Masters students from the University of Chester are celebrating the start of new careers at a global energy company, after making positive impressions during their placements there.
Brendan Hennelly, 23, from Nottingham, Sam Swash, 24, from Hawarden, and Stephenie Walker, 22, from Ellesmere Port, joined Urenco UK in October 2015 on placements as part of their studies on the Chester Business Master’s (CBM) Programme.
This is a unique bespoke graduate employment scheme, which also leads to a business master’s qualification.
The course combines intensive business practice training with two internships, each consisting of a 20 week period of salaried work placements with leading regional companies, which more than covers the programme fees.
Brendan and Sam started their placements at Urenco UK as process improvement facilitators within the process improvement team, while Stephenie joined the Human Resources (HR) Department as a trainee HR administrator.
For their first placement, Brendan and Sam had the opportunity to work on a project centred around the Operations Support Department.
As part of the team, they mapped out business processes across the organisation and were able to identify those which could be streamlined and made more efficient.
As a result, they have facilitated a number of process improvements at the business.
Following completion of the programme, Sam is continuing his work on improving these processes at the company.
He said: “The most enjoyable aspect of working at Urenco UK is the development that the company has allowed and encouraged me to undertake, from the support it has offered with my Master’s programme, through to the personal development offered in my role.
“I saw the Chester Business Master’s programme as a unique opportunity to further both my academic and my work experience. I was a little apprehensive at first, given that I hadn’t studied business before – my undergraduate degree was in Politics - and I had only gained my own business skills independently. However, this apprehension didn’t last long at all. The lecturers on the programme, as well as my fellow students, were really welcoming and helped me acclimatise to academic business really quickly.”
While on placement at Urenco UK, an opportunity arose within the Electronic Document and Records Management Systems (EDRMS) Department at the company, for which, due to previous work experience in technology and business, Brendan was encouraged to apply.
To his delight, he was successful in his application and is now working as an EDRMS controller.
The role involves leading a team of EDRMS experts to be accountable for the administration of all EDRMS systems and content, including improvement activities and system development (such as workflows) which allow for business efficiency to be enhanced.
Brendan said: “I decided to study the Chester Business Master’s programme to help further both my professional experience and my academic knowledge beyond that of the undergraduate level. The course is unique from most master’s degrees, in that it enabled me to find an organisation to work for full-time while completing the degree, meaning that my fees were covered and I was gaining experience and accreditation at the same time.
“I have enjoyed the challenge of working within an organisation and then using this as the basis for my master’s content. It has allowed me to question my decisions at work, which I would not have ordinarily done, embedding in me a challenger mentality for decision - making while working. Furthermore, I have loved the opportunities that Urenco UK has provided me for experience. The organisation has constantly encouraged me to push myself beyond the level I have believed I was at in my career, allowing me to make decisions at a high-level and driving them.”
Stephenie is now working on an agency contract at Urenco UK as a result of her placement.
She says: “I am thoroughly enjoying my time at Urenco UK. Prior to my placement I had not had any direct exposure to HR or learning and development (L&D); therefore this placement presented an entirely new opportunity. I am now continuing to develop my skills in this area with the support of a fantastic team.”
Stephanie Hooker, 23, from Wallasey, and Rebecca Barnes, 25, from Teesside have secured permanent employment with Urenco UK after completing their CBM degrees in the past two years.
In addition, James Howorth, 24, from Hapton, Lancashire, and Matthew Findlay-Line, 25, from Rushden, Northamptonshire have secured agency contracts.