This week we have been celebrating National Apprentice Week 2020, it’s an opportunity to raise awareness of apprenticeships being the gateway to a great career.
Apprentices are a vital part of our Softcat family and have been since we developed our award-winning scheme in 2014. We have developed a programme that is industry recognised and provides a fantastic route into business for emerging talent whilst also delivering great results for our business. We passionately believe in creating diverse entry routes into the business, and as such our school leaver focused apprenticeship programme remains a key priority in helping to #BuildTheFuture of Softcat.
Joining a Softcat apprenticeship is one of the best things you could do, but don’t take just our word for it. We caught up with some of our current and past apprentices to see what they think.
Our apprentices share their experiences
What is your role at Softcat?
Natalie Devine, International Logistics Specialist: I am an International Logistics Specialist. I am responsible for orders that need to be exported out of the UK by Softcat to the rest of the world. I work on providing shipping costs/advice to our customers, working with them on international projects and ensuring all deliveries are completed successfully by working with teams internally and externally, like our couriers. I am also responsible internally for ensuring that Softcat have the correct processes in place for shipping internationally and that we are adhering to all government regulations.
Laura Derry, Vendor Alliance Apprentice: In Softcat my role is a Vendor Alliance Apprentice. The Vendor Alliance team supports our Vendors strategies by collaborating with most departments within Softcat, including sales, marketing, and operations. Currently the vendors I am working with include HPE, Apple & Cisco. It is my responsibility to build relationships with key internal and external stakeholders, assist the business managers with general sales queries, engage with marketing and shadow QBRs, all to develop my industry knowledge.
Harry Joyles, Sales Apprentice: I am a Corporate Sales Apprentice. This means I sit on the sales floor in the London office. My main responsibility is to support my customers with any of their IT requirements, and I do this by carrying out quotes, speaking to their IT managers and checking on deliveries.
Sam Cox, Deputy Health Team Leader: My role at Softcat is a combination of leadership and account management. I look after a handful of NHS customers throughout the South of the UK and the Home Counties, whilst also acting as Deputy Team Leader for our 14 strong team of Healthcare Account Managers who look after NHS organisations across the whole of England. My main responsibilities are to make sure our Healthcare team is heading in the right direction from a planning and improvement perspective- NHS customers have very niche requirements which need to be carefully tailored to.
Anna Kennedy-Jones, Partner Marketing Executive: I currently work as a Partner Marketing Executive. Our team collaborates with our partners by offering marketing opportunities that drive our joint propositions. This involves a range of activities from sales incentives, customer engagement opportunities, events, campaigns and more. There are a lot of moving parts within the team, but there is always something new to work on, someone new to work with and having the ability to bounce off various stakeholders allows me to both learn and grow.
Nicol Green, Sales Apprentice: I’m a Corporate Sales Apprentice and my job day to day involves account management, researching and speaking to customers, finding new opportunities within my accounts and providing good customer service. I am also working towards my IT Technical Sales Person qualification which I am very excited about.
What training and development have you received since you joined?
Laura Derry, Vendor Alliance Apprentice: During my apprenticeship I have had regular training. When this year’s apprentice intake joined in September 2020 we all had a two week induction which taught us all we needed to know about Softcat and our roles. Since then we have a monthly group session and a one-to-one meeting with our development coach. As I joined Softcat during the pandemic all of my training was done virtually, however I truly felt that Softcat has worked hard to support us and make it as exciting as possible.
Sam Cox, Deputy Health Team Leader: The training and development throughout my apprentice year was very topical and is probably best described as ‘on the job’ as it all goes towards a single end goal. It was focused on making you into the best version of yourself, and teaching you effective sales techniques. This said, I don’t think anyone expects a single year of training will perfect your skills, so training and development is offered throughout your Softcat career irrespective of whether you’ve been here for 3 years or 20. Knowledge is very important, especially in sales, as it gives you credibility and an edge over a competitor who is also wanting to work with that same customer. Softcat invest a lot of time and resource into training and development and it’s one of the most important aspects of building a successful career in this industry.
What has been your highlight so far at Softcat?
