Rachel Wheeldin

Rachel is a Project Lead who completed her Lloyds Banking Group Higher Apprenticeship in 2015. What has she discovered?

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Choosing – ‘You know deep down’

“By March 2013 I’d received offers from all my top five universities, and my sixth form college was lighting the path to the Freshers’ Week.

“But deep down I knew that university wasn’t for me. I didn’t want full time education any more – I wanted to kick-start my working life.

“So I chose a Lloyds Banking Group Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management.

“I was one of the Group’s very first project management apprentices, and it was definitely the solution for me.”

Decisions – ‘Make them for you’

“I’m a confident person and I see myself as a bit of trailblazer, because I think differently about quite a lot of things.

“I’m the type who makes their own decisions, and that often means I go it alone.

“For example, it was my own decision to hike across the Grand Canyon, to raise money for charity.

“It was my own decision to join a delegation to Downing Street, and to be interviewed by the Daily Mail.

“And it was my own decision to choose an apprenticeship over university.

“I don’t regret any of these decisions – they were the right for me.”

Why Lloyds Banking Group? – ‘A strong apprentice community’

“I chose an apprenticeship with Lloyds Banking Group because it was clear to me that the opportunity was head and shoulders above those offered by other companies.

“Lloyds Banking Group is a high-profile champion for apprenticeships.

“The Group wants to help Britain to prosper, and one way it does this is through a positive apprentice ethos, and through becoming a leading supporter of the UK Government’s Apprenticeships initiative.

“Lloyds Banking Group now has a strong apprentice community and a clear appreciation of what it’s like for a school leaver to begin the world of work.

“I quickly discovered – through the support and encouragement of colleagues – that there were fantastic opportunities for me to learn, develop as a professional, meet new people, and start an incredible career journey.

“I knew that, if I committed to hard work, I’d be on the road to a vastly successful career at a young age.”

Being an ambassador – ‘Perceptions are changing’

“Opinions are changing quite fast now, but back in 2013, negative attitudes were lingering about apprenticeships that weren’t true anymore.

“So I decided to lend my weight to the culture shift, to change certain ideas of what ‘apprenticeship’ means.

“I wanted to change perceptions so that other young people would realise the massive potential that actually exist for them in apprenticeships.

“So, along with other representatives from Lloyds Banking Group, I went to meet the UK Government.”

Downing Street – ‘The Government’s all for apprenticeships’

“We gave a presentation at 1O Downing Street to George Osborne, who was the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time.

“We were there to support the UK Government’s Apprenticeships initiative, which is part of our Group’s purpose in Helping Britain Prosper.

“I also gave an interview to the Daily Mail about my own personal apprenticeship journey.

“The attention was very exciting, but it was an important thing to do for other young people, because perceptions are now moving in the right direction.

“It’s good to be an ambassador for would-be apprentices. If you join as an apprentice, you can become an official Lloyds Banking Group Apprenticeship Ambassador, presenting in schools and colleges, helping other young people to succeed.”

My job – ‘We propose solutions’

“I completed my apprenticeship in January 2015 and now I’m using all my strengths as a project manager and as a Solutions Pro in quite a high-profile job.

“The job title is very grand – ‘Divisional PMO Lead for the Transformation Portfolio of Change within Group Operations’ – but it’s basically a posh way of saying I manage a project team of three.

“We devise and propose solutions, often quite alternative, that are connected to organisational change.

“I report these proposed solutions ‘up the line’ to senior colleagues who we call ‘stakeholders’.”

Solutions – ‘There’s always a better way’

“As a Solutions Pro, I know there are better ways for us to be doing things as an organisation, and we’re continuously looking to improve so that we can be the best bank for customers.

“It’s up to me and my team to find these solutions and present them in the right way, to the right people.

“I’m absolutely loving the role – it satisfies my natural inclination to think alternatively, and I have to manage others, analyse scenarios, make plans and build strong relationships in the process.

“I get to interact with lots of interesting people, at many different levels, and no day’s the same.”

The future – ‘8,000 new apprenticeships planned’

“Lloyds Banking Group plans to deliver 8,000 new apprenticeships by 2020, so you could say the opportunities here are almost as vast as my trek across the Grand Canyon to raise money to fight cancer.

“You just have to keep pushing yourself, like I do with my weights/abs/legs routine in my gym routines, and like I did in the Grand Canyon.

“Work and study, earn and learn, get the qualifications that matter – it’ll pay off, I promise you.

“No two-ways about it, the future’s looking strong for apprentices.”

Advice – ‘Don’t hold back’

“Lloyds Banking Group is a vast company, much bigger and broader than you think.

“There are hundreds of different roles for you to discover, and today I’m still finding out about all the different departments and divisions.

“My advice to you is to not hold back – take in as much information as you can.

“Meet as many new people as you can, and make your own decisions ­– because it’s your life and you don’t have to do what everyone else does.

“Blaze your own trail, grab every opportunity. Give it your best shot.”

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Ellie Greenwood

Ellie Greenwood
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Mark Pask

Mark Pask

I had five university offers, but being an alternative thinker I chose an apprenticeship instead