Gradunique: Developing high-performing graduates for leadership roles

Third Sector Promotion British Heart Foundation

Do you have what it takes to be a future leader? The British Heart Foundation and Macmillan are now recruiting for their third intake of graduates.

Gradunique is a graduate programme which is jointly run by the British Heart Foundation and Macmillan Cancer Support, aimed at high-performing graduates who want to fast-track their careers.

Third Sector Jobs spoke to Julie Jones at the British Heart Foundation and Andrew Hyland at Macmillan, to find out more about the scheme and the unique opportunities it offers.

Tell me about the ‘Gradunique’ scheme

The scheme is a unique graduate programme designed to attract high-performing graduates and develop them for leadership roles. It is sponsored by two leading charities which are national brands and household names.

To attract the most talented graduates, we devised a programme to compete with similar offers from other major international and national organisations in terms of the training, remuneration and opportunities offered. It is for this reason that the two sponsoring organisations pooled their talent and resources to create this unique programme.

What makes this graduate scheme different from others?

Gradunique offers the opportunity to experience a range of functions and departments via four six-month placements. Where Gradunique differs from other schemes is that these placements take place across two organisations. This gives the graduates the opportunity to experience and learn from how different organisations operate: this is helpful in building their flexibility; their ability to put their learning into action within a new environment; and so further build their confidence. 

What training and support is provided?

The graduates have a comprehensive support package including regular access to the host organisation’s graduate programme lead, an online portal and a buddy in each work placement. As well as learning on the job, each graduate has a mentor, and attends quarterly action learning style events with their fellow graduate peers. They also attend more formal learning events such as face-to-face workshops and have opportunities to play an active role in high profile events to grow their skills, knowledge and networks.   

The programme isn’t a theoretical training exercise: the graduates are expected to, and do, make a real impact on major national projects across the organisations whilst they’re developing their communication, team working, leadership and project management skills.

How are your existing graduate recruits doing?

We have been delighted with the very talented graduates we have recruited and what they have achieved within the first two years of the programme. Equally importantly, the feedback from the graduates about the programme has been extremely positive.

The programme itself was a finalist for the Graduate Scheme of the Year (Personnel Today Awards, November 2017), alongside four other major national organisations, which is an indication that the Gradunique offering to graduates is one of the best available.

What happens at the end of the two-year programme? 

We hope the graduates will pursue their careers with one of the sponsoring organisations. Either way, through a blend of formal training, experience and skills development, the graduates will be in a strong position to seek management roles across the commercial, public or charity sectors. 

Tell me more about the ‘sponsoring organisations’ that you refer to

British Heart Foundation and Macmillan Cancer Support. Both are major and leading national organisations that are renowned within their fields: Macmillan for improving the lives of everyone who lives with cancer and the British Heart Foundation for research into heart and circulatory disease.

Both organisations depend upon public support and as such have to be, and be seen to be, highly efficient and commercial to maximise the benefit to society of every pound they receive.

As such, Gradunique focuses on developing skills that are equally applicable across the commercial, public and charity sectors.

Why should graduates apply for Gradunique?

  • A highly competitive starting salary of £24,000
  • First-rate training across two leading organisations
  • The opportunity to work on real projects that have an impact 
  • A healthy work/life balance
  • Based in Central London

On completion of the two-year programme, the graduates will have a strong platform from which to launch their talent, skills and experience towards a career in leadership. 

We hope they’ll want to join us in an even greater ambition – making an impact in the fight against heart disease and improving the lives of everyone who lives with cancer. 

What pre-requisites should applicants have?

You will need to be a recent graduate with an upper second class degree or above. You will need to be ambitious with a hunger to learn and an appetite for real responsibility.

Heart disease and cancer affect all communities. We want our recruits to be representative of all the communities we serve and for the Gradunique programme we are seeking to attract and employ the best people from the widest talent pool, reflecting the diverse nature of our society.

Want to find out more?

For further details, including interviews with current members on the programme, please visit and/or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Applications for the 2018 programme are now open.

Browse other job vacancies from the British Heart Foundation

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