Graduating from her degree in Accounting and Finance at Cardiff University, Lucy Stagg was unsure about what path her future would take. It was then she came across the Welsh Financial Services Graduate Programme which had only launched the previous year.
“I remember wondering if it was actually real”, explained Lucy, who lives in Llantrisant in Rhondda Cynon Taff. “The opportunity to study, complete a masters, undertake a placement and get paid at the same time – it seemed too good to be true. I felt lucky to be selected.”
Joining the programme in 2015, Lucy was placed with global trade credit insurer Atradius which has its UK headquarters in Cardiff Bay.
“Trade credit insurance is fairly niche and I was part of a small team in the product department. I did feel a bit overwhelmed in the beginning but the team was so welcoming and supportive and they gave me lots of advice.”
At the end of her first six-month placement, Lucy was asked to stay on with Atradius for a second placement.
“I was delighted to stay,” commented Lucy who is now 26. “I felt I’d worked so hard to make sure I absolutely understood everything, it felt a shame to then leave. They’d invested in me so much already, I wanted to give something back to the team.”
Within another three months, Lucy was asked to stay permanently and secured a full-time contract at Atradius as a project manager in the product and compliance team, but still with the opportunity to continue with the Masters programme, with the support of Atradius.
“I think it’s a natural feeling to worry whether you’re going to get a permanent job at the end of a scheme like this,” continued Lucy. “To be offered one so soon was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and confirmed to me that I had definitely taken the right path . The transition was seamless. I was treated the same as I had been, still able to go to uni on Wednesdays and supported on all of my uni projects. It was as if there was extra recognition that I had this commitment while I achieved my Masters.”
Lucy graduated in 2017 and was promoted to senior project manager at the end of last year.
Then, in July, just five years on from starting her first placement, Lucy became a senior manager reporting directly to Atradius’ Country Director and is part of the commercial management team. She now manages four different teams at Atradius with the marketing team, product team, policy administration team and customer services team reporting to her.
“I am thrilled,” Lucy explained. “I feel that it is such a success story to become a senior manager within five years of starting the graduate scheme. Changing jobs virtually has been challenging as it all happened during lockdown. I spent the first three weeks continually calling people to get to know them more and introduce myself in my role. It’s a big change and I have lots of plates spinning but while I’m slightly nervous, I’m mostly excited to delve into it. I’m so used to taking on tasks and actioning them myself but now it’s the complete opposite and I’m having to delegate and guide others in their work. My focus now is to develop my management style and be the best leader I can be, supporting my teams to perform in the best way possible.
“Without the scheme, I would never have had this opportunity. I don’t think I would even have discovered trade credit insurance but the scheme has brought me to something I really enjoy as well as furthering my education and forging my career. It provides the perfect combination of learning and work experience so you can learn the theory and then apply it in the workplace. You’re exposed to so much from so many different angles and there is brilliant networking too – I now have 20 to 30 friends across the financial services industry in South Wales and we link in together and share our experiences.”
“Without doubt, the scheme is absolutely fantastic. If you’re thinking of applying, do it! If you’re successful, take any opportunity that comes your way. Ask questions, don’t be afraid to challenge and take advantage of your position to make as much change as possible – for the better!”
For more information on Atradius, visit the website https://atradius.co.uk.
You can also follow @AtradiusUK on Twitter and AtradiusUK on LinkedIn.