Mon, 23 Aug 2021

At BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, our apprentices are a very important part of our business. And as well as giving opportunities to young people starting out in their careers, we’re also committed to supporting the learning and development of our existing team members. 

To find out more about the progression opportunities available to our colleagues across the business, we sat down with engagement administrator Sarah Privett to discuss her apprenticeship journey.

First joining BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK in 2014 as a customer service agent, Sarah has since worked in various teams, supporting on communications. To support her learning and development, in 2019 Sarah embarked upon a Level 3 ‘Team Leading and Supervisor’ apprenticeship at BMet which she completed last month.

Speaking about her career journey so far and her decision to take on this apprenticeship, Sarah said: “Although I initially joined BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK in a customer service role, I was very much encouraged to learn more about different areas of the business. This resulted in me moving over to the colleague engagement and comms team in 2017 and into a role that allows me to utilise my degree in media and communications.”

Sarah first found out about the opportunity to do an apprenticeship at BMet when speaking to her manager about her future goals and what she wanted to get out of her role. She explains: “Learning and development is a really important part of life at BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, and when I mentioned in a 1-2-1 with my manager that I wanted to learn something new and develop my leadership skills, they were really keen to support me.

“Following this initial conversation, the head of customer services approached me and presented me with the opportunity to complete a ‘Team Leading and Supervisor’ apprenticeship. This then led to me attending a meeting with BMet to find out exactly what this entailed.”

So how did Sarah find the shift to studying alongside her current role? She explains: “BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK was really supportive when it came to my apprenticeship, and by allowing me to flex my time to accommodate the additional learning hours, I was able to strike a perfect balance between my day-to-day role and further study.

“My manager was also really supportive when it came to finding evidence to support my apprenticeship, and even requested specific e-learning modules from our dedicated learning and development team on my behalf.”

But just how has Sarah’s apprenticeship helped her in her role at BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK? She says: “Some of the skills I’ve learned from specific modules, such as project management, have helped me significantly in my current role.

“Since completing my apprenticeship, I’ve already applied a lot of what I learnt to a new project I’m working on with Digital Innovators, and I’m much more confident in my ability to see projects through from start to finish now.

“Embarking upon this apprenticeship has definitely reignited my passion for self-learning and personal development, but perhaps one of the biggest things I’ve gained from this experience is confidence. 

“In all honesty, I probably wouldn’t have put myself forward for something like this if it hadn’t been for the support and encouragement of my manager, but because I did say yes to this opportunity my self-belief has increased massively.”

On the standout moments from her apprenticeship journey, Sarah says: “One of the biggest highlights for me was when I achieved a Distinction at the end of my apprenticeship, as it made me feel like all my hard work had been recognised.  

“I’ve also been nominated by my tutor for Birmingham Live’s 2021 Greater Birmingham Apprenticeship Awards, which is a huge honour and something I’m really proud of!”

Looking to the future, Sarah says: “Throughout the course of my apprenticeship, I’ve been lucky enough to meet lots of different types of people working at all levels across the business, which has really helped me to figure out what my niche is. And this is something I’m keen to continue to develop further.” 

Talking about the learning and development opportunities available at BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, Sarah said: “Over the seven years that I’ve been with the business, I’ve had the opportunity to try lots of different things and develop my skillset significantly.

“From attending formal training sessions organised by our Women in Business network to taking part in self-directed online learning through the GoodHabitz training portal, there are so many of different avenues you can go down when it comes to learning and development – and BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK’s apprenticeship scheme is just the tip of the iceberg.” 

On her advice for someone who’s considering doing an apprenticeship alongside their current role, Sarah said: “Don’t be shy – take that leap and do something different. You never know what opportunities it could lead to!” 

We are proud to offer apprenticeship opportunities to colleagues at all stages of their careers, from entry level all the way through to degree-equivalent apprenticeships for more senior team members – and this year alone 11 of our colleagues will be completing apprenticeships with us. 

As a Top Employer, we’re passionate about enabling every single team member to be the best they can be, and in order to retain our brilliant people we actively help our colleagues to unlock their potential so they can learn, gain experience and discover their unique set of skills. 

To find out more about our commitment to supporting the learning and development of our colleagues, click here.