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Spotlight on… Financial Services Graduate Esyllt Lewis

Esyllt is coming to the end of the Welsh Financial Services Graduate Programme and has secured her dream role with Admiral. She reflects on her 2 year experience on the Programme and gives her advice for future graduates.

What attracted you to the Welsh Financial Services Graduate Programme?

The opportunity to experience four different placements within four different companies in Cardiff was the main thing that attracted me to the Programme.

Had you always wanted a career in Finance?

No, after finishing my mathematics degree I had no idea what type of career I wanted to pursue, and I didn’t really know what options were available to me. I knew that I enjoyed the finance aspect within my degree, therefore I decided to pursue that path and eventually found myself leaning towards the data and analytics route.

Can you tell us about your experience on the Programme since the first rotation?

My first rotation was within the Credit Risk team at Vauxhall Finance. In this role I had the opportunity to develop my coding skills which I really enjoyed. I probably learnt the most within this role, especially as I was also learning all the softer skills that are associated with working in a business environment.

My second rotation was within the finance team at Optimum Credit where I had the chance to develop accounting skills. After joining the programme I had always intended on trying to secure at least one placement within this type of role and I’m glad I did as I really enjoyed being able to take responsibility and ownership of my own tasks, such as daily bank reconciliations and processing customer payments.

I spent my third rotation within the commercial lending team at Hodge Bank which was a completely different role for me. This placement pushed me outside of my comfort zone whilst working within a project team and I had the opportunity to learn about project management. If I hadn’t joined the scheme, I don’t think I would have ever been able to experience this type of role, therefore I am very grateful that I had the opportunity.

Since leaving my first role at Vauxhall Finance, I knew that I wanted to experience another analytical role where I was able to further develop my coding skills for my final rotation. Therefore, I was thrilled when I found out that I’d secured a role as a fraud data analyst within Admiral Group for my final rotation, as soon as I started I knew that this was the right role and company for me which is the reason I decided to stay in this role.

Do you think you’d be working for the company/role had you not taken part in the programme?

I think I would have applied for the role If I had not taken part in the programme, however, I think being able to experience the different roles within the different companies gave me the opportunity to find out exactly the type of role I was most suited to. This meant that when I did start at Admiral, I instantly knew the role was right for me, whereas if I had gone straight into the role from university I might not have appreciated it as much.

Do you think there is a clear pathway for progression on the Programme?

Yes definitely, I think that you can either gain a wealth of experience by trying out different roles and therefore being able to choose what is best suited to you, or you can experience the same role but within different companies which would make you more specialised in that field moving forward.

What surprised you the most about the Programme?

I didn’t consider the benefits of studying for the MSc before starting the programme, and it surprised me how useful it was being able to apply theory to practice in my different roles.

How have you balanced your full- time work and studying for the MSc?

It wasn’t easy and it took time to get into a routine. I think everyone works differently, but I found that putting aside time during the weekend to study meant that in the week I could focus on my full-time work and relax in the evenings and this seemed to work best for me.

Do you feel the employers treated you as an employee or as a graduate?

Definitely, if you make an effort to work hard and are willing to learn then you’ll be respected and treated as any other member of staff.

What makes this graduate programme different?

The opportunity to work and be based in Cardiff are the stand out differences. Many graduate programmes or financial services companies have offices in London or different cities where you are expected to travel, but the fact that every employer on the scheme is in Wales is great.

Can you share one of your career highlights since you embarked on the programme?

I would probably say securing a permanent position at Admiral doing a role I genuinely enjoy!

What advice would you give to graduates who are thinking about applying to the programme?

Make the most of the networking opportunities. I am very grateful to have met so many great people and have so many contacts that I can draw on in the future.

Thanks to Esyllt for taking part and we wish you the best of luck in your new, permanent role with Admiral!

Find out more about the Welsh Financial Graduate Programme here