Why Optus isn’t just for tech grads

Dave Roberts
Dave Roberts
Team GradAustralia

Whilst technology companies are usually the target of IT graduates, telecommunications giants like Optus are usually overlooked by graduates from other fields.

However, the Optus ‘campus’ is no small workplace and like its purpose-built grounds, the company itself is something every graduate should investigate.

From Arts to Administration, Commerce to Science, the grad programme at Optus takes all disciplines of study– as our interviewees Kate Pogson, Chris Antonini and Emma Rozairo told us.

Kate and Emma joined the company in 2014, and Chris in 2015.

“When I was finishing uni I came to the Optus campus and… I got a sense throughout my interviews that I was going to be given a sense of autonomy and be able to work on really interesting work.” Kate said.

“That proved to be correct.”

The 27-year-old graduated in 2012 from Macquarie University with a double degree in Business Administration and Arts Majoring in Economics. She works in the Customer Experience Team, the area of Optus that acts as the ‘customer’s advocate’ within the company.

Her team is in charge of a variety of work, from making sure customer’s voices are heard and represented throughout the company, to process improvement and waste elimination.

“Some days I’ll be delivering training to the front line staff, meeting with stakeholders, data analysis, or preparing data to present. It’s extremely varied.”

Chris, a 24-year-old UNSW Commerce and Science graduate, is involved with the Consumer Supply Chain – a less varied but still critical role. It is his department’s responsibility to ensure products go from supplier to customer.

“I’m essentially a subject matter expert for the supply chain. There are a lot of meetings, a lot of input. I don’t do a lot of training, but there is a lot of interaction on the service level.”

Emma is on the other end of the company – the 25-year-old’s role as part of the Category and Channel Enablement team is, as she says, essentially sales.  Perfect for the recipient of a degree from UTS with a bachelor of business majoring in marketing and international management.

“At the moment I’m doing a mini-rotation within that team and I’m in a communications role.” Her role revolves around liaising with the sales consultants who are involved with large scale businesses, and consumer stores to make sure they keep doing their job well.

“There are a lot of different initiatives we use to keep our front line sales force team engaged. We also look at the shopper journey in our stores, where we look how to keep our stores relevant – how we bring and use digital technology in, to keep customers with us. I’ve had a lot of exposure in that broad team.”

Exposure to different areas of the business is, in fact, one of the key elements of the Optus Grad Programme, alongside a top-notch support network for the incoming graduates.

The company even gives graduates the flexibility to, to an extent, set their own direction and goals, and work together on achieving them in addition to the goals set by the company.

“My director is really happy for me to say ‘these are my career objectives, this is what I want to be doing’. Chris said. “That a company this size has that focus on the individual is, I think, quite impressive.”

The flexibility the company offers is due to the way the company views its graduates – as an investment in their future workforce.

“Since day one that hasn’t stopped.” Emma said. “We do training, have the opportunity to go overseas and I’ve had the opportunity to go into different areas of the business. They just want you to find your feet and want to stay.”

Being such a customer-focussed business, it’s little surprise that all the incoming graduates are expected to have personable qualities and skills. But there are other qualities which the grads say are key to success at the company, including honesty.

“Thinking on your feet is important.” Chris said. “You have to be able to have an answer when asked a question – but it’s equally as important to have the courage to say ‘I don’t know.’ There’s nothing worse than making something up and being wrong.”

Habitual networking is another key area which graduates are encouraged to hone, and Emma even believes it’s important for your whole life, not just work.

“Recognizing a networking opportunity is a big skill to have.” Emma told me. “If you meet someone at a meeting you really take to, set up a follow-up meeting.”

So how can you be successful at Optus? Kate sums it up for us.

“The grads who are successful here have demonstrated they have that inner ability to drive themselves. The ability to want to develop further.” She said

“It’s a dynamic industry – accept things are changing and go with the flow.”

Considering the breadth of Optus, the telco should definitely be on your list when thinking about potential graduate roles. Their programme is geared to take people from all walks of life, not just those with an interest in technology. And with the amount of investment Optus makes in their graduates, it’s difficult to skip over this one.


About the Author:
Dave Roberts is a Sydney-based Journalist, Photographer, and Videographer. He specialises in graduate and internship reporting as Digital Media Editor at GradAustralia, and has extensive experience reporting across the news, travel, and music industries.
Twitter: @daveeroberts