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I work in the Customer Success Unit, where we support our customers to help them better harness and deliver a successful digital transformation. We also want to futureproof our co-workers and employees. With this in mind, we built our early in career programme with apprentices. I started my career as an apprentice so I know the value of having a structured programme. By developing and nurturing talent, it will reap rewards for the employer, the apprentice, and the manager.

Watching young talented people develop is the greatest part about my role here in Microsoft. To see these fearless people challenge and push even the most experienced employee is fantastic. They also bring a different sort of energy, perspective, and positive way of thinking – very much a “why can’t we?” or “how do we?” mindset.

A great start to your career

The apprenticeship programme is very personal to me, having started my career as an IT apprentice 22 years ago. Therefore, being able to fully give back to the programme that made me who I am today is important.

I became an apprentice as I felt like I didn’t really have much direction. I had dropped out of college and I didn’t really know where I was going or what I was doing. My apprenticeship was at BAE Systems/Airbus UK through CSC, where I was lucky enough to learn from some of the best engineers I’ve ever worked with.

As an apprentice, I got the focus I needed and had several amazing mentors – who I’m still friends with now. It set me up for life. It provided me with focus, purpose, direction and showed me where I needed to develop and learn new skills.

Having the support of such a programme allowed me to develop very quickly. I also learned that money isn’t the right area to focus on, but development is. The money will come as you gain skills, experience and rise up in your career. Now, at Microsoft, I get the great pleasure of managing and coaching a great team. The bit I love the most about being an apprentice manager is helping them develop their skills, learn their craft, and kick-start their career. I can tell you that someday I’ll end up working for our two current apprentices!

The future lies in young talent

Although the concept of customer success has been around in our industry for several years, the role of a Customer Success Manager in the modern workplace is still relatively new to Microsoft. Not only are we building a new team, but we are building a new industry role through our hybrid cloud approach, driving adoption and change management through the use of a customer success framework with technology that operates in the cloud and on premise.

We’ve built our team with strong and talented people who can help us take on this new challenge. Knowing that the future lies with young talent, having a plan for how we could hire early in career talent into the team has been a top priority for us from the start. Once our apprentices have completed the programme, they will come out with the experience, knowledge, and qualifications to drive the right behaviours in customer success, which will not only benefit Microsoft, but the wider industry too.

If you’ve not yet thought about hiring an apprentice into your business, then with this week being National Apprenticeship Week, now is a great time to find out more and invest in developing the skills that your business will need to succeed in the future of work.

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About the author

Matt Kitson

Matt started off as an IT apprentice at BAE Systems/Airbus UK through CSC. He quickly rose through the ranks working at other IT companies such as Capgemini, Capita, Logica, and CGI. At Microsoft, he is a CSM Manager in the Customer Success Unit, leading a team of Customer Success Managers who use business experience to influence technology solutions and new ways of working in the modern workplace.