Anna Kennedy-Jones, Partner Marketing Executive: This would have to be the opportunity to meet so many incredible people, from both Softcat and the IT Industry. My apprenticeship and current role have provided me with a number of chances to work with a range of people in different positions, from whom I have learnt so much from. Winning Non-Sales Apprentice of the Year alongside two of my colleagues was also a huge highlight for me. It was a goal of mine from day one, so I feel lucky that Softcat provided me with so many great opportunities to step out of my comfort zone which pushed me to achieve this.
Laura Derry, Vendor Alliance Apprentice: One of my highlights has been participating and supporting in the #ExerciseYourMind challenge. This was put together by my team to motivate employees to exercise during the winter lockdown. The challenge was for each person to complete 100 miles in November while raising £100 for the charity MIND. Softcat ended up raising £11,750 and completing 10,578.64 miles in total. It was amazing to be part of this and help raise money for a great cause at such a difficult time.
Natalie Devine, International Logistics Specialist: My highlight has to be winning Employee of the Year in 2019, I was completely shocked to win something like that and not expecting it all! Then to be able to go on the incentive trip to Malaysia as a result made it ever better. It was a great way to celebrate my time so far at Softcat.
How would you describe the culture at Softcat?
Harry Joyles, Sales Apprentice: Where do I begin? I think the recent Glassdoor and Great Place to Work awards Softcat has won says it all. The culture is amazing, everyone is always so supportive and willing to help out whenever you need them. Without sounding cheesy, I honestly feel like I am part of a family, as since I joined everyone has been so welcoming. I am really looking forward to seeing the culture once we can go back to the office as I know the overall vibe and buzz of the sales floor will be even better than it is now.
Nicol Green, Sales Apprentice: The culture at Softcat is fantastic, it’s so fun and employee focused. There are constantly activities being organised to help us stay motivated and positive while working at home, some of my favourites have been coffee roulette and well-being gifts delivered to your door. This said, I’m also looking forward to going back to working in the office to experience the real Softcat culture in-person.
How has your apprenticeship allowed you to work with other people?
Anna Kennedy-Jones, Partner Marketing Executive: My apprenticeship has been a great way to work and learn from people outside of my team. One of the most memorable opportunities for me was the chance to be involved in a cross-program project. This required us to network with key stakeholders from charities, heads of departments and other apprentices in the business. This experience was invaluable, not just for the success of our project but to develop our networking skills which ultimately benefit our everyday roles.
Nicol Green, Sales Apprentice: The apprenticeship has allowed me to connect with many different people outside of my team. For example, I have joined the Charity Team, BAME, Women in Business and Green Team, all of these different networks have allowed me to meet so many people at Softcat. I love how we catch up every few weeks to discuss current topics and everyone gets to share their opinions. I also enjoy the ‘Cohort Coffees’ where I catch up with apprentices from different offices to share advice and talk about how we’re doing.
Harry Joyles, Sales Apprentice: Doing an apprentice allows you to foster so many different relationships. When it comes to working with people, I have gained so much experience in talking to customers and learning how to involve both internal and external teams or partners in order to deliver the best solution possible.
How has your apprenticeship helped to build your future career?
Sam Cox, Deputy Health Team Leader: The Softcat Apprentice scheme is probably the thing I’m most grateful for in my life at this point. I was pretty worried about work once I left school, but joining Softcat was the perfect decision. It gave me the exact foundations I needed to progress and they genuinely make it such a positive experience that you won’t want to leave - I’ll likely feel indebted for the rest of my career! I’m proud to have Softcat as my employer- you’re supported from day one, but also given enough flexibility to work in ways which you excel in. Apprentice performance never fails to turn heads right across the business and this only keeps improving year on year, an absolute testament to the internal team who run the programme.
Anna Kennedy-Jones, Partner Marketing Executive: My experience of taking an apprenticeship at Softcat, has shown me that they do a very good job at breaking the stereotype of an ‘apprentice’. From the moment you join you are treated the same as someone entering the role of an executive, something I am incredibly grateful for. Softcat offers you an incredible amount of opportunities which has allowed me to build a fantastic foundation for my future career.
Natalie Devine, International Logistics Specialist: Doing an apprenticeship and starting off in a workplace so young helped me to mature very quickly and opened my eyes to the opportunities out there. It helps you believe in your own abilities and learn on the job whilst also gaining qualifications to better your career. If you ever get the chance to do an apprenticeship, I would really recommend it- I am so grateful for everything I have learnt at Softcat.