60 Second Interview: Sales specialist apprentice

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The chance to travel abroad, the flexibility, the variety – Chris loves everything about his IBM apprenticeship (except maybe the commute!) In today's interview, he tells us why he loves his job – and how you can follow in his footsteps.

Name: Chris Achiampong

Company: IBM

Industry: IT and the internet

What is your job? Sales specialist

How long have you worked here? 1 year


University: Pearson Business School (current)

Degree subject: Business and management

A-levels: English literature, business studies, history

1. What was your very first job?

My first job was in the corporate finance team at EY (Ernst & Young). I was a school leaver at EY.

2. What did you want to do when you were at school?

Whilst I was at school, I aspired to become a footballer. I played for Arsenal for four years from U12’s to U16’s. Unfortunately, I was involved in a career-ending injury, so that dream was short-lived.

3. How did you get there?

Initially, I joined IBM on the traditional apprenticeship scheme in the systems sales team, where I was completing my level 4 NVQ qualification. After working in my role for the best part of a year, my manager informed me of the new rotational degree apprenticeship scheme. I applied for it... and the rest is history!

4. What is a typical day like?

I work and support an experienced seller in the healthcare and life sciences industry. I travel to see various clients and business partners and the bulk of the work requires me liaising with people at IBM in different parts of the business e.g. sales and distribution, finance etc to ensure that deals go through smoothly.

5. What’s the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is the variety and flexibility it gives me. No day is the same! One minute I am pitching solutions to clients and the next I am talking to 16 year olds about the IBM apprenticeship scheme. It never gets boring. I have also had the opportunity to travel to Milan and France with work. IBM have provided me with phenomenal opportunities!

'"IBM have provided me with phenomenal opportunities!"—Chris, IBM apprentice'

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6. What is the most challenging thing about your job?

Currently, along-side working, I am also studying for a business and management degree at Pearson Business School. This means that I work in the office from Monday-Thursday and I attend university on Friday. This can be quite challenging as work from both sides can be quite demanding. However, my managers have been very supportive and considerate about this, so it does not jeopardise my performance.

7. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?

The real world is tough! It is highly competitive, therefore it is vital that you try and differentiate yourself. It is imperative to take advantage of the opportunities presented to you. Get involved in teams, societies, socials, set up initiatives. All of this will help you stand out from the crowd.

I always say that you may have all the A*’s in the world, but if you can’t do a job, complete tasks and show that you have the personal qualities and skills then it will be very difficult for you to succeed in the world of work.

9. What things do you wish you’d known before starting your career?

Before starting I wish I had known how terrible my commute will be in the summer. It is horrible!

10. Where would you like to be in five years?

In five years I would have liked to progress my career at IBM. I would have graduated university. IBM is extremely broad and diverse so it would be great to explore other parts of the business. If there were opportunities to work abroad or do a secondment in another company I would consider that, as I want to have great opportunities broaden my horizons.

On a personal note, I envisage that I would have purchased and moved into my own house. Also, I am currently on the board of trustees and chair of the Youth Panel for the EY Foundation – a charity helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into employment. I am also a school governor at the primary school I attended. I would like to continue my work in both capacities and hopefully make a more substantial difference to our community.

In addition, despite my injury, I still have a great passion for sports. If an opportunity around sports engagement and young people arose, I would consider it.

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Learn more about IBM

If Chris's story's got you inspired, you can be an IBM apprentice too! Take a look now at the brilliant programmes offered by IBM.

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