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Spotlight on… Financial Services Graduate Laura Bowles

We recently spoke with Laura, one of our Financial Services graduates, on her final placement. She shared her highlights, insights into her placements and how the WFSGP helped her discover where her passions lie when it came to her career.

What attracted you the Welsh Financial Services Graduated Programme?

The scheme appeared as a unique opportunity to gain experience in different roles within ambitious organisations in Wales. I was interested in gaining exposure to different cultures, ways of working and leadership styles. Gaining an MSc in Financial Services Management was another key motive for joining the scheme.

Had you always wanted a career in Finance?

I’ve always been interested in people, technology and science. I think that combination led me to where I am now.

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

My first rotation was with Development Bank of Wales in their marketing team, focusing on internal communications. In order to understand and improve the company’s internal communications, I set up an internal online survey, face to face focus group sessions and interviews which were then analysed to provide suggestions and solutions to the business. This placement enabled me to start applying theory (from psychology and business realms) to practice and helped me realise my interest in continuous improvement.

My second rotation was with Atradius as an SME Commercial Account Manager. This role exposed me to the “front” of the business and involved collaboration with brokers, customers and underwriters. This placement allowed me to better understand end user perspectives and business processes such as CDD (Customer Due Diligence).

My final rotation, which I am in my final month of, is with Atradius as an ITS project coordinator for a significant global business transformation programme. I am included in a variety of teams with members based in Cardiff, Amsterdam and Malaga (Delivery, Board, Leadership, Scrum, PMO, and Technical Authorities). The experience has given me strong oversight into project management, decision-making, governance, risk management and resourcing. I’ve realised that I thrive in dynamic project environments and enjoy collaborating with stakeholders at all levels.

Where are you working now?

I’m finalising my placement as an ITS Project Coordinator in Atradius. I’m excited that I’ll be joining Hodge Bank in April where I have secured a permanent role as a Change Portfolio & IS Service Support Analyst.

Do you think you’d be working where you are today had you not taken part in the programme?

The professional development and guidance from the WCCF, particularly from Rowena and Clare, has certainly helped in securing a permanent role. The experiences offered by the program enable the development of unique skills such as ability to network and adapt quickly, which employers’ value.

What surprised you the most about the Programme?

I was surprised at the level of responsibility we were able to take on, if motivated to do so. By which I mean, we were treated as employees, fully integrated into the businesses we were placed in and exposed to all sorts of scenarios faced by those business. I was also surprised by the level of trust the employers had in allowing us to pursue tasks and hold sensitive information.

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

Planning! Being aware of work and university deadlines and taking actions from there has allowed me to keep on top of both successfully.

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

The companies, managers and teams that I’ve encountered have treated me no differently to their permanent employees. The inductions and training opportunities we’ve been given have also been the same as employees.

What makes this graduate programme different?

• It’s in Wales. Most graduate schemes are London based.
• You get to try out different organisations. Most graduate scheme are based in one organisation.
• There is support from the WCCF for professional development.
• You get a funded Masters.

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

The most fun highlight has been taking the lead on organising three team building offsites based in Malaga, Cardiff and Amsterdam. Another highlight has been collaborating with ITS vendors such as IBM to bring about solutions for our business transformation programme.

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

You don’t need to be passionate about finance to go into the financial services industry. If you’re unsure on what type of role or company culture is for you then the WFSGP gives you the chance to explore different options. If successful in applying, I’d advise to make the most out of the roles and reach out by asking for more work if you’ve not got enough.

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

Find out more about the Welsh Financial Graduate Programme here