WSP’s 2022 Award-Winning Graduate Development Programme.

In the domain of professional development, designing a programme that not only aligns with the organisational purpose but also deeply resonates with graduates can be a challenge. WSP achieved just that with their award-winning NZAGE 2022 Best Graduate Development Programme submission. Megan Herlihey, WSP Manager of Entry Programmes, recently shared an overview of their programme with NZAGE members during an online forum.

WSP’s journey began in 2018 when they set out to create a programme that embodied their commitment to “creating what matters for future generations.” To achieve this, they embarked on a journey of consultation and collaboration. They sought input from various corners of the business, engaging with business managers, senior leaders, and, most importantly, their then-graduates.

The programme had to be more than just a curriculum; it had to be a platform for growth and development. This resulted in the creation of a four-year programme designed to help engineering graduates obtain their chartership while equipping them with the skills necessary to navigate an ever-evolving work environment.

The programme’s blueprint included a wide array of professional workshops, social learning connections, on-the-job learning opportunities‌ and recommendations for each year. It aimed not only to engage and motivate graduates to remain within the business but also to support them in gaining their professional registration and exposing them to various opportunities outside the programme. Innovation and effective communication were at its core.

Changes and Challenges

Fast forward to the present day, and you’ll notice significant changes in WSP’s graduate development programme. One of the most notable was the reduction of the programme from four years to two. Feedback drove this change, both internal and external. Some perceived the four-year programme as too lengthy, while others found it restrictive.

The challenge lay in convincing those who valued the four-year format and had played instrumental roles in its inception. This required patience, agility‌ and a willingness to adapt. Another significant shift was the removal of the “graduate” title at the end of the second year. WSP also introduced global networking, two new learning programmes‌ and a course completion certificate.

The Accelerator Programme

But what happened to the content initially planned for years three and four? It was transformed into a standalone programme called the Accelerator. This programme is now viewed as an entry leadership programme, offering participants the chance to build leadership capabilities and commercial acumen. Graduates now have the freedom to choose between the Accelerator and other career paths upon programme completion.

The WSP Graduate Committee

The WSP Graduate Committee, comprised of accelerators and current second-year graduates, plays a pivotal role in building a sense of community among graduates. They organise newsletters, webinars, competitions‌ and events, fostering a vibrant community regardless of geographic locations.

WSP’s commitment to continuous improvement is evident in its dedication to refining elements like national induction based on lessons learned from previous years. They also ensure that each event, whether virtual or in-person, offers something unique to their graduates.

Measuring Success

Success measurement for WSP’s graduate programme includes surveys, direct feedback, performance reviews, utilisation data‌ and the insights gathered from their in-house learning tool. Effective communication and networking skills remain critical to graduates’ success in their early careers.

Megan’s parting words offer valuable lessons for those embarking on a similar journey: patience, agility, nurturing allies‌ and an openness to new ideas. Her insights reminded attendees that creating an outstanding graduate programme is an ongoing process that requires adaptability and a dedication to providing graduates with the best possible start to their careers.

WSP’s graduate development programme is a fantastic example of how innovation and adaptation can lead to excellence. By listening to feedback, being open to change, and continuously striving for improvement, they haven’t only transformed their programme but also empowered their graduates to thrive in the ever-evolving professional landscape.

Stay tuned for the next NZAGE forum event highlighting EY’s winning submission on Best Graduate Campaign to be held online on 11th October – for the zoom link contact

You can read about other 2022 NZAGE award-winning programmes on the below links.

Empowering Women in Tech: MYOB’s DevelopHer Programme Receives the 2022 NZAGE Best Innovation Award. – NZAGE

Enhancing Candidate Experience: Insights from the NZAGE 2022 Best Candidate Experience Award Winners – Tonkin & Taylor. – NZAGE

Don’t forget the 2023 NZAGE Industry Awards are now open – for further information and submission requirements reach out to


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