We spoke to Zeeshan Nazar about his experience on the Graduate scheme and the advice he'd offer upcoming BAME Graduates for navigating the working world

Tell us who you are and what you do.

I'm a Commercial Manager on the Commercial Management Graduate programme. My role has a specific focus on the major contracts we have with other multi-national companies (MNCs) within the Global division. We have multi-million and billion-pound contracts with MNCs across the world, and as Contract Managers are in charge of running these. The day-to-day roles are so vast, which continues to challenge me and take me to new heights.

When did you start looking for a Graduate role?

I started looking for Graduate schemes in the summer prior to my final year at university, so I could research companies and roles that were appealing to me, and have enough time to familiarise myself with their application process and do my own research into the company. 

I think it's really important to start early. I remember most of my peers weren't thinking about post-graduation, but doing research early gives you time to submit high-quality applications. 

What stood out for you during our Grad scheme application process?

BT was very accommodating during the application process and even guided my group to the prayer rooms should we need it. I know that Graduates applying to other companies didn't have the same experience as I did. I’d always say, you should stay true to yourself and not compromise on your values. If a company doesn't allow you to embrace your values, then they're not the right fit for you, regardless of whether it was your dream role or not. 

What do you think about ERAP (Ethnicity Rapid Action Plan) that BT launched?

For me, the most important aspect about the ERAP is that BT is not only talking the talk but also walking the walk. It’s fantastic to see that there is actual substance behind their words in wanting to become a more inclusive employer. I spoke with Michael Sherman (Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer) who devised ERAP alongside Philip Jansen (Chief Executive), and it really highlighted how it would actually help Ethnic Minorities such as myself but also future generations to come. In my view, the plan helps Ethnic Minorities in ways which I or others haven’t yet seen before and this is the key to continuing in being a multi-inclusive employer. 

What’s it like being a part of the Muslim Network and what is its objective?

Being part of the Muslim Network has really allowed me to give back to BT in a way that I don’t always show through my day-to-day role. Not only has it been great to meet, learn and work with fellow members, but the network has allowed me to play a leading role in our overall strategy and purpose as a network. 

A recent Government report highlighted that despite young Muslims achieving excellent grades through their education, they had some of the worst employment prospects out of any demographic within the UK. I took it upon myself to pitch the report to the network Chairs where we used it as a framework to help tackle this problem for both Graduates and Apprentices. From this we created a new function called the ‘Mentorship & Talent Events’ to which I am lead. We host online events targeted at Graduate schemes, roles and industry sectors that ethnic minorities may not be aware of, as well as panel sessions, networking and career talks. Our first online event was a big hit - we're not just here to regurgitate tips from Google, but rather provide a different edge. 
My goal is to maximise the platform and show these young people that BT is a place you can forge a great career, and allow you to be proud of your identity and expressing your faith. It’s been a fantastic way to give back not only to the network but also to challenge pre-conceptions some may have about BT and therefore attract a diverse applicant pool. 

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