Educated and Graduated – an Apprentices view by Joe Hayes

My IBM Journey so far…

I have now achieved my first (and hopefully not last!) major milestone in my career within IBM – graduating the IBM UK Apprenticeship Program!!

It started in September 2012 when I was recruited as an Integrated Supply Chain Apprentice for System X in Greenock. We received a 2 week induction at New Place in Southampton, providing us with various group activities and challenges in order to give us an overview of what we could expect over the next couple of years. We also attended education on IBM, the tools and technology in general. This gave us a fantastic base to get straight into our roles and was concluded with presentations from each group in our intake of 44 on what we had learnt during the 2 weeks. This was just a taste of the many presentations to come…

Following our induction, I got started within ISC where I would complete rotations around the main pillars in order to gain an end-to-end view of the supply chain process. This would allow me to develop an appreciation for the different pressures and perspectives of the individual teams and also how they interlocked and fitted in as keys parts of the process.

The key areas of the business I spent time in were:

  • Customer Scheduling alongside Customer Fulfilment
  • Procurement Warranty
  • Supply Demand Planning
  • Finance
  • Supply Operations
  • Engineering
  • Brand Operations Team

Within each area I had daily job roles and also time spent shadowing in order to really try and gain an understanding of the end to end process and how each piece fitted in to the entire puzzle, not to get too focused on the intricate details of single job roles. Overall within each area we developed skills in:

  • Core Skills
    • Communication
    • ICT and Technology
    • Teamwork
    • Problem Solving
  • Microsoft Office Skills – mainly excel
  • Presentation skills
  • Report Management
  • Hosting Effective Meetings
  • Time Management/ Prioritisation
  • Flexibility
  • Managing small projects

Throughout my time working in the ISC I also had my responsibilities to Foundation and working through the planned education and ultimately gaining my qualification from OCR. One of the many bonuses to being part of Foundation is the Giveback opportunities. I was lucky enough to participate in interview workshops with young people in local schools, giving them the chance to practice their interview skills as IBM would provide them with materials on mock job advertisements to apply for with us playing the part of an interviewer from the business. These were very successful and we received some great feedback from the pupils and the schools alike. I also attended courses with the other apprentices and graduates to further develop our skills. It gave us the perfect opportunity to catch up with those we started with and also meet some of the other people in the Foundation community. The skills we have learned on these courses have proved to be extremely useful in our careers so far and will continue to assist us in the future.

They have mainly been focused around ‘The call model’ which ultimately is developing skills in the best practice of engaging with clients. This initially sounded like it was sales focused but proved to be applicable in all areas of the job as I learned that the client can be both internal and external. The final course was PSC and this gave us the challenge of using our skills previously developed for managing successful client meetings in order to understand their goals and combining them with planning and submitting a proposal of what IBM can provide to alleviate the issues understood from our meetings. This was a week long course and we were graded throughout the week resulting in a pass or fail at the end, thankfully everyone passed due to hard work and some late nights!

After completing all my planned courses it was just a matter of simply writing it all up for the assessment to gain my formal qualification. I was required to align all our collated evidence over our time in IBM and the relevant courses I attended towards the framework provided by OCR for assessment.

Most recently I have been working within the STS PCoC Content Management competency starting to understand the O2O bid process and the role the ICAP Specialists play, supporting bid teams and sellers. I have been working primarily with the UKI team supporting live deals and also supporting projects to assist in our transformation to a globally integrated enterprise. I have already picked up a vast amount of knowledge in our short period within the team and can see there is still plenty more to learn.

Last week was our graduation ceremony in IBM Southbank, London which gave everyone a great opportunity to network and catch up with the other apprentices we had not seen in over 6 months. Most of us were joined by family and partners to share the day with. After being seated we were given an inspirational presentation by David Stokes, our UKI General Manager, on the technology industry today and his perspective on how the apprentice role fitted in to this. David presented us all individually with our certificates and we had a quick chat on our current roles followed by some photos. After the presentations were over we had our buffet lunch!

It is now time to continue within PCoC as I transition away from Foundation. It has been an interesting time and a great experience on my journey within IBM’s Foundation Scheme. I appreciate the effort from everyone within Foundation and ISC to develop such a great program with a special mention to Lynn Ford and Ross McLean. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of it and I can say I am looking forward to rest of my career within IBM wherever that may take me!


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