Army to Apprentice: how I brought a different way of thinking to leadership
Stephen tells us how he kick-started his Barclays career as a mature apprentice.
Posted 3 months ago
When I started my Barclays apprenticeship, my goals were simple: learn as much as I could and secure a permanent role at the end. I didn’t realise how much these would change in the years that would follow, because I didn’t understand how much was really on offer.
As I came to the end of my Foundation Apprenticeship, I was offered a whole new opportunity; the chance to take on the Barclays Higher Apprenticeship. A programme that would set me up for a leadership role. I could see that Barclays were invested in my development. From my first day, they provided me with the support and training I’d need to turn the apprenticeship into a long-term career. Eight years later, it’s definitely paid off.
Focused Personal Development
Right at the start, the Head of Apprenticeships put me in touch with my mentor. He reached out to me and now we catch up every week, honing in on the things that will help me get to my next goal. He helped me think about the things I’d need to do to develop; really challenged me to talk to different people and grow my networking skills. As a result, I started talking to people at senior levels and promoting my personal brand. It’s made me a much more well-rounded person, and it’s opened up opportunities too. When I wanted to apply for a role outside my current team, my mentor put me in contact with the right people, so I could develop the skills needed.
To this day, my mentor pushes me and supports my development with regular one-to-ones and coaching on how to prepare for next roles and interviews. It’s great to have someone who’s so centred on my progress. I know that whatever I want to do, my mentor is someone I can rely on to support me. That kind of focused development is just one of the reasons I’ve stayed at Barclays for so long.
Expanding your Horizons – and Pushing the Bank Forward
From day one, I’ve always been encouraged to build my knowledge and seek new experiences. The Higher Apprenticeship programme set me up for a leadership role, while advancing my understanding of opportunities in the Financial Services industry. Throughout the programme, I was encouraged to think about my future in Operations, as well as the type of role I see myself in long-term. From practising and demonstrating leadership qualities to learning how to better support our customers, my apprenticeship gave me everything I needed for a successful career with Barclays.
Something else that’s really impacted my development is Barclays’ progression coaching, which focuses on getting more people into the leadership programme – particularly women. Barclays has put 100 women onto the course so far, and I’ve got a lot out of it: there’s everything from podcasts and books teaching you successful mindsets, to ways to help you talk about your experiences and learn from them. It’s opportunities like this that have taken me from an apprentice to a future business leader, and I know this is just the beginning of me expanding my horizons within the business.
Finding your Direction
Since progressing on from the apprenticeship programme, I’ve wanted to pass my learning on to others. So, I developed and maintained two of my own mentoring relationships. Both Barclays apprenticeships taught me a lot – from becoming self-aware to strategically considering your next development opportunity. I’m proud to say I’ve been able to pass these skills on – and I’m always looking for new ways to connect my mentees with colleagues who could help advance their careers.
I’ve always been someone who never knew what I wanted to do, and I know that will be the case for thousands of people coming out of college or university. If I could talk to myself back then, I’d say I’ve made the right decision and I’d do it again a thousand times over. On the Barclays apprenticeship programmes, you’ll be rewarded for your hard work and encouraged to take on every learning opportunity, all within an organisation that supports your career development.