Why did you apply for Barnett Waddingham?
I graduated from university in the midst of the pandemic. The uncertainty of what I would do for a living upon leaving university was only compounded by the general uncertainty in society, so I decided to look for stability in a career.
The graduate program here at Barnett Waddingham looked like it would offer what I was looking for. The structure and timeframes were clearly established, as well as what I would be doing. The fact that it was a graduate program was highly appealing as it meant that I would be working with other bright, young colleagues looking to start off their careers, who would be able to push each other to achieve great things.
Pensions was an area that I had little familiarity with, and that excited me. On researching the industry, I realized that pensions aren’t going anywhere, and that was a major positive as it clearly meant stability, one of the key factors that I valued.
Researching Barnett Waddingham showed me a company that had well-defined values that it stood by. I was encouraged by the fact that the company was large but not massive, as it would suggest a better, more tight-knit company culture whilst also being well-established and respected in the industry.
Overall, the company culture and potential of the pensions industry seemed like a good fit for what I was looking for in a career, so it made sense to apply.
What was the recruitment process like?
After completing an application form which required me to talk about why my skills were suitable for the job and why I wanted to work for the company, I was contacted by Erik, the Early Careers Manager who arranged for a fairly informal telephone interview where I was given a bit more information about the company and the role, and expanded on some of my application answers.
I was then invited to an interview day at the Birmingham office, which is where I would be working. A number of other candidates were also present. The day consisted of several activities testing various abilities. There was a fairly standard interview with two senior staff members which felt relaxed and natural. In advance of the day, I was asked to prepare a ten-minute presentation on a topic of my choice. I chose to present on the NFL. This was again a relaxed situation as I only had to present to another two staff members rather than, say, a room full of people.
The final stage of the day was to plan a fictional event with the other candidates. Working with people I had only met a few hours before was a challenge but also one that I was motivated for, and we were fortunately able to plan and present to a room of senior staff in a way that I was happy with.
Shortly after the interview day, I was offered the position. I felt that it was a productive recruitment process as it allowed me to demonstrate my skills in an environment that didn’t feel overly stressful or demanding.
What have been your highlights?
I have enjoyed the opportunity to visit several of the company’s offices around the country and in some cases meet colleagues personally that I had only collaborated with virtually previously. On that note, a broader highlight has been the friendliness and personability of my colleagues. It is clear that Barnett Waddingham has a well-defined idea of the traits that they want applicants to have.
I have been grateful for the company’s support in achieving professional qualifications. I am pleased with my ability to come into the pension industry with no knowledge of how it worked, and achieve two industry-recognized qualifications in less than eighteen months.
It’s also been rewarding to be involved with the development and continuation of the graduate scheme, both in suggesting ways to improve it as it goes on, and to support the newer graduates in the group that have joined the year following my group.
What have been your challenges?
I saw two main areas that would challenge me in this role that I identified as essentially technical and interpersonal. I had never worked in an office environment before, so it was necessary for me to quickly adjust to life in a professional environment. The other was picking up the information I would need to do the technical side of the job.
I believe that there were fairly high expectations of me and my graduate group, as we were hired on the basis that we were university graduates and would therefore be well-equipped to adapt, so I personally wanted to overcome these challenges as best I could to repay the faith that was placed in me.
I have been well-supported by everyone at Barnett Waddingham and feel that I have done well at tackling these challenges.
What advice would you give to a student following in your footsteps?
I would say to approach everything with enthusiasm and an open mind. These are things that people will appreciate. Also take as many opportunities as you can, as you never know who you will meet and potentially impress. Having a network of colleagues will serve you well and one of the best ways to get in touch with those you don’t typically work with is through taking opportunities that you are offered.
Although you might be new to the job, don’t be afraid to put your ideas forward, as even the most experienced of Barnett Waddingham colleagues will want to hear ways to improve the business, and will probably appreciate your insight even further as a fresh perspective on things.