Meet Shehr, Remediation Business Apprentice
Shehr joined EY in September 2018 on our Remediation Business Apprenticeship in London. Below she tells us about her role and experience at EY so far.
How did you first hear about EY?
I completed my A-levels in 2017 and decided to take a gap year instead of doing a degree at University. During my gap year, I came across EY from a friend who currently works in the Assurance Service Line. I decided to search the Apprenticeships EY offered and took an interest in the Business Remediation Programme which at the time was brand-new.
What is your current role? What does your role entail?
I am currently doing an apprenticeship in Business Consulting, Remediation.
My role as an apprentice involves a variety of things. The majority of my time is spent on client work which has been a great way to get hands-on experience. I also have to complete mandatory training, professional qualifications, and a portfolio of evidence in order to pass the apprenticeship. We are given a study morning every week to help us work towards this.
In terms of my role on client work specifically, the remediation projects we deliver for our clients typically involve helping clients fix issues they have encountered, to ensure their customers have been treated fairly. I have worked on two major client projects since joining EY. My first project role involved working on behalf of our client as ‘Case Reviewer’ to perform calculations to determine if their customers have suffered any financial loss and, if they had, how much compensation they were owed. My second project role has involved me checking the decisions made on customer reviews performed by our client to ensure they have reached the right outcomes. As part of this role I have to listen to calls that our client had with its customers in the past and decide whether they were given sufficient information to make an informed decision about the financial product they purchased. If they have not reached the right outcome, it’s my job to provide feedback on what action should be taken to ensure this is rectified and to ensure the customer will be treated fairly in the future.
What surprised you most about EY when you started?
I was surprised mostly by the friendly and welcoming environment the team created for me and the other apprentices I joined with. For example, since the start of my apprenticeship, I have had a ‘buddy’ who has acted as my informal point of contact. My ‘buddy’ has been very flexible with their time to meet at my convenience when I have had informal matters and queries to discuss, such as practicing presentations. They have also introduced me to other colleagues which has given me the chance to build a network of my own. I also have a counsellor, who has continuously supported me throughout the programme. I have regular meetings with my counsellor to discuss matters like any exam support I have needed and progression within my project to build my confidence in the skills I have learnt within my case reviewing role. Also, after the firm-wide induction, my team ran an interactive session for us where we discussed in greater detail the purpose of remediation and the current projects our team were working on, as well as the structure of the apprenticeship programme itself. Having this support enabled me to adjust to the new environment quickly and knowing I could turn to any of my colleagues (seniors included) for assistance was very reassuring.
What sort of clients do you have? Do you work with technology in your role?
So far, I have worked with a large UK bank, particularly within their commercial business and a large insurance firm, within the pensions sector.
As an apprentice, I have had exciting opportunities to test new technology involving automation of case reviews. EY and PEGA have co-developed what’s called ‘NextGen Technology’ with the input of the Remediation team. Investing in this technology has meant that we will be able to change the way current review work is completed so that our projects are delivered more efficiently for our clients. Recently, I have tested the ‘NextGen’ technology currently being developed. I have had the opportunity to provide feedback on the user experience from a ‘case reviewer’ perspective. It’s really exciting to know that my feedback will be used in enhancing and developing this technology further to make it more effective. Developing this technology means that the work we do in the future will become more exciting as the technology will be able to automate tasks like reading documents and data entry which has traditionally been performed by a human. This will allow us to focus on more interesting and complex work for our clients. I have also used new systems and software that third parties have created for our clients which involve some elements of artificial intelligence in my case reviews. This was surprising for me as I learnt how quickly technology can progress and how much of an impact it can have on my work.
Is your daily job what you thought it’d be like? How has your role progressed since you started?
No - I was genuinely not expecting to be given as much responsibility as I have been given since I joined the apprenticeship, in a positive way. I thought I would be doing administrative focused tasks for the team, which I guess might be a stereotype of many apprenticeships in some industries. Since my first day, I have been given responsibilities and deadlines to meet which has helped me develop and progress towards the role I am aiming qualify for at the end of the apprenticeship programme (senior consultant). I have been given the opportunity to present to senior colleagues on internal and client related work. This has given me the chance to build my skills and confidence and receive feedback on how I can continue to develop in the future.
