things about the Countryside Graduate Programme is how much contact they have with the senior team.
When I completed my Masters, I was looking around for graduate schemes in the property sector. Countryside’s offering really stood out because its programme seemed to be more varied than some of its peers - there is an opportunity to move through different departments within the business.
On joining the graduate scheme, I was surprised by the access and visibility we got and continue to receive from the senior leadership team. Early on in the programme, all the graduates were given an introductory presentation from the senior team. We heard from Ian Sutcliffe, Countryside’s Group Chief Executive, Rebecca Worthington, Group Chief Operating Officer, Mike Scott, Group Chief Financial Officer, and Group HR Director, Nick Worrall. The senior team members don’t just come and go but take the time to instil the passion and drive they bring to the company, ensuring we are on the right track.
This exposure to the senior team not only made me feel valued but proved that Countryside’s ethos of cultivating talent is driven from the top – they really are role models for us. Looking back on Countryside’s history, the Graduate Programme started around three decades ago and our CEO of Communities, Graham Cherry, was the first to enter the scheme.
For me, this is really motivating: it drives me to soak up as much information as possible. For example, I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting about contractual agreements at one of Countryside’s developments in Dagenham. I jumped at the chance. It was fantastic to get an insight into this side of property law – I suddenly realised how many different facets there are to housebuilding.
From day one, I knew I made the right choice when I joined Countryside. True leadership and vision start from the top and I certainly feel that from the contact I have had with them: their attitude to housebuilding, their mission and vision, trickle down and everyone really gets behind these goals.
My advice to new Countryside graduates would be to make the most of the facetime with these heavy hitters, soak up the insight they bring and dive into the details. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions – everyone, including the senior team, is more than happy to provide the answers!