Bringing Personal Transformation to Interns at GSK

Personal transformation is deeply embedded in every individual’s journey. Those who are successful understand that each challenge in life is an opportunity for growth and transformation. We can aid our transformation by seeking opportunities and equipping ourselves with a variety of skills.

That all sounds great, but why is it so important? Personal transformation has the potential to facilitate a positive attitude in an individual, helps prepare people to undertake greater responsibilities with better responses and creates an environment for healthy interaction and a good team spirit (Nagarajan, 2017).

Don’t make tea, make transformation

Being an intern is one of the most incredible experiences to allow yourself to flourish. Forget your preconceptions about interns. They’re not here only to make tea and coffee. They’re here to embed ourselves in an environment where personal transformation is certain. Bring together a group of eager, determined and driven interns together and you have a group of future leaders.

That’s exactly what we did with a group of Saltire interns at GSK. For the 10 weeks previously, they had been doing various roles across GSK – from London to Ware to Montrose. Recognising these people as our future leaders, we equipped them with the necessary conversations and lightbulb moments about modern leadership – ranging from sustainable working practices to driving performance. By the end of the workshop, participants had fired one another, proposed to one another, had a paper aeroplane flying contest, and were walking around with a value on our name badge – questioning the true purpose of life itself.

We are aware of the changes that are imminent in the workplace – we dedicated a series of blog articles to the theme ‘Workforce 2035’. But how can we adapt to ensure we not only understand but incorporate these changes, from a macro level to a personal level? Many changes were present. For example, the influence and power of social media was a factor that could influence not only the interns’ circles, but also the way companies operate and the world as a whole. With a better understanding of changes and trends materialising in the modern world under our belt – it was time to get creative.

Trends on paper

I have to admit I hadn’t made a paper aeroplane since, well… I can’t remember when. Utilising the other members in my group who were far more skilled in the paper aeroplane department (some engineers, hallelujah) allowed me to create a far superior plane than if I was going solo. We got the perfect model down after a couple of tried and tested designs and practiced who could throw it the furthest. Fair to say, it got competitive. The team that won were the team that had the worst attempts to begin with – proving that practice and adaptation are key to future success.

With an elected CEO in our group directing how to flip the cups and the COO keeping a track of the time (we did tell you we were innovative), a highly entertaining game of flip cup (even without the beer) highlighted that a successful leader doesn’t just look solely at success. Instead, the best of leaders take into account the driving factors and feelings of their team, they embrace innovation and encourage collaboration. Success will be even greater with the leader that works with the team.

Proposing to be vulnerable

In case you got to this point and were wondering if anyone left the workshop newly engaged, I can confirm the proposals were part of an improvised activity. Many of the group were taken completely out of comfort zones. We demonstrated the importance of vulnerability and not being afraid of failure. Linking it back to the circle of security, participants used teammates for support when at their stretch limit.

The challenge to be a modern leader

Other activities ranged from understanding GSK’s values to identifying and discussing the sustainability of our current working practices. The session was engaging and high-impact – every moment was full of stimulation, insight, and pragmatic new ways of working.

A group of interns left the room, equipped with a greater understanding of how to be modern leaders. Challenging each other to adapt to our ways of working could be the key to welcome the uncertainty of a new period of change. Flourishing. A workshop that brought personal transformation – what better end to an internship could you have?


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