Fiona Lennox, Operations Manager at Fujitsu, helps manage the apprenticeship programme in Northern Ireland. With over 25 years of experience working with the leading digital transformation company, Fiona and her team play an integral part in helping develop the next generation of digital and technology leaders.
Following National Apprenticeship Week, we caught up with Fiona to find out more about her career and what makes the technology sector an attractive industry to work in.
What brought you to Fujitsu?
I studied computer science at Queen’s University in 1998 and similar to now, the Northern Ireland IT market was buoyant – I even had a job offer from Fujitsu before I graduated! I was excited to join a global company and over the past 25 years I’ve grown and developed at the company. I’ve held a range of positions from a software developer and team leader to team manager and now operations manager.
What does your role entail?
In my current role as head of NI operations I have responsibility for 130 people across our infrastructure and networks teams in Northern Ireland and Birmingham. I have brilliant managers in my team who look after the day-to-day running of our services. This allows me to focus on service improvement initiatives and new business opportunities. I also work closely with our recruitment team to attract candidates as part of our growth strategy.
What do you enjoy about your role?
I enjoy how my role is challenging and brings new opportunities daily. I believe everyone can provide a valuable contribution and I encourage all views to be expressed. My current role allows me to give people opportunities to excel and develop their skills and talents. It’s incredibly rewarding to see the personal and professional growth this approach brings.
How does Fujitsu bring new talent into the company?
Fujitsu has partnered very closely with Belfast Met, Queen’s University and North West Regional College for many years.
We provide apprenticeship opportunities in the infrastructure & networks and application development courses each year. I am also a member of the ICT Sectoral Partnership – a board of representatives from colleges and local employers that enable joint working. We ensure that students are taught the relevant skills to meet todays and tomorrow’s IT needs.
How do apprenticeship schemes work?
Fujitsu offers higher level apprenticeships funded by the Department for the Economy (DfE). These programmes provide qualifications up to degree level, with two A Levels or equivalent entry requirements. We welcome individuals who are interested in a career in IT and want to learn and grow.
What training support do they get?
After a six-week introduction, apprentices spend four days a week in the workplace and one day a week training on campus. Their managers have regular check-ins with their course tutor to provide the best support and guidance.
We also provide apprentices with technical mentors and management support. Our Fujitsu Junior Talent Programme for apprentices and graduates also gives those starting their career with us a sense of community and encourages learning and development.
What are the advantages of recruiting apprentices?
Apprentices gain recognised qualifications over the four-year programme whilst earning a salary and not incurring debt normally associated with a full-time university degree. Our teams benefit from the fresh ideas and enthusiasm that the apprentices bring.
What qualities are you looking for to find the latest emerging talent?
Having the ability to learn new skills is invaluable. Our recent apprentices have shown a real can-do attitude in learning and taking on responsibilities to benefit the delivery team.
Good communication is a skill that is essential in any role so it’s something I look out for.
What opportunities are there for apprentices after they finish their programme?
Most Fujitsu apprentices stay with the company when their course is finished. We invest time in training and we are keen to secure people interested in career progression.
Fujitsu offers a wide variety of roles and we encourage movement between professional communities. We have lots of new business and our teams are growing. I am keen to encourage short-term secondments to other business areas to increase individuals’ overall business experience.
What advice would you give someone unsure of their next step in training and development?
Apprenticeships provide an excellent foundation to start a new career across various industries. It can be quite daunting to consider something new or different, Fujitsu offers a friendly environment to learn and you will be surrounded by people who want you to succeed. Don’t be afraid of change!
Fujitsu has multiple vacancies in Northern Ireland ranging from experienced technical to entry-level roles for its 24×7 Operations Centre. Send your CV to Fiona Lennox at firstname.lastname@example.org to apply. #EmpoweringEducationalExcellence