Since I started my apprenticeship, I have worked on two different client projects. Although I have undertaken a ‘case reviewer’ type role on both projects (reviewing sales of financial services products that our clients made to its customers) there have been different responsibilities that I have been required to meet. My first role was performing the reviews on behalf of our client (a UK commercial bank) and required me to perform calculations to determine how much compensation the customer might be owed. This role required a lot of attention to detail but was more simple than the project I am currently working on. On my current project I have to listen to calls our client (a large UK insurer) had with it’s customers and make judgements on whether they provided sufficient information to comply with the relevant regulatory requirements. I am also checking to see whether I agree with the decisions that the client has made on specific cases. This role requires more technical knowledge of the regulations that apply which I have gained through my professional qualifications.
I’ve also progressed in my role by becoming more involved in activities and initiatives outside of client work. I am involved in helping to co-ordinate and input ideas in to a focus group aiming to improve reward and recognition of achievements both in and out of work. This has given me the opportunity to help highlight and recognise excellence within our team and encourage others to demonstrate their fantastic skills, whether that be a sport they play in or brilliant problem-solving skills within their project. I also actively assist the student recruitment team here at EY, and volunteer to represent EY at Apprenticeship events, where I have been able to share my experiences with young individuals who are interested in applying to EY. I find this really rewarding.
Do you feel like you have career options?
Yes, I certainly feel I have career options from this apprenticeship. Through my project work and the more structured learning we complete as part of the apprenticeship, I am developing a wide range of skills and knowledge which will be valuable to me in my future career at EY. I am also working with other EY Advisory teams such as the Data and Analytics team and Performance Improvement teams. As part of the apprenticeship we have lots of opportunity to build our internal and external networks. Networking is an important element for career progression as meeting and interacting with other individuals could open up chances to work with them in the future.
Do you find it easy to juggle work and a social life?
Yes, most of the time. When it was exam season, which occurred twice this year, I did have to spend some of my own time revising and I did not see as much of my family or friends as I would normally. I was focused on passing these exams as they are a mandatory part of the apprenticeship and vital to my career. Considering that I’ve now passed both of my exams and achieved my qualification, and how much I learnt from completing it, I think that the sacrifice was worth it. Outside of exam time, I have generally been able to maintain a good balance, as the role is quite structured, so it is easier to set aside time for work and family.
Do you have any proud moments/ major events/ exciting experiences to share?
I joined the first ever intake of my particular apprenticeship at EY and I take pride in being the first female apprentice in the Advisory service line. I feel like I am paving the way for more females to join EY and the financial services sector in general. I’m proud to work with some particularly inspirational female role-models (my counsellor and my buddy). They are always ensuring I am exposing myself to the different opportunities EY offers me. Considering that there is still a gender gap in the financial services industry, I feel proud to work for a company that promotes the advancement of women in the workplace very actively. I hope I can encourage more females to apply considering how welcome I have felt at EY!
I am also proud of achieving a 100% quality score in my case reviews on my first client engagement. This was my first ever project at EY and I had no prior experience in the type of case reviewing I carried out. Initially I lacked confidence but I was given specific training for the role and I also had 1:1 support from a manager on the project to answer questions I had. Going from a scenario where everything was completely new to being able to deliver 100% quality work felt like a really big achievement. I’m proud that I was one of the few people on the team who achieved such a high-quality score and I have been able to carry this forward on to my new project so far.
What advice would you give someone trying to decide whether to join EY?
If you are deciding to join EY, my advice would be to do your research and carefully consider your options. It’s worth taking the time to consider what the pros and cons of an apprenticeship are vs other alternatives such completing a degree at university or not enrolling at university at all. This really helped me in making my decision to apply for the apprenticeship with EY. For example, I knew that I would be getting paid to study and work instead of paying university fees to study. I realised that I would have four years of experience at a highly valued firm plus relevant professional qualifications for my job that are recognised in the financial services industry. If I completed a degree, I would not have the same level of experience and could potentially have to complete further qualifications to suit my role. I would also recommend you browse the EY website to see what the firm does holistically, and read about the values and ethics of EY. If you think you want to assist with the challenges our clients face today and work in an environment where your ideas are considered and developed, then I definitely think it’s worth applying!
What advice would you give to your younger self just before you started at EY?
Be more open to wider opportunities as well as studying for your A-levels or equivalent qualifications! I’ve learnt that while employers often do require relevant qualifications from their candidates, they also look for a range of skills and experiences, for example, being a good team player, having confidence in your ideas and suggestions, and paying attention to detail when completing a piece of work. Try to put yourself out there and build a network where you can learn about the industry, this will help you to build a foundation of knowledge and skills that will help you to kickstart your career.