An apprentice's perspective: Bronwen Ollerhead
Dive In 2018 - The festival for diversity and inclusion in insurance.
As proud global partners of this year’s Dive In Festival, and in support of the annual theme of #time4inclusion, we canvassed the views of some of our legal apprentices on life at Kennedys, their careers, and what diversity and inclusion means to them.
Our award-winning UK apprenticeship programme, launched in 2012, sees Kennedys actively recruit from schools and colleges and welcome people to the firm from the age of 18, is something that, according to Partner and Board member Suzanne Liversidge, “allows us to reach people from a much wider range of backgrounds who more accurately represent the diversity of those we serve”.
In the latest instalment of our Legal Apprentice interviews we spoke to Bronwen Ollerhead, one of our Sheffield-based apprentices.
“I found it challenging to come straight from school to an office environment. I had to adapt to a new situation and completely new subject area whilst making a good impression on my new co-workers,” says Bronwen, remembering the transition of embarking on a legal career with Kennedys following school education. “I now feel more comfortable in new situations and around new people as my confidence has grown. In addition to this, I have had to learn to manage myself in order to balance work commitments, study time and my home life. I initially felt overwhelmed but, with the good support system around me, I was able to implement plans and trackers to ensure that I am working efficiently towards my goal.”
Bronwen, who is part of Kennedys’ September 2016 cohort, works within the firm’s Liability Division in a team that deals with claims stemming from personal injury, abuse and holiday sickness – to name but a few. Working so closely with skilled and experienced lawyers is something that Bronwen believes has accelerated her career.
She says: “Being able to undertake my training around such highly skilled people is one of the best parts of the apprenticeship. This is invaluable experience and something that cannot be replicated outside an apprenticeship. In addition to this, I have mentors who inspire me to work hard to progress my career. I now have a great work ethic and always strive to do my best, something I may not have in an environment where I do not feel supported and valued."
By working with high level lawyers I am able to learn from them and then apply their methods in my own work.
Bronwen Ollerhead, Solicitor Apprentice
Whilst it has only been two years since beginning her legal apprenticeship, Bronwen has already experienced a variety of work which has promoted a real sense of belonging at Kennedys.
“The ever-changing nature of the insurance sector means I have encountered a variety of types of claims since starting my apprenticeship two years ago. I have worked on abuse claims, personal injury claims and holiday sickness claims. This challenges my intellect and encourages my development as a young lawyer.
“Further to this, since the beginning of my apprenticeship I have been entrusted with responsibilities on other people’s files. This has made me feel valued, as I know that a file would not progress without my assistance. Whilst being given responsibilities, I have also received excellent one-on-one supervision from a variety of people - something you would not receive at university”
During the last 12 months of Bronwen’s time at Kennedys, the firm has been awarded the ‘Top Employer - Law’ award at the AllAboutSchoolLeavers Awards in both 2017 and 2018 as a result of its legal apprenticeship offering. Bronwen feels that one of the major strengths of Kennedys is its inclusive nature.
“My team is made up of people of all ages, gender and qualifications but we operate seamlessly by recognising each other’s strengths and being respectful.”
This year marks the start of a two-year campaign, Awareness into Action. After three years of raising awareness of the business case for diversity and inclusion, the global movement now looks to harness the energy of previous years to encourage action throughout the sector.