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A CEO at 22

At age 22, Hannah Mourney already knows what it’s like to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company thanks to an innovative program that has attracted thousands of applicants. She tells us about the program and what she was able to learn from her time in the role.

Hannah Mourney hasn’t even graduated from university yet, but has more knowledge of being a CEO than most of us ever will. Well, for that matter, she has more experience in the role than many of us will ever know.

Hannah, 22, who is studying for a double degree in biomedical engineering and the arts, completed a one-month CEO internship with Adecco in August after competing against more than 4000 applicants for the role.

The internship - which has now been offered for the past five years - allows one tertiary education student in Australia the chance to shadow Rafael Moyano, Australian CEO of The Adecco Group and take on the role of CEO for a full month.

“I first saw the program advertised online and, after clicking on a few links, was completely drawn in by the experiences of last year’s Global CEO for One Month, Ed Broadhead,” Hannah says of her decision to apply.

“I didn’t need a lot of encouragement. After a little bit of research I was completely sold on the uniqueness of the opportunity. For a global Fortune 500 company to put so much effort and energy into a program designed to hear the voices of young people around the world was inspiring and I knew I wouldn’t come across another opportunity like CEO for One Month.”

Moyano says Hannah impressed the judging panel with her analytical skills and her “passion for empowering women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects” having proactively launched the University of Sydney’s Women in Engineering Mentoring Network.

Hannah, who is still undecided on whether to pursue a career as a biomedical engineer or in business, is keen to be a CEO and says she feels there is still “a significant amount of work to do to ensure that women and non-binary individuals, have the same opportunity as men in STEM industries”.

“There are a lot of programs around to help support and encourage women in the engineering industry, so much so that a few women will never feel that they have faced discrimination because of their gender,” Hannah says.

“This is great. However, the numbers speak for themselves and less than 30 per cent of engineering and IT students at top universities are female. I’m an advocate because I believe there is still work to do, particularly in empowering women and other minority groups to study STEM subjects at school.

“I believe girls are still taught that STEM careers aren’t for them. Personally, I believe schools and parents need to change their messaging around STEM subjects so there isn’t as much pressure around being the best at a subject.”

Hannah says the experience of being CEO, where she shadowed Moyano attending strategy meetings, internal operational reviews and external client meetings, had been an “incredible experience” and she was pleasantly surprised by the level of engagement expected from her by The Adecco Group from the outset.

“As a graduate, you would never walk into a business and be taken straight to meet the important people and hear the real numbers,” she says. “In my first week I was immediately welcomed by the executive team who all took time out of their busy schedules to talk to me about what they do.

“From these meetings I was given a top-down view of the business, which was then expanded by meeting branch managers and recruitment consultants. In my first week I was in a board meeting and in week four I presented in front of the APAC CEO and CFO before sitting in on a two-day strategic workshop.” Hannah says the things that

stood out for her during her month as a CEO was that the “business, above everything else, is working with people”. She says this includes taking the time to be friendly to, and appreciate the work and value of, each member of the team.

“I didn’t know how important it is to be able to understand people and their motivations at every level,” she says.

“I wanted to understand how a global powerhouse like The Adecco Group functions, but also what it takes to be a CEO on a day-to-day basis. It was such an incredible opportunity to learn. I’m lucky to have shadowed a true modern-day leader.”

Moyano says the CEO for One Month program was established to bridge the gap between school and work by offering on-the-job experience and is run across 47 countries by Adecco.

“The CEO for One Month runs in each country and they need to complete a number of challenges as part of their placement,” he says. “At the completion of their placement, 10 shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend a Bootcamp in Zurich where they will have the opportunity to compete to become our Global ‘CEO for One Month’.

“In choosing our CEO for One Month, we have a rigorous selection process that focused predominately on skills rather than experience. Everything from application, to video interview, phone interview, assessment centre and final panel interview.”

Moyano says The Adecco Group has been lucky enough to employ one of the finalists from last year’s Australian CEO for One Month, Timothe Kessell, who now works full-time for the company as a business process improvement officer.

“The CEO for One Month program is a great initiative for The Adecco Group,” Moyano says. “Overall it highlights the recruitment sector as a career path for graduates to consider. Recruitment is typically an area that people fall into and through the program we are seeing an increased interest in the sector.

“We received over 4000 applicants this year in Australia for the internship and, from 2017 to 2018, we saw a 90.9 per cent increase in STEM-related discipline applicants/students apply for the program.”

Expressions of interest for the 2019 CEO for One Month Program are now being taken.


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