At NFU Mutual’s Guidewire Centre of Excellence (GCoE), we’re developing and implementing a huge number of transformational projects. The GCoE supports large-scale, long-term programmes of work that involves extensive coding, business analysis and testing, as well as agile working. For graduates and people looking for their first IT role, this offers a wide range of opportunities to develop their skills and gain different experiences. We talked to some of the team about how they help new team members develop.

NFU Mutual’s two-year graduate training programme has a specific IT stream, which gives graduates the chance to gain experience working across a range of different IT teams, including Guidewire. Gareth Brown, the IT Lead for the GCoE explains how this works: “The graduates who come onto the Guidewire stream go through a similar induction to all the other graduates, and then they gain experience in the different IT teams. When they come into the Guidewire team, they get additional development training and help in gaining the competencies we need.”

Tracey Westbury is a Tester in the Guidewire team, who’s worked with a number of the graduates who came through this route. “Coming into the Guidewire teams is a great learning opportunity for them, because Guidewire has its own scripting language, which is a transferrable skill. We also use Java and SQL and we’ve just introduced Azure DevOps for the code repository and continuous code deployment. The graduates buddy up with developers who guide them in the coding, which means they can get stuck into code changes straight away.”

Opportunities beyond development
Gareth Brown points that, although the focus is on developers at the moment, the Guidewire team are also looking at other areas. Becky Muir, who leads the BillingCenter and ClaimCenter teams in the GCoE, agrees, adding: “So far, they’ve all taken the traditional route into developer roles. But we’re looking to broaden their opportunities, so they can train to become Scrum Masters or go into analysis, depending on their skills and how they want to progress their careers.”

For James Taylor, a Scrum Master in the team, it’s not just the skills that graduates can develop in the GCoE that are important, but the opportunities they have to use them at NFU Mutual. “I think for graduates, Guidewire is really exciting because you can transfer the skills to anywhere and the agile principles we’re using are really useful too,” he says. “But we don’t micromanage people, either. So, you’re encouraged to take ownership of your work and make your own decisions. And this means you can get involved straight away, because we trust you to do things.”

Tracey Westbury backs this up by highlighting the support that graduates receive in her team. “In the Test and Development environment, my team can control the code and it’s a collaborative process between the team members,” she explains. “So, any graduates in the team get involved in this, which really helps them to learn a lot. And the team’s very approachable, so if the graduates need any help with anything, there’s always someone to turn to.”

The graduate Guidewire experience
Dan Tew joined NFU Mutual straight from university after graduating in IT in 2012. “The company didn’t have a graduate scheme back then,” he explains. “But they gave me plenty of opportunities to develop my skills and my career.”

He outlines how he moved into more senior development roles and worked on different systems, until he had the opportunity to move into the GCoE. He says this move helped him to refine his Java skills and he’s now Guidewire accredited, too. He’s keen to help graduates who come into the Guidewire team to develop. “I helped to shape the Guidewire part of the graduate programme,” he explains. “Helping to map out the user stories they could work on, job shadowing, opportunities for day-to-day learning and the support we could give them.”

Dan believes NFU Mutual is a great place to work for IT graduates because there are so many opportunities for career progression. “From a technical perspective, even though NFU Mutual isn’t a software house, there’s a lot of software development going on across a range of systems and programming languages,” he says. “That’s why I’ve been here for ten years.”

Join us on our journey
At NFU Mutual’s Guidewire Centre of Excellence (GCoE), we’re developing and implementing a huge number of transformational projects that will have a major impact on the business. Find out how you can be part of this important and influential project. Take a look at our latest opportunities.