1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
In my BAU role I act as a risk support function for a department of 500+ people. I raise systems and folder access for new starters, review potential regulatory SLA and GDPR breaches. I also work on projects that impact the department. This includes one that I am in the process of completing at the moment which has involved bringing in a new system that we log complaints on.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I definitely feel that I have developed my stakeholder management skills, not just with senior managers, but also dealing with colleagues who work overseas. It has been a really enjoyable and useful experience, understanding how different cultures interact in a business environment, but also being conscious that English is not their first language. I've had to be mindful of my written and spoken language, trying to remove colloquial speech and idioms.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I've certainly found the programme useful, and I find any opportunity to learn new skills and develop, enjoyable. It's been good that you're given lots of modules to learn at your own pace, rather than being drip fed work. I prefer this as you know exactly what the end goal is, which gives you a more realistic expectation of what is required.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
I don't think Kaplan have been well organised at all, I don't want to place blame on anyone, but I "signed up" to the course in September 2018, but didn't receive any documentation or information regarding the PMQ until after I'd met with someone in the November. I'd started the work on the MyKapApp but didn't have any guidance with this, so was not sure if I was doing the right thing. To this day (22nd May 2019) I am still yet to have had any contact with my SME in Project Management, so I've had no real support in regards to the specifics of the course, which is frustrating.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
M&S Bank are great, they always embrace those who wish to learn more and develop skills that will ultimately help the business too. My manager is fully supportive of my Apprenticeship and gives me any time that I need away from my day job to do the extra PMQ modules or the work that Kaplan add to the MyKapApp.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
I suppose this partly ties in with question four. As I still haven't had any contact with my subject matter expert, the only support I'm getting from Kaplan is quite generic, in the sense of checking up on me and asking if I'm okay. They have emailed the SME asking them to get in touch with me, but I still haven't heard anything. I don't want to put pressure on them and push them for a response though, as I appreciate they may be very busy.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
I think as the qualification is renowned throughout the world it is an incredibly useful and valuable qualification to be undertaking. In regards to how it specifically helps in my role, I think it has help me with my time management and prioritisation of key tasks. It has also helped me learn to adapt my approach or communication style dependant on the recipient.
8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)
Yes, there are lots of different activities to get involved in. M&S Bank actually launched a new Cycling and Gardening club today, not related, purely coincidental! We also have diversity & inclusion employee groups such as BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnicities), Balance (gender), LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bi and trans). There is a men's football team, female netball team and a choir. So lots to choose from!
9a. Would you recommend Marks & Spencer to a friend?
I love the philosophy of the bank. I think the values that underline the core principles of the company are what I love most. We look out for our customers, protecting them as best we can. But we also look after employees, there are many of my colleagues who have been with the company for more than 30 years.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Marks & Spencer?
Be true to yourself. Unfortunately you'll always have to be able to answer aptitude questions to a high standard. But be yourself. They want to hear what makes you different, what makes you unique. What will you bring to the bank? The answer hopefully will always be yourself, and that is what makes you the candidate they want.