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Leeds Beckett University: Louise’s Story

Louise is currently in the second year of the Digital and Technology Degree Apprenticeship Course at Leeds Beckett University. She has worked at ASDA for eleven years, recently joining the technology team.

She says of the move, “When I moved into technology, I realised that while I know a lot, I had some gaps in certain areas of my experience and so the degree is helping me to fill those gaps and to give me that broader view and broader understanding of technology.”

Louise’s degree apprenticeship has already taken her career in a direction she wouldn’t have expected, and helped her learn the skills she needed to progress to the next level: “I was recently promoted from my role as Senior Manager for Governance in Technology, helping to run technology functions and ensuring that technology delivers for the business, to Senior Director for the Asda Technology and Innovation Store. This new role involves taking one of our 24hr trading live operating stores and turning it into our innovation store, where we run all proof of concepts and test things out for the first time in a live environment in front of colleagues and customers, which is really exciting.”

“From starting as an analyst in the energy industry to where I am now working in Technology at Asda, it would never have been a career path someone would have mapped out. It just shows that now people need to be open minded when thinking about their career and next steps… because, the role you do in a few years’ time may not exist yet!”

She says she was drawn towards the apprenticeship because she was struggling to get the experience she needed to progress in her career on the job. “When I found the degree apprenticeship, it ticked all the boxes I needed, it gives the breadth and the formal knowledge and understanding, as well as coming out with a recognised qualification at the end of it, which is fantastic. I don’t already have a degree, so this is my first higher education experience.”

“My aim of doing the apprenticeship was to progress in my career, and I’ve already gained a promotion as a result. It has also given me confidence to talk in meetings and participate in discussions that I didn’t feel able to before because I didn’t feel that I had the right level of understanding.”

“In addition to the promotion, I’m also getting a lot of opportunities to talk at different events about my experience and to promote apprenticeships. In my previous role, I was responsible for the learning and development of colleagues in the Technology function. I am now able to stand up and talk about apprenticeships in a different way to how others had done before, because I am an apprentice. I can show people that apprenticeships aren’t just for 18-year olds, but actually for anybody at any stage of their career and there’s the whole range of levels 3-7.”

“I was also delighted to have been put forward for the ‘Best Apprenticeship Student’ at the Tech Partnership Awards 2019. It was great to show that apprenticeships aren’t just an entry route into the world of work, but they can be for anyone, at any stage of their career, and a great opportunity to make a change in direction or develop yourself professionally.”

Undertaking a degree apprenticeship has not only helped Louise further her career, but the new skills and knowledge she is learning are benefiting her employer too. She says, “Now, with how the retail sector is moving, all areas touch and are connected to technology, so I don’t need to work specifically in a technology function to make use of my degree. I want to use what I’m learning to help to educate all areas of the business in terms of what technology means to us right now, and what it will mean in the future.”