1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am a Purchasing analyst working for Caterpillar. I am responsible for doing the necessary analysis work to create leverage and negotiation strengths for the Category buyers dealing with European casting suppliers. Daily I will be analysing price changes, seeing if they are justified and loading them into the systems. I will collaborate with the Category buyers in my team to help them with Ad Hoc requests that they are too busy to complete. I am also responsible for sourcing new parts within my segment, getting quotes for these parts and loading the prices in the system. I also review supplier performance and create data for the Category Buyers to be able to use to ensure that quality of parts is as high as possible and price of part is as low as possible without jeopardising production.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learned how to be more proficient on a computer through completing IT key skills level 3. This includes learning how to create macros in Excel to make daily tasks quicker and more efficient. I have improved my presenting skills and have been able to use this to show the data analysis that I complete in a way that benefits my team and the business.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I enjoyed completing my apprenticeship because it allowed me to learn about the business that I was working in, as well as the educational practices and use them together to become better at what I do. It has made me a more confident person in the workplace as I know more and can pass this on to others comfortably.
4. How valued do you feel by Caterpillar?
I feel valued because they have seen what I have been through, doing a degree whilst in full time work is difficult and shows discipline and hard work. I feel that I have had this rewarded through the opportunities that I have been given at work. I have always been put up for new jobs and opportunities that have arisen, which makes me feel wanted by the company.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
My programme was well structured in area, but not so well structured in others. The NVQ that I completed was completed in 3 months, however they allowed us 6 months to complete. Therefore I was waiting to start my degree, but due to the structure of the course I had to wait another 6 months. Therefore I was worried that I would lose the impetuous that my NVQ has provided. The apprenticeship at work was well structured, I had 4 different 6 month placements in 4 areas of supply chain. This allowed me to gain a broader understanding of supply chain as a whole and gain a key understanding of the business.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
My training provided would come into my work to assess me working in the worklpace for my NVQ, this was invaluable as it was in a place where I was comfortable and I was therefore to show all of the skills that I had and be marked against them. My Degree tutors were always supportive. Some were better than others, for example 1 tutor would arrange to meet with me and not turn up. However on the whole most of the tutors were available a good amount of the time and were helpful with their guidance during every meeting.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
My employer was very helpful when I was doing my apprenticeship. For the first year I was allowed a study day away from work where I could focus on getting the studying and learning done in an environment without distractions. My employer had regular reviews with me on how the course was going and would help where required. Certain people would sit in on presentations that I did and give me pointers on how to improve further. I was lucky because people in my area were very supportive, however in other areas of the business people were not.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
My salary is very good and I was lucky enough to have my degree and NVQ paid for by my business. This was invaluable as I believe that a degree gets you to the higher jobs in the workplace, however most people are put off by the cost of a degree. I was lucky to not have to worry about the cost and was just able to focus on my studies and the job role I was in. This enabled me to thrive in the workplace.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
I am now lucky to be in a position where I am qualified in BA Honours - Business Management. This is looked on favourably by outside employers and gives me a good opportunity to be ahead of other candidates applying for the same role. It also gives me the credits to pursue other training opportunities, in particular in the field I am extremely interested in - Purchasing. I can use my credits to help me to get a qualification in the Chartered Institute of Purchase and Supply (CIPS). It would be harder to complete without the experience that I gained from my degree.
9. Would you recommend Caterpillar to a friend?
I would recommend this to a friend because it opens up so many opportunities. It allows you to develop as a person and a worker whilst learning insightful things that are going to help you throughout your life and career. It is also more beneficial to learn through an apprenticeship as it removes the element of debt that university provides. After finishing university you aren't guaranteed to get a job in a relevant field, however an apprenticeship gives you the work experience in the role to get you a better job within the company you work and allows you to be more employable in other companies.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Caterpillar?
Make sure that you do all that you can to sell yourself and make sure that you get this opportunity. It sets you up so well for a career that you will both enjoy and will reward you financially. Ensure that you work on the ability to manage time, prioritise workloads and meet deadlines, as it is essential to do this both in the educational element of the apprenticeship and at work. If you can do these things then you will be successful in everything that you do. Also, never stop learning and pushing yourself as it shows people that you want to be the best you can.
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