Learning journey case studies
The former apprentice
Claire Rowlandson, senior purchasing engineer, air procurement, BAE Systems
Rowlandson was aware of BAE’s Business Management Apprenticeship (BMA) from Year 10 at school, thanks to the company’s work at roadshows and careers fairs and through social media. She knew she wanted to go on to college, but after that she came across the scheme again and applied.
She trained as an apprentice between 2012 and 2014, starting the BMA with 29 students of mixed ages and backgrounds.
During the training, she and around a dozen others went on to receive procurement-specific training, while her peers began specialising in finance, commercial, project management and more.
Apprentices did block weeks of study at BAE’s Academy for Skills & Knowledge, together with various placements.
“We got time to study, attend workshops and do exams, with it being at the line manager’s discretion whether you can spend time studying at home or work,” she says. “Everyone’s supportive and aware you’ve got that extra pressure.”
Rowlandson spent time in different parts of the business, did a three-week placement in Germany and spent time with the commercial team to get a better understanding how another part of the company operated. “Procurement interacts with a lot of other stakeholders so I could see how it worked from the other side,” she says. “It helped me see the links between the two and how they fit together to make the business run better.”
After completing CIPS level 3 on the apprenticeship scheme, Rowlandson went on to complete level 4 and is now starting her level 5 training. She also scooped the company’s Air Professional of the Year award, beating 600 others to the coveted title.
While she initially took on roles with lower volume, lower value supplier packages (up to £1m contract) she progressively took on more from there. This includes being trusted to deliver one of the most complex and high value strategic supplier management packages within the team (around £30m contracts).
“I have now moved to a new team where I am responsible for managing two key suppliers and some sub-contracts,” she says.
The new apprentice
Charlotte McBride, dairy buyer, Sainsbury’s
What do you hope to gain from the apprenticeship?
The knowledge and key insights to help with my job and future career aspirations. I am currently a buyer within the dairy team and regularly have to negotiate with suppliers. Having formal education on processes and best practice will strengthen my skills in this area. I am also looking forward to understanding the whole value chain more, particularly as I interact with colleagues across the commercial function on a regular basis.
What’s your experience of apprenticeship been like so far?
The expectations have been set out very clearly. This has helped my line manager and I think about the time I will need to spend doing on-the-job learning and attending workshops and so on. I know the overall programme will support me to be the best buyer I can be.
Any advice for prospective apprentices?
The workload may sound a lot, but the apprenticeship is structured to allow you to continue with your day job while you learn new skills. I imagine you get out what you put in, so success is in your own hands.
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