European Graduate Programme

Sony is a global manufacturer of audio, video, communications and information technology products for consumer and professional markets. Sony Europe’s headquarters are in Berlin.


The Sony European Graduate Programme attracts some of the most talented graduates from across Europe. During a two-year induction programme, the 15 graduates experience placements across Sony’s many functions and develop advanced business skills.


Sony know that engaging talented people means offering them big, real challenges and giving them the space to use their creativity and skills to have a real impact. With this in mind, they wanted to add a new element to their Graduate Programme. Sony wanted their graduates to collaborate in groups and apply their business skills to make a real contribution to a social project.

Sony asked Impact UK to create a programme for their graduates that would:

•    Develop business skills through applying them in different situations
•    Highlight transferable inter-personal skills and personal values
•    Align with Sony’s CSR values and contribute towards graduate engagement
•    Deliver a real, valuable result to a genuine client


Impact created a unique intervention that brought these learning and development needs together with Sony’s strategic Corporate Social Responsibility priorities. Collaborating with Sony’s existing community partnership with streetfootballworld, Impact identified three community football organisations from across the world, who all had a capacity building issue. The European graduates and the community partners from Kenya, the UK and USA were then brought together for a two-day launch event that introduced a five-month business project.

The launch event saw the graduates spend two days working in small groups, meeting and consulting with their community client. Working in partnership they identified new revenue generating activities. For two community partners this centred on bringing new consumer products to market, whilst for the third it was about developing services to offer to local schools. For all three organisations these activities were vital to their financial sustainability, and demanded the graduates applied their business skills into a new business and cultural environment.

Impact facilitators worked alongside the graduate teams to help them develop their ability to work effectively in small teams, review their processes, offer feedback and drive high performance.

The project continued for five months, in which the graduates (who are mostly based in different countries) worked virtually with each other and their client. During this period each group had three one-hour calls with their Impact facilitator to focus their learning and review personal and team development.

The finale event brought the graduates and community partners together for one-day in the UK. Each group made a presentation to a senior audience, including their mentors and the president of Sony Europe, making it a very high pressure environment for them. Presentations focused on ‘learning’ and application to their careers at Sony in addition to the success of the projects.

Return on Investment

Retention: highest ever retention rates with 93% remaining with Sony
Recruitment: programme development directly contributed to a significant increase in applications for subsequent intakes


The programme objectives were met through linking learning and development with real business issues.

Working with Impact on the development of this unique approach to Graduate Development was an energising experience. The Impact Consultants were able to work closely with me to develop the concept of these business projects, both in terms of the learning and development agenda and through ensuring the value of the work our graduates have delivered for these community organisations. The projects covered all of the themes we aimed at – from application of business skills to supporting our strategic CSR agenda.  

In terms of outcomes, these clearly came out. We had the highest ever retention for the programme, which was 93% or every graduate who wanted to stay within Sony did so. An added benefit was that we developed a new selling point for our graduate programme, which we believe directly contributed towards a significant increase in applications for the graduate programme this year.
Richard Bennett
People & Organisational Development Manager

What the participants thought:
‘This programme will help me develop researching skills, summarising ideas and how best to listen to and understand my team’

‘An excellent experience, good for project scoping and planning experience’

‘This was a wonderful opportunity to work with a not-for-profit organisation and work as a team’

Further Information

Read more about Impact's approach to Graduate Development