BAE Systems

BAE Systems PLC is a British multinational defence, security and aerospace company listed in the UK, with more than 80,000 employees. Impact have worked with BAE Systems since 2001, and from 2014 have collaborated on a graduate programme to develop a pipeline of future talent who are committed, inspired and ready to take on roles within the company. BAE Systems is committed to developing new generations of leaders through the revised Graduate Developing You (GDY) programme, which all graduates undertake.

The programme adopts a blended learning approach incorporating theoretical and experiential learning. It supports and develops graduates, empowering them to be creative and pioneering to create innovative solutions that make a difference. The programme aligns with the business objective “to inspire and develop our people to drive success” - key to achieving their vision to be the premier international defence, aerospace and security company.


Impact provides an engaging development programme aligned to BAES’s global competencies, with the objective of enabling every graduate to realise their potential in BAE Systems and add value to the company. The behavioural competencies support high performance by inspiring and equipping graduates to; take responsibility for their learning, gain better awareness of themselves and their work, tackle workplace challenges, drive strategic growth, generate new ideas, partner and collaborate with customers and networks globally, influence, lead and inspire.

Throughout the three modules, the graduates discover much more about BAE Systems and themselves - how their style affects other people, how they influence others and help them to do better, how they react in diverse situations and what their vision is for themselves and BAE Systems in a volatile, complex world.


The bespoke programme involves three modules split over 18 months and uses an eclectic mix of learning methodologies to create powerful individual and team opportunities to learn from new emotions, challenges and situations. After pre-programme work, module one builds understanding of personal effectiveness via a two-day residential programme. It covers self-awareness, personal skills, MBTI®, personal shields and disclosure.

Following module one the group are split into teams of four. BAE Systems senior stakeholders give each team responsibility for a real life business project, for presentation at the next module. Module two is a four-day Lake District based residential programme starting with half-day presenting projects to, and debating with, BAE Systems senior stakeholders. The best projects are taken back to the business to be implemented. The second module combines Impact’s tried and tested methodologies with innovate methods. Outdoor journeys and 1:1 coaching provide profound behavioural development opportunities, while a community action learning project provides an opportunity for employing social responsibility.

The community project is a fantastic example of BAE Systems investment in education. The graduates engage with hundreds of primary school children to inspire a future generation about the work BAE Systems does. Working with a generation of graduates that are increasingly motivated by meaningful work, and aligning their values with their company - the project gives an opportunity to develop and inspire children, with a focus on the necessity of STEM subject skills and gender and racial diversity in this sector.

The third and final module involves pre-work before a one-day event that works with graduates on offboarding, energy resilience and wellbeing. It also offers a senior managers clinic, an alumni session and 360 feedback.


A programme intrinsically linked to organisational competencies, results and evaluation is essential for BAE Systems. The programme numbers have increased every year, as have the statistical results. On an individual level, the 600+ past participants scored the programme 4.3 of a possible 5 when asked whether the programme will hugely benefit them personally.

The live business projects set by key stakeholders work on real business challenges and ideas have been progressed outside of the programme to generate real benefits to BAE Systems. The programme feeds into the wider graduate journey and is an integral part of their graduate development framework, developing the behavioural competencies that are fundamental to establishing a successful career within BAE Systems.

The programme was shortlisted as a finalist for Personnel Today Awards Graduate Scheme of the Year 2016, cited as an “impressive scheme linked to business benefit with more resources than others and a full blended range of learning interventions for graduates.”

Thoughts from a participant

"The training and responsibility given to graduates at BAE Systems has exceeded my expectations! The 'Graduate Developing You' course gives you the knowledge and skills to accelerate your development and make the most out of all of the opportunities across the business.”

Thoughts from the client

“The GDY programme provides a great platform for graduates to develop their mind-set and skills-set, preparing them for future roles within the business. The programme is aligned to the global leadership behaviours which outline what is expected from our leaders now and in the future.

The GDY offers an opportunity for the graduates to collaborate across the different business areas in the UK and overseas. This strengthens their networks and creates a graduate community of practise that they can draw on throughout their careers, equally providing them with peer support when moving business areas. Graduates are asked to undertake ‘work placed projects’ which not only deliver benefits to the business but also strengthens the relationships with business stakeholders and senior leaders who act as sponsors for this activity.

The programme leverages a variety of experiences for graduates including teamwork opportunities derived from Impact’s adventurous outdoor activity, workplace activities which provide real experience of business challenges, insights into other business areas, opportunities for reflection, and practical theory that they can learn from and then apply.

This is an innovative programme which increases workplace capability and provides a strong return on investment”.

-        Karen Gregson, BAE Systems’ UK Learning and Development Lead