We sat down with Harry Sheehan, Chartered Manager Degree Apprentice at Pearson, who has just spent just over one month in New Delhi, India.
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 at Pearson Plc and study Business Management one day each week within Pearson Business School; the only twist is that each year of my degree, I get to go on one international placement for at least one month in a Pearson office abroad.
My current role has just changed - I am now an Internal Communications Coordinator within the Communications team. A big part of my role is making sure that students are aware of the activities that are available to them and also ensuring that all teams are communicating with each other, so everyone knows what they are doing.
Where did you go for your placement?
This year, I went to work in the Pearson Plc office in New Delhi in India, for about 5 weeks.
What role did you do on your placement?
While I was there, I was conducting market research for the Professional Programmes team, who put together corporate training for all sorts of fields. They had a hypothesis that a new training programme, designed for first-time managers, would be really beneficial in India, so my job was to either confirm or deny that hypothesis.
So what did a typical day look like?
The bulk of my research involved creating a questionnaire, and then reaching out to HR Managers and Learning and Development Heads from companies all over India.
I then compiled all of the data, came up with some analysis and insights, and then came up with a marketing candidate/persona of who the team should be targeting their marcomms towards. Then, I presented my information to the important people that I was working with.
Was there any positive feedback from Pearson colleagues abroad, about the projects that you were involved in?
Over email and in person, my colleagues were very impressed with the research that I carried out, which was great for me as it was not something I had done before. It has also really benefited my Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship portfolio as it has allowed me to have a great case study that I can use as evidence.
Also, I am going to present my research findings to the Executive Team in the UK, because they are looking at implementing a similar programme here, which is great as my insights are being translated over into the UK markets.
What did you get up to outside of work?
There was so much exploring to do! New Delhi has so many world-famous temples and buildings that you have to go and look at, so I spent most of my time taking pictures in front of really nice looking buildings.
I also went over to Agra for the weekend to see the Taj Mahal. It was about a 12 hour round trip but it was totally worth it. It was amazing!
How has this opportunity helped you to develop professionally?
I think that one of the big things is that the way that they conduct business in India is very different to in the UK. On the plus side, their meetings are way quicker than ours and they seem to be really efficient. For example, I was in a strategy meeting and they discussed four or five different strategies; they eliminated the ones that wouldn’t work and made the decision to test the others immediately. It was literally a half an hour meeting and they had so much to take out of the meeting.
What skills have you learnt that you can bring back to your UK role?
I think that the main thing is that I have never really done any professional calling before. I have had calls with colleagues and meetings before but professional calling is a totally different and new skill for me. So I think that this is something really positive that I can bring back to the UK.
How can you apply this to your studies?
I think that the market research techniques will be really useful for the various work-based research projects that I have to do as part of my degree apprenticeship.
Also, the time management side of things has been beneficial, because I was managing my project throughout the time I was in New Delhi. At the start of my time there, I put together a strict spreadsheet that displayed all of the tasks in quite a strict timeline because I didn’t have that much time compared to the work that I had to do.
I had a manager out there but he was really good at letting me manage myself and then checking in to make sure that everything was okay and then fixing any minor issues along the way, which I really enjoyed.
Did you take any cultural learnings from the placement that you can apply to your work or studies?
I think that it is stuff that I knew before such as being aware of what other people are doing and being aware of other people’s beliefs. I think that the point on efficiency earlier is something that I could bring and add value to my UK role, especially being in a new team.