Disrupting the traditional graduate career path
The world has gone digital, but the career path for graduates is still the same. The Times Top 100 graduate employers features just one technology company in its top 10.
We met co-founders Ashley Ramrachia and Saul Klein at the start of their journey to tackle the digital skills gap. Their pioneering model provides graduates with a route into tech leadership by combining world-class digital training with entry into a top company.
But first they needed help figuring out how to tempt smart, diverse students away from the traditional graduate training schemes.
During focus groups with the people that matter most – students who could be future members – we discovered that category perceptions were characterised by guys in hoodies competing in hackathons. Despite a career in tech being the quickest route to leadership, graduates didn’t identify with the stereotype.
To overcome the perception barrier, we needed the brand to challenge category clichés, while reinforcing career opportunities. This led to Academy’s brand idea: Place to progress. That meant progressing further and faster in your own career, while being part of a movement towards greater diversity in tech.
Bold, confident language, combined with portrait photography of Academy’s diverse membership helped build relevance with a young audience. A memorable graphic device inspired by the name and Academy’s Manchester origins subtly symbolised the idea of progress and has since created visual stand out on social media and elsewhere in brand marketing.
Since launching the brand, graduate interest in Academy has surpassed expectations. 30,000 people visited the website in the first year, resulting in more than 3,000 direct applications per quarter. Thanks to the brand generating so much interest, Academy has an acceptance rate of 0.05% – making it more selective than Google.
The brand has also been instrumental in helping Academy meet its ambition to attract a diverse student audience. Of the students accepted onto the course, over 50% are female, over 60% are from a minority ethnic background and 30% identify as black.
The brand proposition has resonated with investors and partners too – Academy secured $4m seed round funding led by LocalGlobe, with investment from leading industry operators that include Microsoft, Slack, and GoCardless. Current partners include Sequoia Capital, Index Ventures and Y Combinator.
Cutler+Goddard instantly connected with our vision and became part of the team. They helped us develop a brand strategy and visual identity that has since resonated with an incredibly diverse mix of smart talent. With Zayn and Pete as creative partners, Academy is becoming an aspirational place for graduates to kick start their careers.
– Ashley Ramrachia, Co-founder & CEO, Academy