Meet the Apprentice: Katy Hilborne-Wallace from IBM

International Women's Day (March 8) celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the globe. One particular area of focus is Women in Tech, which highlights influential women women working in the technology sector. 

Only 17% of people currently working in UK technology are female, but slowly, participation is growing. 

We spoke to Katy, a degree apprentice at IBM, to find out what it's like to be an apprentice working in tech in 2019.

Katy Hilborne-Wallace: A Degree Apprentice Case Study

Your Name: Katy Hilborne-Wallace

Your Age: 20

Your Job Title: RFS (Request for Service) Manager

Employer Name: IBM

Location: Surrey/London

Hello Katy, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m young, business minded and interested in technology, business strategy and leadership. I have 3 dogs (Kalli, Molly and Peggy), I grew up in Nottingham and am passionate about sport and fashion.

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

After finishing my A levels in June 2017, I took a gap year. During this year I worked for Topshop, where I worked my way up to a Team Leader role.

Despite having a place to study Business Management at the University of Liverpool, I applied for the IBM degree apprenticeship in May 2018.

I had come to really value my financial independence and it was an obvious opportunity to take. I not only enjoyed working but I also realised the importance of having a degree qualification for my long-term career prospects and success.

I was very interested in working for IBM, as they are not only a huge global technology leader but also a company that are well known for their employee development and the diversity of different roles and careers they offer. I am also attracted to working for a global firm as I love languages and would like an opportunity to work abroad at some stage in my career.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

Monday to Thursday, I work within a small team as an RFS (Request for Service) Manager. This is a role that involves managing the contracting process for sales of IBM technology services.

In the past 6 months, I have learnt an enormous amount as an RFS Manager. For example, the legalities of contracting, pricing contracts and hitting KPIs. I am also fortunate I have a client facing role, which has enabled me to gain insights into other companies outside of IBM. I often get to communicate with third party suppliers as well which is really interesting.

On Fridays, I attend Pearson College London, where I am studying a Business Management Degree. I have found this really fun and a great way to expand my network as I am surrounded by lots of other degree apprentices from other companies as well as other IBM degree apprentices.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is undoubtedly the people. I love spending days in the office with my team and my IBM friends, the buzz and energy are motivational and its really inspiring working in close proximity to so many top business men and women.

Who supported you the most when applying?

Throughout my application process my mum was a huge help. She helped me to draft various CV documents and prepare for interviews and assessment centres. She is also my biggest inspiration and role model, and I hope I can make her as proud of my career as I am of hers.

Do you have any tips for students considering becoming an apprentice?

I have two tips for students considering an apprenticeship.

First tip – Do your research and choose a company that really interests you. You want to make sure you end up in a role that excites you and leads you towards the career pathway you desire.

Second tip – Talk to as many people as possible about all the opportunities you have available. Don’t be scared to reach out to people and ask questions about their company or roles. I think it’s also really beneficial to talk to current apprentices about their apprenticeships as they can offer first hand insights.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years' time?

Tricky question! I’d love to think that in 5 years’ time I would be in a more senior role within
IBM, with a good degree qualification and lots more knowledge and skills.

For more information about Pearson College London's Degree Apprenticeship programmes, please visit their website.

Ready to become an Apprentice yourself?

If you want be like Katy and start a career through an apprenticeship rather than going to university, has hundreds of jobs you can apply to: