Christian and Dale, apprentices with GSK
Christian and Dale are both Apprentices in their third year at GSK in the Research and Development IT department.
Tell us a little about yourself
Christian: My name is Christian Noone. I’m an IT apprentice at GSK and my role is a Service Specialist for Research & Development. I work within the Systems, Delivery & Support group and we take care of delivering new systems to R&D so they can do their job more efficiently. I’m based within the Lab Support function so it’s my role to ensure that all systems are working as expected across R&D.
Dale: My name is Dale Maddox, I am a Business analyst apprentice for an IT function that supports a number of finance, project management and portfolio management systems for R&D, along with supporting our Asia Pacific colleagues with their IT needs in China and Japan. My role requires me to support the group with analysis and information management, I am building my business analysis skills with the intention of becoming a full business analyst at the end of my apprenticeship.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship?
Christian: I think the main reason I chose an apprenticeship over university is simply to gain real industry skills that are genuinely valuable instead of just theoretical work at university. It feels like you’re ahead of the game and you can see how relevent what you learn is to the industry.
Dale: I learn best through applying skills and doing something. You wouldn’t take a driving test after reading and writing about it for 3 years. Everyone finds the best way to learn to drive is to get out into the real world and practice, make mistakes and learn. This is how I like to learn everything. Being taught the theory of skills in a class room then applying them in my work place is how I develop fastest.
Had you always been interested in technology?
Christian: Yes, I originally started to gain a strong interest in school with how technology was progressing and genuinely enjoyed it which was when I knew that the IT industry was for me. I strongly believe that being passionate about the industry or area you choose to pursue will definitely make you thrive to succeed.
Dale: I chose the IT apprenticeship because I have a passion for IT. I am good at it, it fascinates me and I know that IT is only just getting revved up; soon we are going to be working with technology that has only been fantasised about in movies. I chose the IT apprenticeship with this company because I didn’t really understand how IT was being used in it, I was intrigued to see what was being done here. After the assessment day I knew I wanted to be a part of it!
Tell us about your work and training schedule
Dale: In our first year we completed the same structured “fundamentals” designed to give us all a good basis on which to grow our skills. Following this we have studied units based on the skills we need for our day jobs or the role we are aspiring for. We have a week’s training course off site every seven or eight weeks, the rest of the time we are on a GSK site working. While at work we have full time roles that would be filled by another of our colleagues if we were not there; we are fundamental to GSKs success.
What are you enjoying about your life as an apprentice?
Christian: Earning both very valuable experience and qualifications at the same time knowing that I don’t have a heavy debt over my head from the increased costs of university. Being an apprentice not only improves your day to day life style but it also gives you more opportunities to do more outside of work.
Dale: The opportunities and the people that you get to work with, especially at GSK. GSK is industry leading in what it does and the people I am working with are industry leading at what they do. Who better to learn from? Another characteristic of the people I work with is that they are 100% behind the apprenticeship programme; it feels to me like everyone in my office has an accountability to support my development. They give me interesting and taxing work to push me but at the same time support me every step of the way. What more could I ask for?
How have you benefitted from your apprenticeship?
Christian: The apprenticeship is an opportunity to work for a highly recognised blue chip pharmaceutical company who I believe are working towards a great cause. I’m happy to be in a job where I strongly feel that my work is valuable.
How do you see your future?
Christian: I don’t want to say I’m going to be in a certain position in the future. I want to stay broad and keep my options open. I already have a few paths in mind of what I would like to pursue. For example I like the broad perspective work such as a project manager, the technical work such as a service specialist leading to be a service manager and also the Business Analyst role looking for ways to improve how the business works. I have learnt about all of these roles by actually experiencing the work during my apprenticeship rather than just being told what they do.
Dale: I have another year on the apprenticeship programme then I graduate. After that I plan to apply for a promotion or a more advanced role. I would like to move around the company and see how some of the other groups work and understand their drivers. I would like to travel a little, spend some time in the states and Japan; I would like to do all this with GSK.
I also love the idea of managing my own company and being my own boss, maybe one day I will get that opportunity – but who knows what the future holds
What would you say to someone considering a tech apprenticeship?
Christian: Keep your vision broad and don’t fix yourself to one path. An apprenticeship will give you lots of opportunities and experiences that will open many doors to different job roles. A good question to ask yourself is would you feel comfortable taking your driving test without ever physically driving a car, only being taught in a class room how to do it? Then what is university? Being taught how to do a job without ever actually doing it.
Dale: As an apprentice you have a golden opportunity to shape the company you are working in. Learning the skills to do the job is one thing, another really important part of being an apprentice that people don’t think about is absorbing the company’s culture and continuing the legacy of those who have built the company before us. We really are the future, one day it could be one of us apprentices sat as CEO of this company. We have an awesome responsibility.