I thoroughly enjoyed my thoroughly, even during the occasional long week, or month, I felt motivated and found myself enjoying the role. The main drivers of this were my manager, the people around me and my role and its ever-evolving nature. I knew going in it would be challenging, especially as I came in as a placement student taking over for a full-time role but I was able to develop technical financial skills and my use of various tools and software.
Valued as any member of the team, I was told on a number of occasions in various corporate lunches/events and some of which I organized that my proficiency in my work is surprising and they sometimes forget I am only a placement student. Furthermore, as I have worked with the management team and supported in various analyses and met new reporting requirements well they often approach with queries/requests for support which indicated to me their trust in my ability.
My direct report was one of the general managers of Sony Global Finance Accounting, so he was himself extremely busy, however, for the first two months he consistently offered and delivered on his offer when I needed advice, direction, and support but after this period my manager was quite hands-off. He trusted my ability and also that I would ask if I needed help. He was co-sited in the UK and Switzerland spending around 40% of the time in the UK so our communications were usually electronic. I relied on the support from a number of junior and senior colleagues who never failed to support in some way.
Having taken over for a full-time role rather than a tailored placement role I was thrown into the deep-end. The role was very intense in the first few months as I learned the processes whilst having to do them, furthermore, a very large project started at the start of my third month which lasted six months in total and the budget planning which was almost entirely my responsibility started a few months after starting the project so I had a lot of strict, parallel deadlines and found myself in the office until very late and sometimes very early when working with colleagues in Asia on the project.
My responsibility was the equivalent of a full-time employee. A major responsibility was for the analysis, reporting and planning activities for my organisation including cost, headcount, key performance indicator & service level agreement results and then holding management and their teams accountable for their performance.
Truly skills for life. My degree and aim for my future career are not closely matched so going in I did not expect I would develop my actuarial skills in any significant way. During the course of the placement, I was balancing a great deal of responsibility, as a result, my organisation and planning were developed significantly. I was required to use and improve my knowledge of Excel and VBA for analysis, reporting and the creation of some automated reports. Finally, my financial analysis and reporting were probably my most improved skills
For the majority of the time there is a low level of noise, be it colleagues are working collaboratively, catching up or most likely on calls with colleagues in our affiliates in the UK and abroad. Everyone is quite driven and focusing, intensely, on the work at hand, however, the open plan layout of the office allows for easy communication with colleagues. At the start of the month there is usually a good vibe as the company had met sales expectations and although for some of us our work is indirectly supporting sales, it was motivating nonetheless.
Being allocated to my position was a bit of a rush job, as my predecessor handed in their notice for further study only shortly before I was selected. The handover period took around one month and after this, I was left to continue the role, the handover was very efficient and effective and I am extremely grateful for the knowledge transfer I received from my predecessor. However, getting my role in the first place was a little uncertain as interest was expressed but it seemed a role was not available for me, I am grateful to my contact in the talent resourcing something for their persistence and eventually finding a role for me and keeping me informed.
The majority of the training and development I received from the resources which had already been produced, and this was sufficient for all of the tools I needed on a daily basis. I on a few occasions wished to understand the structure of the system, the ways of working etc. from my colleagues so I every month or so reached out to who I best thought could help and they made a few hours over a few weeks and even provided materials for me to hold onto after the sessions.
The prospect of a future career at Sony is extremely appealing, however, through my own observations and conversations with my manager and other colleagues, I do not see the scope for an actuary to work in the company and add value for themselves or the company in a full time role. As my degree and future career aim is to become an actuary it is unlikely I will pursue during my final year of university.
There was a great social scene among the 18 placement students at my office. In the first few months, we all grabbed lunch and then went to the fun room to play pool, foosball or even board games. After those first few months, however, I became quite busy and also started regularly attending the on-site gym, as a result, other than seeing them in the morning or evening the only time I would socialise was for the occasional coffee break or in the gym.
Cost of living was quite high, I was staining in Woking in a studio so I was likely paying more than some of the students who had rented flats together. I commuted which was also quite expensive compared to Leicester.
My nightlife was limited to the cinema, laser tag, and bowling which some of my peers organised. I do not drink or go clubbing so I cannot really comment on the nightlife. I lived in Woking which homes the oldest purpose-built mosque in Britain and is a must see when traveling through.
I joined a badminton league with some of the guys from the sales team, with whom I connected in the gym. There is quite a lot do such as summer runs/cycling and a very popular feature was a year-long competition to run and to cycle the most in a team of six with donations going to charities of the winners’ choice.