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Laura Bell: from Graduate to Coach

A unique aspect to our 2021-2023 Financial Services Graduate Programme is the introduction of Graduate Coaches.

The Graduate Coaches, who include a mix of Graduate Programme alumni, Senior Managers and Directors, will take a lead role in supporting and mentoring graduates throughout their time on the programme. They will ensure that Graduates are progressing from an academic and professional perspective and act as a mentor to learn from.

One of our Graduate Coaches is Laura Bell, Procurement Assistant at the Development Bank of Wales. Laura was on the Financial Services Programme herself, back in 2017 so we caught up with her to find out how her career has progressed since then and what made her decide to become a coach.

Tell us about your time on the Financial Services Graduate Programme

I joined the Programme in 2017. I’d just finished studying Law at university and wasn’t sure what direction to take my career in. The programme appealed to me because it would give me the chance to try out different roles within the Financial Services industry, to see where my skills were best suited.

My first placement was in the HR department at Atradius, I then moved on to work in their IT team, where I spent a year assisting the Project Management Office. I really enjoyed this placement as I got an insight into how large projects are run in a multinational organisation and was given the opportunity to travel to Atradius’ head office in Amsterdam. My final placement was in the Compliance team at Optimum Credit; this role was quite different to my previous two as it involved a lot of research, but I enjoyed the challenge.

Can you give us an insight into your current role?

For the past 2 years I’ve worked in Procurement at the Development Bank of Wales. As we are a regulated financial organisation, partly funded by the Welsh Government, we need to ensure that all our purchasing is fair and transparent. We can’t favour certain suppliers and need to be able to evidence where our money has gone. My role is to ensure that our procurement activity is compliant, by monitoring spend and providing guidance to staff. The Development Bank of Wales is a great company to work for as everyone is so supportive and pre-Covid there were a lot of social events so a great culture.

What made you want to be a Graduate Coach?

As someone who has been on the Programme myself, I felt I’d be able to provide useful advice to the new graduates. For me, the most valuable aspect of the scheme was the work placements, so I’m looking forward to helping them get the most out of their roles.

The grads will also have modules on personal development skills and I’m hoping to help them apply these practically to their day-to-day jobs.

What are you hoping to gain from the experience?

I’m really pleased I’ve been given the opportunity to do this as I’d like to develop my mentoring / coaching skills. Being a Graduate Coach will give me a chance to offer support and guidance to graduates, and hopefully learn skills which will be useful in the future if I want to take on line management responsibilities.

Any advice for our Graduates just starting out on the Programme?

Make the most of your time as it will fly by! As well as engaging in the MSc study, try and maximise all the opportunities that will come your way on each work placement – even if you feel the role isn’t suited to you long-term, you’ll gain valuable skills from each rotation.

Fantastic advice from Laura and we’re thrilled to have you as one of our coaches!