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Beth Willis-Betts, Becky Hegarty and Laura Gooch all started their level 5 CIPD apprenticeship earlier this year. Little did they know that they’d be studying during a global pandemic. Here, they reveal how AXA has supported them with study and their different experiences of working from home.
Becky Hegarty, Employee Relations Consultant at AXA Insurance, first joined the company almost 20 years ago as a temp, before moving into banking and then our HR team 11 years ago. Her current role sees her support managers with their employee queries but she was keen to expand her knowledge into the wider world of HR. Likewise, her colleague Beth Willis-Betts, currently an Employee Relations Consultant, but soon moving into Wellbeing Lead for AXA Health, knew the CIPD training would be a good grounding for her new role. While Laura Gooch, CPCR Admin Team Leader, recently took a secondment into HR as an Employee Relations Consultant and thoroughly loved it. “I’d previously completed my level 3 CIPD training but I wanted to push myself and get a broader understanding of the HR world,” says Laura.
Friends for life
All three women were friends and colleagues before starting the apprenticeship and have found each other’s support absolutely invaluable. “When lockdown started I needed to find my feet with working from home and going from being face-to-face to video calls only was challenging. That’s why it’s been great to go on this journey with Becky and Beth,” says Laura. “It’s really helped me that we’re doing it together and able to share content and support each other.” Becky agrees, “It’s been brilliant to go through this together. AXA has been very supportive and my manager has mentored me and given me lots of advice – I call her my CIPD rock!” That’s not to say it hasn’t been challenging. “During the first lockdown I was caring for my mother and volunteering in the local community, with one child to home school and another recently off to university – I’ve had to be very dedicated to my training,” says Becky.
Beth has loved the opportunity to work from home as she’s a self-confessed home body and is very self-motivated. “I think I’ve actually benefitted from the training being in lockdown,” she says, “because all the sessions have been from home, so there’s less to organise and because I talk to people all the time in my job, I haven’t felt isolated at all – plus I don’t have to drive into the office!”
Practice makes perfect
The impact of the pandemic meant that all three women were able to put in practice what they’d learnt. “Part of the apprenticeship is providing evidence of your knowledge, skills and behaviour,” explains Beth. “This year in particular has meant I’ve learnt a lot about reactive management and we’ve had to work quickly and closely together. For example, our CEO gave people five paid days to volunteer for the NHS and we had to figure out how that would work with all our systems and any potential repercussions.”
For Becky, the apprenticeship has already been a huge success and she’s enjoying learning and improving herself. “It’s opened my eyes to see how the cogs move behind the scenes and all the HR work that goes into making AXA the best it can be. I’ve had so much support from the business and everyone has been willing to help and give up their time, even when they don’t know you!” Beth adds, “I simply love working at AXA because people want you to develop and progress, it’s a brilliant culture to be working in.”
Interested in an apprenticeship at AXA? Find out about our current opportunities here.