08 Mar 2019
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Aiming higher – National Apprenticeship Week 2019

This week is National Apprenticeship Week! Each day, we will be bringing you insights to celebrate apprentices across Sodexo UK & Ireland and encourage others to think about apprenticeships as a tool for career development.

A stereotype that haunts apprenticeships is that they are only available for entry level qualifications and “low-end” roles. This simply is not true! At Sodexo, we offer apprenticeships as an option for career development for employees at all company levels, from senior leadership to frontline.

Sodexo currently has seven employees across the UK and Ireland completing degree and masters level apprenticeship programmes and encourages others to do the same!

Fiona Stewart, contract director for Student Living by Sodexo (Sodexo Schools & Universities) has just started the process of enrolling for a postgraduate degree in executive facilities management at Sheffield Hallam University. She is currently responsible for a team of 50 at Northumbria University. They have the huge responsibility of looking after 2,700 young adults, most of whom are away from home for the first time. In 2018, Fiona was recognised as Account Director of the Year at the annual PFM Awards.

After joining Sodexo in 2016, Fiona has already completed a two-year Level 6 Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management extended diploma. She had to complete nine assignments, but still managed to finish three months ahead of her deadline!

“I initially found the assignments difficult as I hadn’t studied for many years, however I soon got into the swing of things. I really loved the sense of achievement after passing each assignment.”

Fiona thinks that self-development is important to set a precedent for her colleagues, and demonstrates to her team that she is continually wanting to learn.

“Continuing to learn and develop myself feels the right thing to do, I never completed a degree when I was younger, so having the opportunity now to do a Masters via an apprenticeship is a fantastic opportunity for me. Enrolling into the Masters has encouraged two of my direct reports to also enrol on a degree apprenticeship.”

Pictured: Fiona at the 2018 PFM Awards being presented with the Account Director of the Year award!

As part of her passion for development, Fiona has been involved in some Sodexo “extra-curricular” activities, including being part of the Sodexo SoTogether employee network leadership team. Her role in the network is Sodexo UK & Ireland’s ambassador for the new SoTogether FM Hub.

The SoTogether FM Hub was launched on 5 March in celebration of International Women’s Day (8 March). It is a sub-group of the SoTogether employee network and is a global initiative with a very clear mission: to increase gender diversity in facilities management roles at Sodexo.

“I attended the launch of the SoTogether FM Hub and participated in the panel discussion. I talked about my career and how I got into FM, and answered questions about my role as the UK and Ireland’s ambassador. My role is to encourage more women into FM, promote gender equality across Sodexo FM and act as a role model for people to support and develop their careers.”

Fiona has spoken at other conferences promoting gender equality within FM, including most recently the IWFM Women in FM conference. She will be speaking at future events, so keep your eyes peeled!

You can read more about what Sodexo is doing to celebrate International Women’s Day here.

The postgraduate degree that Fiona has enrolled in starts in October 2019. She is keen to promote the enrolment process and encourages others to take advantage where they can – funding is available at Sodexo through the apprenticeship levy scheme*.

“I would recommend and encourage everyone at all levels in the business, where they have the opportunity to learn and develop to go for it and share the learning with others, this is very important.”

If you are a Sodexo employee and would like to get involved with the SoTogether FM Hub, please visit the SoTogether Sodexo_Net page for more information – you can also join the Sodexo Yammer community.

We wish Fiona the best of luck for her apprenticeship and hope that she has inspired you to aim high and become a Sodexo apprentice. If you are interested, please click here to register your interest.

We’re at the end of 2019’s National Apprenticeship Week. The final winner of the Sodexo prize draw (8 March) is Emerson Silva – congratulations Emerson for being our final winner!

Anyone can upskill through an apprenticeship programme, so whether you are a Sodexo long server or a newbie starting out on your Sodexo journey – why not up-skill and learn something new?

If you are looking to improve your skills and develop your career, you can still register your interest – click here. #SodexoApprentices

*There may be differences in funding and accessibility for Scotland, Wales and Ireland

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