jessica melville

jessica melville
MEET Dom Ferrari

Actuarial Apprentice

Team Retirement team

Segment Human Capital Benefits

Location Reigate, United Kingdom

Experience level Apprentice

Why did you pursue an apprentice position with Willis Towers Watson?

I knew I wanted a job in the actuarial world, and this programme offered me a path to achieve this without going to university. From my first contact with the job listing, the company came across as professional. The fact that we advise a large number of the Finacial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 companies really impressed me, and this has been echoed in my experiences so far, as I have been involved with a large number of recognisable clients.
My apprenticeship is based in Reigate, which enables me to continue to live at home and still get work experience and education comparable to the university option.

What was your experience of the application process?

I found the process to be quite smooth with very few surprises. The assessment centre had a relaxed atmosphere, and I was given very constructive feedback following my interview.

And of the apprenticeship itself?

My first year as an apprentice has been all about developing a knowledge base for the work I do day-to-day. I’ve been given responsibility to complete regular tasks and take ownership for the quality of my work. As my apprenticeship progresses, I’ve been given the opportunity to help train new apprentices in some fundamentals of actuarial work, including the use of Excel, as well as provide peer support to three recent graduates. I’ve been able to help them learn how our team works and answer any questions they may have.

What training and development opportunities have you enjoyed while at Willis Towers Watson?

I’ve received great training provided by Willis Towers Watson that has helped me pass two professional exams that are essential to gaining an actuarial qualification.
I’ve also learned that teamwork is the most important part of working within an office — in order to deliver quality work for our clients and also enjoy ourselves in the process.

What can you say you learnt from your fellow apprentices and colleagues and vice versa?

I have learnt that beyond being good at the technical math work, the most important part of my work is the relationships I have built up with my colleagues. By having a tight group of friends, both apprentices and other colleagues, I have been able to enjoy my apprenticeship fully, as well as being encouraged by others to strive in my role.

Can you share a highlight of your apprenticeship experience with Willis Towers Watson?

I’ve appreciated the opportunity to help train new apprentices and go to local careers fairs to promote the Willis Towers Watson apprenticeship programme. I’ve enjoyed meeting college students to discuss their career goals and the possibility of the apprenticeship as an alternative to university.

How did you feel when you came 2nd in the level 4 category of the BPP Apprentice of the Year Awards 2020?

I felt very proud and extremely grateful to those who nominated me. It was actually quite a surprise because I did not know I had been nominated. I think it shows how committed Willis Towers Watson are to ensure their apprentices achieve greatness.

Were you able to experience Willis Towers Watson’s values and culture? If so, tell us about a moment where you were able to live by our values or when you saw a colleague do so?

Two of the values that have impacted me most are Teamwork and Client focus. Willis Towers Watson have fostered an environment where both values constantly feed into each other. I have been part of many teams including a team of apprentices and graduates to complete a high profile project which involved many complicated calculations. Had our team not put in the extra work together we could not have met our deadline, it was a very satisfying and rewarding feeling to collectively complete a difficult task. In terms of client focus, I have been part of a team who have successfully completed projects that generate £100,000s in revenues, and in some cases been able to project manage a team to reach some of these goals.

Willis Towers Watson has an unwavering commitment to inclusion and diversity (I&D). Where you able to participate in our different I&D colleague-led initiatives? If so, which one?

I have been given the opportunity on multiple occasions to help set-up and host a team quiz for over 50 colleagues during lockdown. To enter these quizzes colleagues had to donate to our charity partner, the Alzheimer’s Society, and a local charity, Stripey Stork. Overall, we raised around £5,000!  I am very proud to have done this as naturally colleagues were having a tough time due to COVID-19 and by hosting these events I was hopefully able to make a big impact to team moral.

You were part of the Actuarial programme for our Retirement team, is there a specific challenge to this area that you wish to share? How did the apprenticeship programme and your colleagues help you overcome this challenge?

I think that the biggest challenge was that for the first year, the work we were doing was the same difficulty of work as graduates coming out of university. The structure of the apprenticeship programme and our manager were clear in that we were not expected to be at the same level as the graduates, but gave us room to grow and perform at a level above what was expected. This freedom to excel was a perfect environment for myself and I feel that the apprenticeship fostered my growth very well.

What is the next step in your career? How did the apprenticeship programme help you make this decision?

During my apprenticeship, I have been able to go to multiple client meetings and also be the lead on a wide variety of projects. I have been able to use my skills in maths within my career to achieve great results for our clients and for the organisation. By achieving this during my apprenticeship, Willis Towers Watson have recognised this and allowed me to start studying for the actuary exams, with the view to becoming a qualified actuary.

Would you recommend someone to enrol in one of our apprenticeship programmes? Why?

I would say that my apprenticeship has allowed me to make a significant impact within my department within a very short space of time. Following the completion of my apprenticeship, I have been promoted to an actuarial consultant. I am now one year ahead in my career than I would have been if I had entered as a graduate from university, with the bonus of 2 years extra experience. This shows that the apprenticeship, if the person has the right level of commitment, can open the same doors as going to university, and Willis Towers Watson are keen to remove whatever barriers may face apprentices in their career

Based on your experience, what advice would you give someone considering an apprenticeship at Willis Towers Watson?

I would suggest to anyone applying to an apprenticeship at Willis Towers Watson to be proactive; research the company, it will impress the evaluators and make you stand out.