My name is Monty O’Sullivan and I work for Barclays on the Higher Apprentice Program within Group Finance, at their global headquarters in Canary Wharf. Despite getting good grades at school and having a great set of peers, I didn’t particularly enjoy school so the idea of attending University, another three years in full time education, didn’t appeal to me. Despite how I felt, I still applied to a University and was offered a place on an Economics course at London Metropolitan University. But during my time, in Sixth Form I became more aware of the new Apprenticeships options available, both through careers talks at school and more own online research.
At first, my Mum was sceptical when we discussed that I wanted to do an Apprenticeship. Her view of them was in the more traditional sense of trade based roles and she was concerned that not having a degree would affect my future career prospects. Ironically, it was in the car on the way to a University open day that there was a segment on the radio focusing on higher apprenticeships in the financial sector. Not only did it change my Mum’s view but it also informed us of the companies offering apprenticeships. I knew I wanted to get into The banking industry as it had always fascinated me, so this helped me narrow down the potential companies to look into.
I looked on the Barclays website about their Apprenticeship program and I instantly knew it was for me. I had to wait a few months before the application window opened and checked back daily until my application could be submitted, knowing it was vital to get the application in early. After going through months of the intensive multi-staged recruitment process I was overjoyed to receive the news that I had been accepted.
I manage the production of certain financial reports that detail information on Barclays corporation tax from previous years and forecasting for the future years so that potential business partners and customers can see how the company is performing. Some of these files are monthly such as the ‘InForm allocations’, where others are larger and more detailed, I look at them on a quarterly and annual basis like the ‘Corporation Tax Computation’. The majority of my work is completed in Excel, something in which I had little experience with when joining. Within a couple of months of regularly using the system, I’m already comfortable using Excel and some of its more complex functions.
The support provided by the Apprenticeship Program is great. I have so many colleagues I can approach if I ever come across a problem; my line manager, other colleagues, fellow Apprentices be they older or some on my cohort and of course, those managing the scheme – the Apprentice Working Group.
The Apprenticeship lasts for four years and each year is spent in a different area of finance. I am currently in the Corporation Tax department specialising in Forecasting and Reporting but have also spent two months in VAT. I work four days in the office and one day a week I attend college where I am studying towards my AAT qualification, which will make me a qualified accountant. At the end of the four years, I will have AAT and the possibility to begin my ACA. Once I have finished my Apprenticeship, there are options to go straight into a role at Barclays or join the Graduate Scheme, something that will be discussed nearer the time with the Apprenticeship Working Group.
I don’t in any way regret my decision to follow this path, I am relieved that I will not have a large student debt and grateful for this fantastic opportunity to gain hands-on experience and qualifications whilst earning a competitive salary.