Consultancy firm BSG hunts for IT graduates

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 30 May 2023

Home-grown consultancy firm Business Systems Group (BSG) is looking to hire more IT graduates from local universities.

So says Laura Dunstan-Smith, principal leader and capability lead at BSG, in an e-mail interview with ITWeb.

The IT graduate programme has been instrumental in the growth of the consultancy since it was established by founder Greg Reis about 26 years ago, it says.

This year, BSG hired 27 Honours graduates across its multi-skilled delivery and technology capabilities unit, notes Dunstan-Smith.

The recruitment drive comes after former MTN SA and Altron CEO Mteto Nyati bought a controlling 40% stake in BSG.

For the programme, BSG partners with varsities such as Rhodes, Wits, University of Cape Town, University of Pretoria, University of Johannesburg, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Western Cape and Stellenbosch.

“Growing BSG through graduate recruitment remains a priority for us and we welcome applications for our graduate recruitment programme through the careers page on the BSG website,” says Dunstan-Smith.

Seeking tenacity

Describing how the company selects graduates, she explains: “At BSG, we believe in finding the sweet spot in the integration of the head, hand and heart. We seek those students who have demonstrated the tenacity and discipline to achieve their best academic results possible, and more importantly, who strive to make a positive difference around them.

“The major degrees we focus on are Information Systems, Computer Science, Engineering and Applied Maths.”

On how the initiative is driving job creation in the country, Dunstan-Smith explains that BSG does this in two ways.

“Firstly, we offer our Grad Flex Series to over 500 students during their academic year. This series includes important subjects, like: ‘How to make the best career choices’, ‘How to interview successfully’, and ‘How to transition into the world of work’.

“Secondly, we offer 30+ permanent employment opportunities at BSG. The first year is a focused development programme, covering a mix of technical and engagement skills, such as communication and emotional intelligence mastery.

“BSG’s starting salary is competitive and market-related,” she notes.

It is an employee-driven career acceleration model, where the individual has sight of what knowledge, skills and attributes are required at the next level.

This, to a large degree, provides the potential to drive their own earning power, she adds.

According to Dunstan-Smith, the programme is structured to build on the skills the graduates learnt at university.

“We provide formal learning to help provide the theory behind the skills and competencies required for success in consulting. We have designed several bootcamps that support graduates in the learning process and transitioning from university into the working world.

“By the end of the year-long programme, our consultants and developers have grown into proficient and confident young consultants.”

She adds that digital transformation means perpetual learning is essential, and BSG is committed to ensuring its people are well-positioned to drive their careers forward.

“Through our career acceleration models – an outline of skills, certifications and experience required – we ensure our people know where they fit in and what they need to achieve promotion.

“An offer to join our graduate programme is a permanent offer of employment with BSG. When we recruit candidates into the BSG team, we create career significance by ensuring not only a skills-fit, but also a values-fit.

“BSG attracts top talent from diverse backgrounds, who resonate with the fact BSG is locally-founded and has a proven investment in SA’s success. This culture fit has proven successful, with teams enjoying prolific careers at BSG.”

Stepping up STEM

While there is some concern that local universities are not producing job-ready ICT students, Dunstan-Smith says the company still sees students of high calibre graduating from South African universities.

She also points to the effort many of the ICT-related departments put into continuously improving their curricula and incorporating feedback from the industry to ensure job readiness.

BSG has representatives on several university industry advisory boards.

According to Dunstan-Smith, more concerning is how few science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) graduates South African universities produce.

“Research shows that of the one million children who started grade one with the current Honours year, only 7% will receive an undergraduate degree; only 2.4% of those one million will go on to graduate with an Honours degree.

“A mere 0.6% of that one million will get an honours degree in a STEM-based subject. STEM skills are critical to solving some of our most pressing social issues. We need to increase the number of high school students able to apply for STEM degrees. This is why we are also passionate about growing STEM skills at a high school level through our partnership with LEAP Science and Maths Schools.”

She points out that Greg Reis started BSG 26 years ago with a vision to create a home-grown business that would challenge the large global consulting companies present in SA.

With a strategy to build BSG through harnessing the best young talent, she adds, he did this by developing strong relationships with universities focused on STEM-based degrees.

“As Greg’s understanding of the depth of the challenge of education in SA grew, so too did the realisation that BSG’s contribution needed to start far earlier in a young individual’s learning journey. This eventually led to the formation of a deep relationship with the LEAP Science and Maths Schools.”