We sat down with Emily Lawrence, Chartered Manager Degree Apprentice at Pearson Plc, who has just spent just over one month at the Pearson Plc office in Manila, The Philippines.
Can you give me a bit of background about the programme and your role in the UK?
The International Rotational Degree Apprenticeship programme is very similar to other degree apprenticeships, I work 4 days a week within Pearson Plc and study Business Management one day each week within Pearson Business School; the only twist is that during each year of my degree, I travel on an international placement for at least one month in a Pearson office abroad.
I am part of the Student Recruitment team at Pearson College London and it is my role to go out to schools and colleges to inform people about Pearson College London and the amazing opportunities it has to offer students.I attend careers fairs and also deliver workshops and presentations within schools too. I also attend UCAS Fairs as another way to ensure that we get to meet prospective students and tell them all about what it’s like to study at Pearson College London.
Where did you go for your placement?
I went to Manila in the Philippines on my placement. Manila is not only the country’s capital, but it is also it's financial, publishing and business centre.
What role did you do on your placement?
On my placement, I was working for Pearson Plc, aFTSE 100 company. I was working with the HR team under a variety of different teams including the Global Service Desk (GSD) team, Recruitment and Onboarding (R&O) team and the Workforce and Assignment (WFA) team. I didn't have one specific role for the duration of my placement as the aim was to get an understanding of our whole HR operation.
The GSD team mainly deal with questions and enquiries about our HR systems and also with editing staff databases. To give me the most experience whilst there, I rotated through a variety of different shift patterns as well as teams, the most common shifts are known as the morning shift, mid-day shift and the evening shift. There are a variety of different shifts so that they are operating 24 hours a day so all the Pearson offices from around the globe are able to talk to the teams throughout their countries working day and get the quickest turnaround time for their enquiry.
Describe a typical day in your role in Manila.
A typical day in Manila involved answering any HR tickets that had been assigned to me, most of these would be from the UK employees regarding updating their Fusion profiles (Fusion is another internal HR system used within Pearson).
Then throughout my day, I would have on average about 5 meetings each with different people from the team I was working within that week. The meetings would be side by sides (SBS) for me to gain an understanding of their role within the team and the processes they used to complete the many tasks that they’re assigned to do. This allowed me to gain a lot of understanding on all the teams and the roles they play with the Pearson HR support systems it has in place for its employees.
Was there any positive feedback from Pearson colleagues abroad about the projects that you were involved in?
I was informed at the end of my placement that I was a great help for all of the teams, as I provided feedback on their SBS sessions.The SBS sessions are often provided to interns working within the HR team too, so it was useful for me to tell them what could be improved and if I felt I understood the role and what I needed to do from the SBS session.
Also, it was helpful for me to provide them with my knowledge of different areas of the business that they weren’t aware of or needed clarification on.
What did you get up to outside of work?
Outside of work I tried to explore the country as much as possible. Manila itself is a business district so there isn't much there apart from office buildings and shopping malls, so I did a lot of shopping whilst I was there!
In addition, I visited the local aquarium, Imelda Marcus shoe museum, and a historical site called Fort Santiago, each of these took a whole day as the traffic in Manila is heavy, due to the city being home to 13 million people.
Furthermore, I got to visit an island called Cebu, where I saw the Kawasan Falls which were beautiful; I also went snorkelling, where I swam with turtles and got to see dolphins too!
How has this opportunity enabled you to develop professionally?
I feel very rejuvenated in my Pearson beliefs and values: accountable, decent, brave and imaginative. It has allowed me to gain so many skills in a vast range of areas, as I’veworked within 5 different teams as part of the huge HR team that are based in Manila; this has given me the best understanding of our HR operations too. It has also helped me to understand how different teams operate differently and how to handle various business situations, such as when speaking to candidates who have applied for a vacancy and also VP’s from other areas of the business who had flown in from the US to work with the HR team for 2 weeks.
What skills have you learnt that you can bring back to your UK role?
I have learnt a lot of office-based skills that I can bring back to my role in the UK. Although when I’m in my UK role I don't spend a huge amount of time in the office, it will help me when I am based within the office. The main skills I have improved are my time management, learning to prioritise certain tasks and my communication skills.
How can you apply this to your studies?
I can apply this to my studies as I now have a much deeper understanding of HR and organisational processes, which can be very widely applied in a range of my university modules. It will also help with references to real-life business examples needed as part of my research modules. I also want to use my knowledge of the value of placements to write my dissertation.
Did you take any cultural learnings from the placement that you can apply to your work or studies?
In the Philippines they are very strict on their time management if a meeting is scheduled for 7pm-8pm the meeting will start at 7pm and will finish at exactly 8pm.
They are also very friendly and always willing to help; they are constantly asking their colleagues throughout their shift if they need any help with work. In addition, they have also shown me how adaptable and flexible they are in order to help deal with hard business situations to achieve a positive outcome.