Brooke Heywood is a PR executive in the global corporate affairs team after finishing her apprenticeship in PR and communications with Sage
Why did you choose an apprenticeship/grad scheme?
Everyone thought that university was the obvious route for me to follow as I walked away from my final year at school with a decent set of A-level results. But I just knew that I wanted a different challenge, one that didn’t come in the form of a textbook or end of term exam. So, after applying to university and receiving 4/5 offers, with an unconditional offer from Nottingham, I willingly declined them all. To this day, I stand by the notion that if you don’t NEED a degree for your chosen career path then an apprenticeship is an awesome alternative—allowing you to get hands-on experience, your first taste of a salary and a qualification.
How did you find the assessment centre and what advice would you give for anybody who is going to attend?
Interviews and assessment centres can be daunting, but they’re also an amazing opportunity to gain experience and showcase your passion and hidden talents that a CV just cannot do justice. Having now sat on both sides of the table (as the interviewee and interviewer), the best advice I can give is to be authentically yourself whilst respecting others. Be proud of the skills and characteristics you have to offer, but listen to other candidates’ contributions and feedback to show that you are a real team player. At the end of the day, no-one wants to work with someone that is only focused on their own personal achievements—at Sage we succeed together!
Tell us about your role at Sage. Is it the same role you started in?
I am currently a PR executive in the global corporate affairs team, the natural evolution within the team after finishing my apprenticeship in August 2019. Reporting to the director of product communications, my role spans a wide part of the organisation, working closely with the segment and product teams to tell their stories to our internal and external stakeholders. I love the variety that my job offers, from leading a global thought leadership programme and executive social media accounts, to producing live events and more.
What do you enjoy most about working at Sage?
I can narrow it down to three key things; the opportunity to learn, the people, and our culture. I am very honoured to work with a team of inspiring female leaders, who I know champion my personal development and present me with opportunities to push myself and become a better communicator. Not only have I seen this selfless attribute from my team but also wider leadership across Sage–at 19 years old, I was invited by our CEO and CPO to join our inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Council. This underpins the value that our colleagues see in apprentices—they want to hear from us, learn from us and do the right thing.
What new skills have you learnt at Sage?
When I joined Sage it was my first real job so I could talk to you all day about what I have learnt, but here are some of the important lessons:
Don’t be afraid to use your voice: If you have an idea, want to contribute to a conversation or notice something that could be improved–tell someone. At Sage we welcome new perspectives, they help us innovate and grow.
Ask questions, you’re not expected to know everything: It’s okay to ask questions, it shows that you have an interest and want to learn.
Build a network: One of the most useful tools at Sage is the breadth and depth of our people—speak to people from around the business and build a network that you can rely on. The apprentice community is invaluable.
Would you recommend Sage to friends and family, and if so why?
I do… all the time! I probably annoy friends and family with how much I love my job because I know not everyone is as lucky. I’m excited and passionate about my role and the difference we make, as communicators, to our colleagues, customers and partners.