Akzo Nobel Graduate Programme

Ongoing graduate training programme for new-starters to augment
their induction process


Tangram had previously worked with the in-house training team at Akzo and were asked to put forward ideas on how the new graduate induction might work. From these discussions a multi-year programme was introduced that saw Tangram running a three-day off-site course that ‘got back to basics’. This had the desired culture shock and grounding for these expectant new employees.

Physical and mental challenges were combined with gust speakers to ensure the culture and ethos of Akzo was embedded early on. Much was also made of the transition from student life into a new work environment. From it’s initial launch, the programme has ben further developed by brining back the previous year’s intake to help run the current course – thus building an informal network of these potential high achievers. 

AkzoNobel Graduate programme 7th - 9th September 2014 - 361


Akzo Nobel has a 60,000 strong workforce with around 10,000 based in the UK. Each year they recruit graduates from careers fairs all over Europe and then send them off to their respective countries to do their jobs. Around 13,000 applications are received each year with around 10-15 being taken on.

The training team within Akzo had recognised the power of developing new graduates hired for the business to be able to form a strong informal team – to aid their own development and enhance business performance.


The new graduates who had joined Akzo Nobel in the past did so in such a way that they went off into the big wide world that is Akzo on their own. They had to learn on their own, do things on their own and had nowhere or no one to turn to when they needed to ‘talk’.

The company did not have the skills or experience internally to run such an innovative programme. Tangram were consulted, we pitched our ideas and have been running the course annually ever since.


Each September, Tangram Training takes the new Akzo Nobel graduates away to Longridge Outdoor Centre in Marlow for three days. The term ‘Teambuilding’ springs to mind at this point. However, you can also apply the term of ‘network building’.

We were going to build the grads into a strong cohesive network that could share ideas, share best practice and just be friends. After all when they went off to their respective business units within Akzo they didn’t really need to be a team. Over the course of the three days, through careful and thoughtful facilitation of the experiential team challenge and a good dose of humour the team began to open up and share their thoughts, feelings and emotions.

The most powerful session with the grads is the ‘River of Life’ one that gets them thinking about how they got to where they are now… Which twists, turns and meanders have they followed throughout their lives. Which tributaries they came from, which obstacles they overcame to be here, one of the few, who got through.

AkzoNobel Graduate programme 7th - 9th September 2014 - 030

AkzoNobel Graduate programme 7th - 9th September 2014 - 247

AkzoNobel Graduate programme 7th - 9th September 2014 - 336

AkzoNobel Graduate programme 7th - 9th September 2014 - 407


  • A group of individuals that came from many different walks of life who are now a strong, cohesive network who can go off into their careers with confidence knowing that someone else ‘has got your back’.

  • For many, the reality of moving from their University course to full-time employment is challenging. The session we ran on this proved really beneficial to all as everyone realised they were all in the same boat

  • The group also came to realise that they were able to keep going when things began to get tough. This resilience generated out of group harmony.

As always, the course delivered exactly what it set out to achieve. I know a few of the attendees have had a rude awakening to working life and a few more have surprised us with their keenness to try anything and get stuck in. Thank you.

Evelyn Hadley
Learning and Development Manager