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Anna Sheard

University of Sheffield

MPhys
anna sheard headshot

The Company;

Skills Learned;

map showing the location of manchester

The Big Picture

Anna did a Year in Industry with technology company IBM in August 2019 as a Service Management Analyst working on a large contract for the DWP (Department of Work & Pensions).

“I managed the delivery of service requests between IBM and the DWP. This involved raising, logging, and managing change requests with IBM developers, and then communicating updates on their progress back to the client.

The Learning Curve

Anna was responsible for managing and delivering over 100 requests to the DWP.

“In this role, I have been able to introduce improvements to IBMs processes, some of which have been related to the current COVID-19 pandemic and discuss potential improvements to DWPs processes as well. I have also focused our meetings by introducing agendas and formal minutes.”

Anna’s Impact

Anna’s line manager at IBM said:

“Throughout Anna’s placement year she has consistently surprised us with her logical approach to day to day work. She has improved and economised our processes throughout the year, with several of the improvements she made impressing some of the seasoned veterans on our team. Her scientific approach will most definitely be an asset throughout her career and she is a great advert for employers looking to hire students from a scientific background.”

The Physics Connection

Whilst the role itself didn’t require any specific physics knowledge, it did require skills which Anna learnt throughout her degree, for example problem solving and experience of using Excel. This technical understanding made it easier for Anna to understand the developers updates and therefore inform the DWP of the progress being made. 

The Professional Skills Stuff

IBM are very keen for placement students to develop new skills during their placements. There were lots of opportunities for Anna to learn about different parts of the organisation and meet different people. These have included shadowing other IBM employees/teams, for example at the Research and Innovation Centres, or in computer security. Other opportunities have included organising staff events, and attending external events as a placements ambassador.

The Company

IBM provides a wide range of products and services from producing and selling computer hardware and software; to consulting services and researching new technologies,from mainframe computers to nanotechnology. Anna was based at the Preston office and enjoyed the friendly office environment with social events organised every month.

What about Nerves?

Anna was most scared of the communication side of things particularly over the phone and via emails, as well as her role leading meetings. She overcame this through lots of practise and seeking feedback from her manager and peers on ways to improve, and then acting on this feedback. 

“‘By the end of the placement I felt much more confident and comfortable communicating with colleagues, even those much more senior than myself.”

The Final Word…

“I absolutely loved working in the IBM offices. Even though I had to work from home due to COVID-19, people in my office still sent me messages – checking on how it was going. It has been a really supportive place to work.”

… And the Next Step

Anna is in the process of applying to IBM for a graduate role as a Technical Consultant. Having really enjoyed her placement she would love to return to IBM when her degree is finished.