Before we meet Jacqueline properly, a word from our Chief Marketing officer and culture lead, Melissa Beckett
‘’Part of Kani’s mission has always been to build a diverse and inclusive team, from the ground up. We want to break barriers and lead the way on this within the Fintech industry. We strongly believe that we have a responsibility to champion and support skills-based training right across our region and beyond, and to provide development opportunities to as many people as we can. Apprenticeships are just one area we’re focusing on to achieve this.
Whilst talking to other companies in our space we’ve found that the perception of the apprenticeship process is a bit outdated. First of all, age is irrelevant – people of all ages and experiences can apply to become an apprentice, which is great if someone is looking for a career change or wants to develop new skills. As an employer, you have the option to hire someone with a wealth of transferable skills and previous working experience, if that’s what your company needs – we’ve learnt this first-hand through our apprenticeship programme and through working with Baltic Apprenticeships, here in the North East. It’s about the person, the value and experience you can provide to their apprenticeship journey, their want to learn whilst earning, and the skills you need in your company”.
So, Jacqueline, tell us a bit about you and how you came to work for Kani Payments?
I have always been interested in working with numbers. Math has a purity about it. It is logical and does not, in and of itself, lie. It is up to the person wielding them to faithfully represent the information it provides.
In 2009 I came back to the UK as a young single parent with a 1 ½ year-old daughter. I didn’t have much in the way of possessions or qualifications. I was determined to provide for my daughter and be a good role model.
The local college was offering some courses, and since I only had a basic education in Germany, I took advantage of what was available. Apart from the basic Math and English courses, they also offered a course in Bookkeeping, which led on to me doing an AAT qualification and an undergraduate in accounting.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a job in accountancy, but I did end up working for a great company. I got to work with some amazing people and ending up getting some experience working with data. I fell in love. Unfortunately, creating visualisations was not part of my main role, so when my position came to an end last year, I decided to take the plunge and change career path.
Some people think it might be crazy to do a career change in the middle of a pandemic when everybody is locked at home, but I loved the idea of doing it and so I didn’t let anything get in my way. I came across Baltic apprenticeships on Eventbrite and attended one of their webinars about the power of data. After that I reached out to them and they found me my current position with Kani as a payments data apprentice.
Why did you decide on an apprenticeship over university or standard employment route? What are you hoping to gain from the apprenticeship?
I might already have a degree and I could have gone straight into a master’s degree, but if you want to do something well, I think it is important to start with the basics.
This level 3 Apprenticeship allows me to follow a structured curriculum which can provide a rounded knowledge that some roles may not offer. Also, since it is incorporated into work, the learning is less theoretical and more hands-on. Plus, it takes less time away from being a parent. An added bonus for my daughter (although she may beg to differ!).
Some people might not like to go down the route of an apprenticeship thinking that the pay isn’t worth it and a degree is more respected. I disagree. A degree is just an alternative. Both have their merits and drawbacks.
An apprenticeship has the benefit of gaining work experience and no student loans to pay off afterwards. If you’re really wanting to do something, the salary should matter less at the start than the joy the roll will bring you. To me it is also important to find the right people to work with.
Tell us a bit about your role, and what you do day-to-day at Kani
Most of my time at the moment is spent transforming the information in our databases into reports for our clients. I have been learning a lot about the payments industry and SQL. I also help to maintain the database and talk to clients.
Are you predominantly project-based and working alone, or are you exposed to the company and able to get involved with company-wide / customer work?
Working as part of a scaling start-up is exciting. You are engaged with more areas of the business and there is some fluidity in your role which adds experience and ensures there is never a dull day.
Right at the beginning I was introduced to the whole company and got to know the clients. Since we are working mostly from home we have daily discussions. It’s all very inclusive, regardless of amount of time within the company, the role you have, or level of experience. Everybody gets to have a say and everybody is valued.
As a payments data apprentice I work within the finance team within Kani that deals with reconciliations and reports. A couple of months ago we adopted some new software, and I have been working closely with my colleagues to implement it and I’ve been learning a lot. It’s been very exciting.
What does the future look like?
I have never liked this question. Nobody can predict the future. However, I do have goals. I love the idea of being able to tell stories with data and want to become a specialist in creating interactive visualisations. Part of that will hopefully still be here at Kani, but I would also like to contribute to society.
I often see articles where the data is made to fit a story, or not the whole story is shown. I want to be able to show the wider story through interactive visualisation in a way that engages the user and encourages people to question what they read, instead of taking it at face value.
What would your advice be to anyone else considering an apprenticeship, and to an employer thinking about providing apprenticeships?
I think this advice applies to both sides: Forget what you might think an apprentice should look like.
I am a single parent in my 30s with a bachelor’s degree in a different area. Apprentices can come in all shapes and forms and I believe variety can help bring new ideas into a company. Mature students and fresh school leavers both have different perspectives, experiences and benefits.
If you want to do an apprenticeship or hire an apprentice, reach out to an apprenticeship provider, and discuss your options. They can help answer any questions you might have.