Eilidh Dillon - GSK

Eilidh Dillon is a former Entrepreneurial Scotland Saltire Scholar, having been part of the cohort in 2010. Her programme placement was with GlaxoSmithKline in both Montrose and Singapore, and she went on to secure a permanent role with GSK following her graduation. Since then, she has progressed with the company and is currently Director of Operational Excellence for Vaccines at GSK, based in Belgium.

Having been given an opportunity that she believes shaped her career and her life, Eilidh has led her teams and colleagues at GSK to take on almost 100 Saltire Scholars.

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THE OPPORTUNITY:

Eilidh has been hosting interns in addition to her roles within the business at GSK for more than ten years.

In 2020, she hosted 11 interns, and advocates the benefits for both businesses, and the Saltire Scholars themselves.

Eilidh continues to host scholars from the Entrepreneurial Scotland Saltire Scholar Programme, because she is confident in the calibre of talent, she will have a chance to work with. She says, “We take on Saltire Scholars because the way the team recruits is very holistic. What you tend to get is people who have huge amounts of enthusiasm, because the Saltire team look very carefully at leadership potential. The process to get on the programme isn’t easy, so you know those who do get the chance to be part of it, are very driven when they arrive.

“The Saltire Scholars already have an element of onboarding in terms of their excitement and desire to deliver. They may not hit the ground running, because many of them are new to the business environment, but they do tend to hit the ground full of energy and then we help them run. We get those types of people that are ready to go, and that is why we recruit from the Saltire Scholar talent pool.

Taking on interns, that are consistently of a very high quality, allows us to bring talent into the business, work with them, support them in their development, and hopefully attract them back into our business in the future.”

Eilidh also believes that the programme offers a real diversity of candidates. She explains; “Saltire candidates are always diverse in that they come from different universities, different courses and different backgrounds. That’s of real benefit to me and the business, because it brings fresh perspective, experience, energy and ideas.

For example, one of the interns in 2019 had a geography degree, a background not many of our teams have, but the Scholar brought a lot to the business, much like many others we’ve brought on board with a different degree, interest, or passion. For us, we get the chance to see different views or ideas and for the Scholars, they get the chance to try something new and flourish in different areas.”

We see the Saltire Scholars as a pipeline for future leaders, that can really add value by bringing energy and drive, as well as a fresh new perspective to projects and to th wider business. It’s a way for us to seek out the best talent. Every single Saltire Scholar that I’ve hosted has been full of energy, passion, and desire to learn.

THE OUTCOME:

With a unique perspective having been on the programme herself, Eilidh is also passionate about the opportunities for the Scholars. She says, “I’m testament to the prospects open for Saltire Scholars themselves too. As a business, our retention rate of those Scholars is around 16%. It’s an opportunity that can really open doors for the long term.”

With drive and determination to offer every Scholar she hosts a life changing experience - like the one she believes she had.

Eilidh explains that, as Director of Operational Excellence for Vaccines, hosting Scholars is not part of her role, but is an opportunity that gives her an enormous amount of energy and drive. She explains the benefits of hosting; “There are so many personal benefits to hosting for me. The Saltire Scholar Internship Programme fundamentally changed my life. I believe every Saltire scholar has a responsibility to give back, because we’ve been given such an incredible experience. I want to be able to give that opportunity back to as many others as I can.”

Not only that, but Eilidh has also built an enviable network from the Scholars that she’s hosted over the past ten years.

She says, “Hosting Scholars over the past ten years has certainly helped me to build my own personal network. Some of those contacts and Scholars are still with GSK, so that has helped broaden my knowledge of our business more broadly, but many are with other businesses and in other industries. It’s incredibly valuable to be connected with such a rich community of talent.

From a business perspective and a personal one, it’s incredibly beneficial.”

I really try to ensure we find projects within the business that stretch and develop the intern. It’s really important to me to match each intern with a manager who inspires and challenges them and gives them enough space to learn and see the rest of the organisation, whilst growing as an individual.

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If you would like to talk to Entrepreneurial Scotland about hosting a Saltire Scholar, and how this can benefit your business, please email: gillian.mcgill@entrepreneurialscotland.com