07 February 2020
Over the last few days, we have been celebrating National Apprenticeship Week in the UK, which brings the whole apprenticeship community together to celebrate the impact of apprenticeships on individuals, employers and the economy.
In 2018, we launched our own apprenticeship programme to take on the next generation of talent - people who enjoy working in a fast-paced environment who are natural problem solvers, and who want to understand our customer needs and work hard to deliver these and exceed expectations.
Our sector is changing, so we actively seek those who are willing to challenge the status quo and who can spot new opportunities to put forward simple or innovative ideas to help us do what we do even better.
We were very fortunate to have Elise Harris join our team through this programme in September 2018. Elise had studied English literature, art and psychology at college, but was looking to launch her own career in a slightly different direction and take on a new challenge.
Having found our opportunity through the Government’s Find an apprenticeship service, she was attracted by its Level 4 grading (equivalent to a higher education certificate or foundation degree), which suited her skill set more than the Level 3 opportunities she had found elsewhere (equivalent to A levels or NVQ Level 3). Her dad’s background in the logistics industry had also provided her with a solid grounding of knowledge in the sector, which she was keen to build upon.
Our recruitment process is very much focused on not only whether a candidate is right for GEFCO, but whether GEFCO is right for them. We start with making it as easy as possible for the best candidates to find us, speak to us and engage with us. For Elise, this involved an initial phone interview to fit in around her busy schedule with minimum disruption to her day.
Having passed with flying colours, she then joined us for a two face-to-face interviews, where she presented her understanding of the job role, demonstrated her Excel skills and allowed everyone to get a feel for how she and the team got on together.
Since joining the team, Elise has embarked on a rotational programme to give her experience in departments across the business at our Prologis Park head office. She is currently on a three-month stint with the operations team, learning first-hand what their role in the business is and assisting with tasks from data management to booking transport and speaking with customers on a daily basis.
We value and are committed to our employees’ development, and believe that training is about capability building. Our employees value being given the time and room to develop and grow. That’s why we have ensured our apprenticeship programmes give our employees opportunities to fast track their leadership skills, by building project management schemes for initiatives they care about.
Elise is passionate about the environment and sustainability, and was a natural candidate to lead Project Zero, our initiative to reduce single use plastics across the UK business, from the offset.
She is currently overseeing work to remove plastic cups and any unnecessary plastics from across the Prologis Park office, and will be presenting the team’s strategy and progress to date to stakeholders at our next Supplier Day. “I’ve been responsible for data analysis and leading the team, building my project management skills through direct learning, which has been an invaluable experience for me,” says Elise. “I’ve been able to work with lots of different departments and colleagues that I wouldn’t normally have met so quickly, and it’s been great to understand how to tackle environmental issues in the business world”.
Being part of a global company means that diversity and inclusivity are in our DNA. “There are a lot of women working at GEFCO, which has been a really good experience for me,” says Elise. “Our Commercial Director, Vicky Arnold, is someone I really look up to, and it’s amazing to see so many driven women working in logistics. I could see in my first interview that there were great opportunities for women in the business - it’s an equal playing field for everyone”.
We believe that a happy workplace is a successful workplace, and we are lucky enough to have an MD and managers who really believe in this. So creating an environment that is a fun place to work, where people can grow and achieve both personal and career goals is a strategic priority for us.
“This has been my first ‘real’ job, and in a short space of time I’ve gone from having no real experience to working across departments and projects with senior colleagues and customers,” says Elise. ”It’s been a great boost for my confidence, and I’m looking forward to continuing my journey with the business.”
I’ve been able to work with lots of different departments and colleagues that I wouldn’t normally have met so quickly, and it’s been great to understand how to tackle environmental issues in the business world
Tender Centre Analyst