At NFU Mutual’s Guidewire Centre of Excellence (GCoE), we’re developing and implementing a huge number of transformational projects, which offer a wide range of career opportunities in different areas. The GCoE supports large-scale, long-term programmes of work that involves extensive business analysis, coding and testing, as well as agile working. We talked to some of the team about the career progression opportunities these projects offer in IT and across the wider NFU Mutual business.

One of NFU Mutual’s priorities for its people is to help them develop to their full potential. And the GCoE is no exception, as Gareth Brown, the IT Lead for the Centre, is keen to emphasise. “I believe that the GCoE should be somewhere you can develop and further your career,” he says. “I expect that some people who come here will want to stay for the long term, but others may choose to move into something different, be it another technical domain, or team leadership or working closer to the business. But that’s all part of attracting the best talent to our teams – we want people who want to progress their careers.”

Progress in the way you want
He also points out that they’re working towards offering a wider range of career progression opportunities in the Guidewire teams. One of these new approaches is identifying job families, as he explains: “Historically, like a lot of IT organisations, we’ve had a sort of technical ceiling. If you wanted to progress your career beyond a certain level, you had to move away from the technical and engineering skills and into leadership. So, now, we’re providing a technical career path by introducing job families. We already see our developers becoming senior and then principal developers. We are now offering further opportunities around technical engineering leadership, system analysis and solution design. So, you can stay on a technical career path and progress, without having to go into management.”

He says this new career framework is a work in progress, but people who join will hopefully be able to see how they can progress in the way they want. And they’ll still have the variety of career opportunities which means they can move from one area of Guidewire to another – for example from BillingCenter to ClaimCenter, or the major PolicyCenter implementation project, called Bridge. “We want to encourage breadth as well as depth,” he says. “So, whether you want to stay on one product or move into different areas, we can accommodate that.”

Career planning
Dan Tew is a technical lead working on Guidewire and he can already see how the introduction of the new career framework will benefit him. “In the past, I’ve had opportunities to move into more business-focused roles, but I really enjoy writing code,” he says. “I knew I wanted to be a developer and now I can see the career path through from junior developer to developer, senior and principal developer.”

He adds that his managers at NFU Mutual have always supported him in taking the developer career path and helped him to progress. This is all part of the career development structure across the whole business. “The company’s very clear on your career path and what you need to achieve in order to move up. And we have our own personal development plans and annual reviews, so we can see where we’re at, how we’re performing and what we need to do to get to the next level,” he says.

Naomi Clayson agrees, but adds that there are so many opportunities at NFU Mutual, that your career plans can take an unexpected turn. She explains that this is what happened when she got her current role as a Senior IT Workstream Lead. “I was working as a Business Analyst, and thought I’d progress up the Business Analysis career path” she says. “But I saw this role and thought I’d enjoy the opportunity. And here I am.”

Encouragement to develop your career
Naomi adds that she had lots of support from her line manager to apply for her current role and says this is typical of the approach at NFU Mutual. “They’re really good at encouraging you like that. They don’t want to hold you back and will give you the opportunity to move on within the business.”

James Taylor, an NFU Mutual Scrum Master, backs this up. “One of the main reasons why so many people stay here is that the company helps and encourages them to do different things. To move into new roles and build new skills,” he states. “For me, that meant moving from customer service into IT, which is something that in another company might sound a bit weird.” He adds that the chance to move around means that you get noticed by people in different areas, which led to an opportunity for him to join the company’s aspiring management programme.

Move up or across
Becky Muir manages the BillingCenter and ClaimCenter teams at MFU Mutual and outlines the career opportunities available to the people in her teams. “We’ve had people who came in as graduates and have moved up to become developers,” she points out. “And we’ve also had people who moved over to the Bridge project to either work on the introduction of PolicyCenter, or to support BillingCenter in Bridge.”

She sees this kind of cross-skilling as a major benefit to the business, adding that they want to encourage more of it. “In fact, once PolicyCenter’s live, we want people to move between the different teams and get skilled up,” she continues. “From our perspective, it means that we’ll have people who can handle different work and from the individual’s perspective, it gives them a variety of opportunities.”

Gareth Brown agrees. “It really helps the business,” he says. “It means we can move people to meet changes in demand because we’ve got more versatile technologists in our teams. And we can also offer opportunities to move into areas such as analysis or solution design.”

For Laura Jordan, a Scrum Master, it’s this opportunity to be versatile that she enjoys. As she puts: “What I like is there are people who have come from the business into IT and people from IT have gone out to the business. So, there are opportunities to try things right across the business.”

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.