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Learning & Growing Together – Benefits of Investing in Apprenticeships Q&A

At BioPharma Dynamics we are big supporters of the apprenticeship scheme. So we took some time to speak to our sales apprentice Alex to gain insight into his experience working as part of the Advanced Therapies Apprenticeship Community (ATAC) scheme, provided by JGA Group.

Alex, what made you want to take part in an apprenticeship?

I found that whilst my higher education provided me with a wide range of knowledge, my skillset was limited to a particular niche role. So, when I decided not to progress further into academia and changed my career path – I was at an impasse. The apprenticeship offered me a structured program that would enable me to acquire the skills necessary for the new direction I was aiming for, while also providing relevant experience intertwining both study and hands-on work.

Apprentice wearing headphones while studying for his apprenticeship

How have you found your apprenticeship so far?

Challenging! Balancing the need to study with the requirement to fulfill my duties was a challenge for the initial months. But the support I received from the business really enabled me to get back on track.

The work is interesting and makes me engage with many aspects of the business that I did not anticipate, such as marketing and sales management rather than just sales activities. Which I find has helped me to contextualise the work I do and understand how all of the business’ actions contribute to the collective success.

What kind of projects at BioPharma Dynamics have you been doing as part of your apprenticeship?

A lot of the foundational work through this apprenticeship has made me examine with the way we do business and understand the reasons for doing so. I’ve explored our sales methods, our customer’s motivations and needs, sales strategy and the role of marketing within the company. As a result I developed the confidence to consult with my manager and colleagues to discuss their strategies and approaches, which in some cases has forced them to consider things that had not been formally addressed.

I’ve begun making forays into contacting and qualifying sales prospects which is a fantastic opportunity to tie in the work I do everyday to the skills I’m learning at the same time. As it stands, I’m getting quite good at talking to answering machines (and not bad at talking to real people, either!).

What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learnt so far?

Sales is more than just persuasive techniques and product knowledge. It’s self-discipline, time-management, resilience, and managing expectations. A lot of these skills benefit you not just on the phone to a customer but outside of your job as well.

Prior to starting my work at BioPharma Dynamics, the only experience I had with selling things was purely transactional. If I needed something, I walked into a store or logged on to a website, found a shelf or a product page and purchased it – often without any other person being involved.

The first thing my apprenticeship made me examine, before we could even consider how to sell to someone, is why? It opened my eyes to the fundamental truth underpinning any transaction – people purchase things because they solve a problem. If I’m hungry, my supermarket sells a solution for that; If I haven’t bought a gift for a family member’s upcoming birthday, Amazon sells a solution to that. If I’m developing a process to produce my new drug and need to keep my product sterile, BioPharma Dynamics sells a solution to that. It’s shockingly obvious in hindsight, but approaching any sales conversations with one ever-burning question in your mind – “how does what I’m selling help you?” – is the key to how we do business and the foundation on which all sales behaviours must be built.

two people smiling whilst working together

Do you have any advice for people looking to do an apprenticeship?

Be consistent. At University, like many of us, I’ve pulled all-nighters to finish a paper or read through lecture notes in the hours before a test and coped just fine. But juggling professional responsibilities alongside academic studies where there is a heavy overlap between the two, doesn’t lend itself to quick fixes if you break that consistency.

Create a schedule for yourself and stick to it! Being able to stay disciplined will help you stay productive, reach your goals, and reduce stress.

brown wooden blocks which spell plan, goal and discipline

It can be challenging for a small- or medium-sized enterprise (SME) to allocate full-time resources to training new employees. Apprenticeships offer an ideal solution for combining structured training programs with real-world employment experience.

BioPharma Dynamics are proud to be one of more than 100 companies benefitting from the Advanced Therapies Apprenticeship Community. Managing Director, Joe Brennan discusses the value of apprenticeships for businesses.

Joe, why as a business did you feel it important to offer apprenticeships at BioPharma Dynamics?

There are many reasons I’m in favour of apprenticeships and I was pleased when the business had got to a position in its growth that we could consider the option.

From a personal perspective, at the age of 17 I began my apprenticeship with the British Army at the Army Apprentice College and went on to serve as a Royal Engineer for 6 years. During this time, there were few apprenticeships available in industry and I had always wanted to learn a trade rather than continue my academic studies. I have utilized the skills learnt in that apprenticeship throughout my career and its also a time I look back on with great pride.

Apprenticeships provide an opportunity for continual learning which should not be denied to those who do not wish to pursue a degree. They keep that hunger to learn alive and feed industry with much needed talent. For those who have gone through the education route but are still not sure what they would like to pursue as a career, the apprenticeship scheme is a great way to upskill and start in employment at the same time.

What would you say is the main benefit of offering apprenticeships?

There is no doubt that for a successful programme there is investment to be made by all parties. For the business this is through dedicating the right support and infrastructure for the apprentice, and for the apprentice it is dedicating the time and commitment to the course. The greatest benefit of the process is apprenticeships allow a business to plan for the future and develop employee skills internally.

As part of a continual improvement plan, our apprenticeship program helps to mitigate potential skills shortages in the future while ensuring that learning remains up-to-date and relevant to our organisation.

What has been your experience in working with Advanced Therapies Apprenticeship Community?

From the outset the support from ATAC both in helping us identify the right provider for our business and also get the apprenticeship set up was invaluable. Also, under the ATAC umbrella our apprentices are able to interact with others in different roles within the Life Sciences industry, which gives great insight to all the varying needs of our industry.

They provide support to apprentices when adjusting to their new work environment, building their confidence in working with senior members of the company, offering advice for professional development and providing a better understanding of the apprenticeship programme.

As our Apprenticeship provider – JGA Group have been a great fit for the business. They have supported the integration of the programme into our daily business and the feedback loops which have been put in place really help both us and Alex. I have also found JGA to be very helpful in supporting general questions around the programme and insights into how other employers have overcome challenges in integrating an apprenticeship into their business.

If you’re interested in following in Alex’s footsteps, you can learn more about the Advanced Therapies Apprenticeship Community (ATAC) scheme, provided by JGA Group.

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