EMPLOYER: Smurfit Kappa
COURSE: Sales & Telesales Apprenticeship
Intermediate Apprentice of the Year at the SCR Apprenticeship Awards 2021
Grace won the Intermediate Apprentice of the Year award for her outstanding performance at Smurfit Kappa in Duckmanton, Chesterfield.
Grace joined the international manufacturer of paper-based packaging solutions in September 2019 aged 18 after gaining A levels and a BTech.
She was set on as a Level 3 Sales & Marketing Apprentice, a challenging qualification for a learner with no previous sales experience. Most sales apprentices at Smurfit Kappa join on a lower level 2.
Initially, she had a great deal to learn about the company’s wide range of packaging solutions and its customers across many sectors, plus how each department worked.
In her sales training, she began supporting a Key Account Manager on two of the company’s Top 5 Accounts. Grace exceeded all expectations, going on to work with other senior sales staff on new business and customer presentations.
Grace remained in work during the pandemic and demonstrated outstanding commitment across many areas of the business, also taking the lead on important projects.
“I had to adjust to working from home, sharing space with five others,” she says. “The frequent communication I had with the team and having targets and objectives really helped my progression and morale.”
With visits to suppliers and customers taking place online, she used the time saved from travel to finish her apprenticeship qualification six months early.
Grace also studied with the packaging industry body, the European Flexo Industry Association, completing six modules and won EFIA Student of the Year for 2020.
During the pandemic she was nominated by the UK Marketing Manager to act as Communication Officer - usually, a role performed at the director level. She embraced this responsibility and now takes a leading role in the company’s internal newsletter.
She also worked with the UK Marketing team to develop the company website.
“This work led to my first self-generated new business account which I now manage, something I’m really proud of,” says Grace, who has also taken responsibility for researching and administering two marketing campaigns and assisted in the development of sales & marketing strategies.
Grace is now Assistant Account Manager for two of the company’s Top 5 accounts and aims to become a Lead Account Manager. Her career progression at Smurfit Kappa could now include a marketing qualification, or a higher-level sales qualification leading to team leading and management responsibilities.
Grace’s line manager and mentor, Adam Brown, Sales Director at Smurfit Kappa said: “Grace made a positive and immediate impact. She is very professional and has approached training, studies and work practices with boundless enthusiasm and flexibility. She has proved that she has the ability to communicate at all levels and has already become a valued member of the Sales Team.
“Our General Manager and all my fellow directors are of the opinion we have an exceptional individual. She consistently demonstrates the creativity, drive and determination to succeed in her role and future career.”