Three AXA Data Analyst Apprentices on their learning journeys

About AXA

AXA is an insurance company that is continuously striving to make people’s lives better and safer. They work tirelessly to innovate, supporting startups and new healthcare technology, while pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo.

AXA employees drive that forward-thinking mentality. They put their customer first and work together to build a data-driven company. To equip them to do their best and help future-proof the company, AXA focuses on giving their people the skills and capabilities they need.

AXA’s approach to data upskilling

Data is crucial to any insurance business. To properly invest in a programme for their employees with no previous formal data analytics training, AXA chose the Data Analyst Apprenticeship Avado offers.

AXA wanted to teach their employees how to use new techniques and transform not only the way they do their jobs, but how they think about the data they have access to. They also wanted to drive a cultural change and build a more insight-led, data-driven organisation.

Three AXA employees, Federica Pellegrini, Suzie Worthington, and Rob Fernyhough, are excellent examples of the kinds of results the organisation was looking for when they decided to upskill their employees. Each had a unique journey, and each is a part of futureproofing AXA’s workforce. Read on for their stories.

Federica Pellegrini on a whole new data world

As a business analyst at AXA, Federica was already able to apply her naturally analytical mind. She liked her job, but she was interested in working on more data-focussed projects, like data migrations and transformation.

“I wanted to shape my career towards the data world, but I didn’t know much about data. I wasn’t quite sure if I was interested in data analysis and data transformation, or if I was more interested in the infrastructure side,” Federica said. “So, when the apprenticeship was suggested to me, I decided to join.”

Through the Data Analyst Apprenticeship she completed with Avado, Federica learned about data transformation, about machine learning, and about data protection. She was able to learn more about GDPR and the data analysis life cycle, too. All this new information has made her feel more comfortable when working with data.

“I’ve been assigned some pieces of work that are data-related, which allowed me to practice during the apprenticeship and prepare my portfolio of projects,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot from the apprenticeship and I think AXA has benefitted as well.”

Federica is encouraging of her colleagues who are interested in data and speaks to the benefits of the apprenticeship’s mix of in-class learning and on-the-job application. “It’s important to practice and use the skills you learn in class on a regular basis, so they stick in your mind.”

Following her apprenticeship, Federica’s line manager expressed keen interesting in applying her new skills more widely at AXA, particularly in sentiment analysis. “I have analysed responses from a survey, and doing that one by one, manually, it’s very time consuming,” she explained. But she can now go through responses very quickly, thanks to her new skills with data software.

Suzie Worthington on becoming her team’s data expert

When Suzie was hired to work in AXA’s delivery office, one of the key reasons was her love of data. So, when her boss signed her up for Avado’s Data Analyst Apprenticeship, she was all in. ”“I wanted to know what else is out there and what you can do with it,” Suzie said of data. “When I saw everything that was encompassed in the [apprenticeship], it was fantastic and, it was so wonderfully structured.”

Prior to her apprenticeship, Suzie had already completed a variety of data reports. But, as she progressed through the Data Academy, she was able to look back at those reports and find a cleaner, better way to produce them. She’s since been able to redo the majority of the delivery office’s reports, and create a dashboard she was able to showcase to AXA’s CIO.

“From what my boss tells me, the CIO is still talking about it to this day,” she says. “So it’s been wonderful that it’s not only improved my knowledge and my confidence, but also showcased how much you really can get out of this apprenticeship.” Suzie loved her job before, but now that she’s been able to build her data skills, she’s become the go-to data person within her team.

Through the apprenticeship, Suzie did face two challenges: a team restructure meant extra work for her, and her learning development coach changed six months in. Although her coach gave her the support and space to step away from her apprenticeship, she was able to stay on track. And when her coach changed, the transition was smooth.

“It was seamless,” Suzie said of the change. “Whenever I needed anything, any support, everyone was so helpful. The handouts, the guides, the information, the onboarding that Avado does, it’s brilliant.”

Rob Fernyhough on overcoming preconceived notions about apprenticeships

When Rob began his new Security Assurance role at AXA, he recalled a time when the Apprenticeship Manager asked him if he ever considered an apprenticeship. “Of course not, I’m in my late 30s,” he said of his response.

“I was immediately disabused of the notion that apprenticeships were just for school leavers or younger people.”

So, when Rob was offered the opportunity to complete an apprenticeship within Avado’s Data Academy, he and his manager agreed that it would benefit both him and their wider team if he took the plunge.

Rob was excited to have access to and learn how to use new data tools, like Orange, R and SQL. “My team is regularly in receipt of and must manipulate large, sometimes complex, datasets,” he explained. “Thanks to the Data Academy, I can work with these much more easily now and produce far better and quicker outcomes for the team and our stakeholders.”

For Rob’s team and AXA as a whole, he believes the benefit lies in having people in the business who are evangelical about data, ready to share their technical skills and their analytical approach with colleagues. “The more this happens, the more that colleagues are not spending their time slogging through manual tasks,” he explained. This frees up time for them to develop personally and provide better outcomes for customers.

The work Rob did through his apprenticeship has already had a positive impact. “My manager has praised me for driving improvements in our governance and assurance model by utilising what I have learned,” he said. Just this week, he received praise for the succinct and visual nature of a piece of work he presented to senior Information Security stakeholders.

All told, Rob found both the apprenticeship learning environment and the support he was offered excellent. “My Learning Development Coach and I worked really well together,” he added. “I couldn’t have completed the apprenticeship without her, and I shall miss our monthly catch-ups and our discussions about our cats.”

From Carlo Nebuloni, Chief Data Officer at AXA UK and Ireland

“Our Data Academy has been a great success with more than 60 apprentices going through it. I am really delighted to see the contribution that this is driving in everyday business activities. Federica, Suzie and Rob’s experience is a clear example of making the difference for AXA and our customers.”

About Avado

At Avado, we believe that true transformation isn’t digital, it’s human. We build professional future skills to help diverse talent access and accelerate careers through award-winning learning experiences that deliver tangible and measurable impact. We upskill people, uplift culture and future-proof organisations in a fast-moving world.

Avado is proud to be a people-transformation partner to some of the largest and most innovative organisations in the UK including: Google, BT, NHS, British Airways, UK Civil Service, Legal & General and AstraZeneca.

To find out more, visit www.avadolearning.com

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Tara MacInnis

Posted February 7, 2022