My name is Zainab Musa and I’ve just completed the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship. After leaving school at 18, I did a Level 3 apprenticeship which was the first experience I had of working. Having really enjoyed that and wanting to go into further education, I applied for the L’Oreal Degree Apprenticeship with Pearson College London, enabling me to get loads of experience whilst studying a degree in Business Management.
As part of the programme, I worked as a Supply Chain Degree Apprentice at L’Oreal. I was tasked with working directly with large e-commerce customers such as Amazon and Ocado. My role mainly consisted of ensuring L’Oreal delivered the right stock levels of cosmetics and shampoo to these businesses, especially during peak seasons like Amazon’s Prime Day, Black Friday and Christmas.
Highlights and Challenges
My top highlight was working on my own individual project which enabled me to help the business to recover £500k of debt from a customer due to system and catalogue management issues that I noticed then resolved. I worked with many stakeholders to drive improvements to the supply chain processes which were needed to retrieve the funds including commercial and finance teams, so it was very exciting!
Another highlight was achieving a Distinction in my End Point Assessment and a key part of that was due to the results of the project that I worked on. The project represents a key milestone for me as it enabled me to showcase the supply chain skills that I gained during my time as an apprentice. It also enabled me to develop my influencing and problem-solving skills within L’Oreal which led me to gaining a full time role as a Supply Planner once I completed the apprenticeship.
On the other hand, my biggest challenge was figuring out how to balance work and study. I worked long hours during busy seasons like Christmas where we had large customer orders, so it was important to ensure that I didn’t neglect my studies due to work. My biggest learning curve was not being afraid to ask for help when work levels were high, as my managers and the team at Pearson College London were incredibly helpful when I did ask for support.
The biggest lesson I have gained is to trust the process and never give up. The degree apprenticeship was challenging as it required a lot of time and energy, but it gave back in lots of ways, enabling me to develop my experience in the working world and exposing me to the inner operational workings of a multinational consumer goods company.
I am much more interconnected now as I work closely with teams in France and Spain as a Supply Planner, responsible for bringing stock into the UK for multi-million-pound hair care brands. I would not have reached this position without the drive that I had to complete my Degree Apprenticeship. I gained a lot of resilience that I think will help drive me forward in future. I’m often told that I am a very calm and reassuring person at times when work is challenging but I believe it is because the this experience has built my character and skill set.
Advice to Others
Apprenticeships are a great way into employment and are really valued so don’t doubt not going through the traditional university route.
If you like the idea of working while you study, an apprenticeship can be a massive investment into your future career. It will not only give you lots of experience in the working world, develop your employability skills and boost your self-esteem but can also help take the pressure off worrying about how you’ll get your foot in the job market.
If you do decide to apply for an apprenticeship, do make time to think about what kind of roles and organisations you’d like to apply for. My top tip would be to use the STAR framework (Situation, Task, Action, Result) when answering application and job interview questions as you’ll give more focussed answers that will help you to emphasise your profile and shine.
If you would like to find out more about Degree Apprenticeships at Pearson College London you can visit this dedicated webpage.