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Code Your Future: A Year in Review – Part One


I’m looking back at the second year of our continuing partnership with Code Your Future, who support refugees and disadvantaged individuals with the dream of becoming software developers and coders.  We were the first corporate partner to offer end-to-end support of CYF’s web developer training programme. This saw us establishing a new digital academy in 2018 with a facilitated eight-month training course for the first cohort of 25 students in London and the prospect of employment at the end.

This year, it has been all about scaling up. We’ve supported CYF’s expansion into the West Midlands, and increased our student intake to 67 – through another London programme and a new one in Birmingham. Volunteers from our business are also working with established CYF academies in Glasgow and Manchester

The blueprint for this successful partnership has been acknowledged by winning the Business Charity Awards and the Global Good Awards . Both recognise how we’ve gone beyond the training itself to embrace mentoring, business coaching and support in and out of work, particularly for the seven graduates now employed with us.

What’s clear is that this programme is so much about the people. So, I wanted to check in with some of our CYF graduates to find how this year has been.

 A life changing experience

Our CYF graduates come from diverse backgrounds, reflecting what Code Your Future describes as a “journey of interrupted lives, unfinished studies and integration challenges”.  It is no wonder then that this has been a life changing experience for them all.

We recognised from the outset that the graduates would need support beyond just tech training. Our CYF programme has aimed to prepare them as best as possible for a career in technology at Capgemini. This includes homework clubs in our offices, hackathons giving real work experience, and mentoring.

Madiha Khan is currently working on the DEFRA account and says: “I’m not the same person I was before. I had taken lots of small jobs simply to make ends meet before joining Code Your Future and I knew things had to change. I especially enjoy the culture here. It is happy and supporting and has changed me as a person.”

For Ahmet Kucukibrahimoglu working on the Centrica account, spending more time at home courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic is just one of many new things he’s adjusted to. “After 15 years in the military and working as a teacher’s assistant I’d never coded before. So, lots has changed. But perhaps the biggest change has been for my family. They’re seeing me in front of my computer all the time. My daughter is only eight and has already started learning coding as a result!”

From brewing coffee to coding. That’s the life journey Ivina Pontes has been on. She’s now working on the DEFRA account and says: “Before getting involved in Code Your Future I had been a barista in a coffee shop, so my life has changed a lot. It is a completely different environment. I have grown a great deal, for example in how I approach problems.”

 Ongoing learning

“There is a sea of learning available to us.” This comment from Madiha echoes how all the CYF graduates feel. Ongoing learning sits at the heart of their experience and reflects our Group approach to meeting skills gaps in the IT industry and bringing greater social mobility through education.

Ivina shows a real thirst to develop and learn, saying that she learns something new every day. “I have discovered that being a software developer involves a lot of communication and reaching out to different teams. There’s plenty of collaboration and it is not just sitting in front of a laptop.”

She is also acquiring skills in other areas. “My highlight has been helping to organize the hackathon. Last year I was a participant but this year I was seeing it as an organizer. It was exciting to see the amazing projects and I’ve enjoyed building my network within Capgemini through it.”

Like Ivina, Mohsen Moradi is continually learning. He is working on the McDonald’s account and says: “I’d never used Java before, so I have had to learn a completely new programming language.” He has also seized the opportunity to make regular use of our online learning platform and takes part in a half-day of team training every Friday.

For others, learning has come in different guises, including the incredible support of volunteer mentors. They provide coaching in soft skills, such as interviews and communications. Some of the CYF graduates are now sharing these skills with others. For example, Madiha is a mentor for the new CYF cohort, which she says has been a big highlight for her. “I have worked with colleagues to deliver training in areas such as communication techniques and conflict resolution. I can now see how much hard work goes in to designing the training, which perhaps I had not realised when I was going through it myself.”

Madiha believes that Capgemini’s culture of learning will help to build a career. “I see myself progressing and achieving my goals. It is looking promising. This is our platform to learn quickly and enhance techniques. I am going forward. I don’t know where to at the moment, but I will be in a better place in the future.”

Overcoming challenging times

It’s been a tough time to join the workforce as many of us have switched to working from home. How have the CYF graduates coped with this?

