Thinking about starting an HR or L&D Apprenticeship? Find out how L&D apprentice Artheka Sivaharan is developing her skills and improving her career prospects through our apprenticeship programme.
Artheka, what is your role at Metro Bank?
I am a Learning and Development Manager with Metro Bank. I joined the company’s customer services team six years ago and moved into Business and Commercial banking before joining the Training team. I have been in my current position since April 2019 and have worked in the Training team for over five years now. I studied Maths and Economics at university so a career in finance felt relevant to my degree but after the first few days of my induction training at the bank I fell in love with the idea of training colleagues. It was one of those lightbulb moments and I knew L&D was what I wanted to do.
My role at Metro Bank is split into several categories. I lead a team of six people and look after their growth and development; I oversee projects and help to manage capacity around designing new training or running the programmes we have in our catalogue and I liaise with senior stakeholders to ensure the L&D strategy aligns with business objectives.
My team has been fully operational during lockdown and the demand for training has increased with most colleagues now working remotely but still requiring training and development. It’s a very busy job.
Why did you want to do the Level 5 L&D apprenticeship programme?
Metro Bank is an apprenticeship provider and I have seen how beneficial apprenticeships can be. The apprenticeship gives that extra level of opportunity to apply the learning and development with support in your day to day role and that appealed to me.
When did you start and when will you finish?
I started at the end of October and I will finish in May next year.
How many modules have you completed?
I have completed two in total and I’m currently working on my third. Watson Martin has been very flexible because of what is going on at work and have swapped things around to make the learning more applicable to my current situation. It’s interesting that all the modules are aligned to what is currently happening at work. I’m gaining the knowledge and skills from the qualification and strengthening them on the job. I am so pleased I went down the apprenticeship route.
How does the programme work?
For me, it’s a combination of guided learning and self-study. The guided sessions and workshops we have for each module have given me deeper insight into the different skills I need to learn or enhance. Self-study lets me explore the aspects that I am more interested in and provides more flexibility to dive deeper into theories and concepts which I can then apply to my working life. The regular reviews I have with my adviser act as a checking point to ensure everything is on track.
I’m on a public programme so my cohort has a mix of apprentices, from different companies. Watson Martin makes sure that everyone’s needs are covered.
Who is your adviser and how do you work together?
Tracey is my adviser and she is fabulous. She is so supportive and provides very constructive feedback in a direct way which I like. If I am confused about anything and ask her on OneFile she is on to it straight away. Joseph Grech who runs the webinars is also absolutely brilliant. He has made the webinars really flexible to fit what we need, especially during the last few months. They’ve both been significant to my WM apprenticeship journey.
What skills and knowledge do you hope to develop during your apprenticeship?
Overall, my main goals are to increase my knowledge and build my confidence. I work with fairly senior people in the company and because of the skills and knowledge I have learnt, I have already seen an improvement in my stakeholder management. It has helped improve my understanding of group dynamics which has in turn increased my confidence.
What do you think the apprenticeship and CIPD qualification will do for your future career?
One of the main improvements I’ve noticed is that the programme is helping me to develop people in my team. Even if I was to move to another company in a few years, my ability to develop other people will be easier because I am more confident in my own abilities. From a career perspective, I see myself doing this role for a while as it is at a level I enjoy but I hope the apprenticeship will let me broaden and diversify who I can manage and deal with specialists on projects. The programme has made me realise that as a manager I don’t need to know all the details and have all the skills, but I need to be able to coordinate and structure projects to help others fulfil their roles. Having the qualification will be good for my future career; it is something I will have attained and symbolises progress.
Is your manager supportive?
He is absolutely amazing and very supportive particularly in allowing me opportunities to apply the learning. He has invited me to facilitate meetings so I continually develop through his feedback. The support I receive from my manager has helped me to continually learn and develop.
How are you managing the 20% off the job training aspect of your apprenticeship?
Prior to lockdown my manager arranged for me to have a flexible study day every Friday but because we are still fully functional during lockdown and training demand has increased, I’ve asked for an extension on my assignments but I’m still learning and applying that new learning every single day. I’m keeping track of what I have missed and will get the time back when I need it. My manager has been extremely flexible with this to help me get back on track when I’m ready.
How did you find the Watson Martin start up process generally?
I’m on a public programme with other apprentices and the induction had actually already happened when I joined but Watson Martin arranged one over Zoom for a few of us who were late starters. Even online it was really informative and at the right pace. I was able to meet my adviser Tracey Lewis. It was a really nice way of starting the programme.
What are your views on the online materials and tracking your progress?
I find OneFile really easy to use and the VLE is very helpful. It has more materials for some modules than others but now I know where to look I’m a lot more self-sufficient in terms of research. The 1:1s with Tracey really help too, she provides me with further insight on where I can get resources for my research.
Do you network with any of the other apprentices?
We get on very well during our workshops and webinars but I’ve been really busy at work recently and haven’t made enough time to talk to other apprentices outside of these sessions but building a stronger network is definitely something I’d like to do and the programme will help me achieve this.