Mohsen has perhaps faced one of the biggest challenges, as he explains: “I joined Capgemini in March just as lockdown was about to begin. Staying at home in a new job, in a new town (I moved to Telford) has been hard as it’s difficult to make friends remotely. But I’ve been trying out new things, like cooking and baking, and enjoying doing some robotics. I also joined a TechChallenge team from Telford and we won a team prize, which was good.”

In fact, Mohsen describes his involvement in the TechChallenge as a highlight of 2020. “On the day I came for interview here, people were presenting the hackathon and I said I wanted to do something like that once I joined. So, I did!”

From losing a job, to finding a job, Joan Yassi has a positive take on the impact of COVID-19. He is working on the Barclays account and comments: “I’d joined a start-up after graduating from CYF and things were moving so fast there wasn’t much time for anyone to mentor me. Then COVID hit and the company had to downsize. I was lucky to be invited to join Capgemini and now have a structure to my career and can easily imagine where I will be a year from now.”

Finding time to chat and ways to socialize

Starting a new job is all about getting to know your colleagues and learning how things work. This has been difficult throughout 2020 but the CYF graduates have found ways to make it happen, from regular team quizzes and weekly online catch-ups. For example, Joan has been experiencing using a collaborative communication platform. “It is really interesting and allows us to interact with people around the world, so we’re collaborating with colleagues beyond our own UK business.”

Madiha values the fun times that offer the chance to relax away from the work environment. “It is easy to get stuck to your chair without a break when you’re working from home. You don’t have to catch a train to get to work, so you just don’t stop. Our sprints can be challenging and stressful, so we keep coming up with new ideas to relax and have fun as a team. For example, we had a virtual meal celebration that we all joined at the same time. We need to keep coming up with ideas like this.”

This is echoed by Mohsen who has benefited from a daily team call. “We use this to talk about the day, share jokes and laugh, which is good for me as I am shy. We also have a quiz regularly, and this has helped me to get to know people better. In our weekly Friday team call, we go back through the week to talk about what did or didn’t work well and assign actions for people to take the following week.”

Activities like the hackathon also offer a means for the graduates to engage with others, while giving back to the CYF programme as they get involved with supporting the newest cohort of graduates.

Support from employee mentors, managers and colleagues

The ongoing support is part of Capgemini’s culture. Madiha comments: “100% of the people I have come into contact with live up to Capgemini’s core values. There is plenty to help us achieve our goals. For example, my project manager regularly sends me emails to check if I need help or want feedback and to let me know if there’s something coming up that might interest me. Even if you don’t reach out, it reaches out to you.”

Ahmet is working on a long-term client project and has been supported throughout by a Capgemini ‘buddy’. He says: “It has helped me settle in. Every step I have taken has been made more comfortable because of this and Capgemini’s culture and values. I have learned lots during my journey and feel I have started to contribute to the team.”

The support received by the Code Your Future graduates also comes from the teams they’re working in, as Ivina’s experience demonstrates: “I come from a hierarchical culture where senior people aren’t expected to consider all views. Here it is very different. Even though I am junior, I can say what I think, and the other project team members listen and embrace my ideas. We share our opinions. If you need help or have questions, everyone is approachable, whether they are senior or junior. We can be open with each other.”

Joan clearly has no doubt about the huge value he’s gained from the programme matching CYF students with Capgemini people. “I had a mentor for six months and she supported me through my first job interview, then again when I came for interview at Capgemini. I think she will be a mentor to me all my life!”

To find out how our CYF graduates have made an impact on our teams, business and clients, look out for my next blog, in which I talk to some of their team leaders and mentors.

To find out more about the first year of our programme here.


Sally Caughey, UK Head of Digital Inclusion

Throughout her career with Capgemini, Sally has worked in various roles on client transformation programmes. She’s a passionate advocate of the positive difference technology and digital solutions can bring to every organisation and individual, and in 2015 she was part of the team that set up the Careers and Enterprise Company, dedicated to preparing and inspiring young people for the changing world of work. Leading Capgemini’s digital inclusion programme in the UK since 2018, she’s focused on how business can help to make sure that everyone can benefit from the digital revolution.