Queen for a day: O2's Courtney Lockyer on why the industry should invest in apprenticeships

If you were in charge, how would you do things differently? In a recent issue of The Drum, seven women told guest-editor Cindy Gallop how they would tackle the issues holding their industry back if they ruled the roost. Here, Courtney Lockyer, higher apprentice at O2, explains how she would encourage young girls to consider a career in the tech industry.

If I were running the show for a day, the first thing I’d do is put an apprentice on every single team across the whole of the business.

O2 is a fantastic place for apprentices to start their careers (and continue them – Derek McManus, the COO, started off 25 years ago as an apprentice), and invests a huge amount into recruiting us, training us, and making sure we get the opportunity to make our mark.

While I’d hate to blow my own trumpet, apprentices have a great reputation throughout the business, so much so that, by popular demand, lots of teams now include an apprentice. I’d want to take that one step further and extend this to all teams, so that every single department can benefit from their fresh perspectives, skills and energy.

This is already starting to happen, with retail stores opening up applications for their own 18-month retail-specific programme. The next thing I’d do would be to create an O2 Digital Playground.

This would be a physical space – maybe at the O2 or a retail store – giving a behind-the-scenes look at all the tech products currently in development at O2 that aren’t yet for sale, and what goes into making them.

As an apprentice, I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the products we work on – for example in the O2 Lab, which tests and creates prototypes before taking them to market – and the Digital Playground would be a great way of sharing this digital thinking and inspiration with the public.

It would also help get people more excited about what technology can do and what gadgets might be on the shelves in the next few years.

As a young woman just joining the digital sector, I have always been excited about tech, but I know that there are plenty of young girls choosing their GCSEs and A-levels who don’t consider tech as a realistic career option.

I know things are moving in the right direction – there were lots of other girls in my intake at O2 – but I’d use my position as the female CEO of a leading digital company to highlight all the opportunities available, inviting schoolgirls choosing their exam subjects and university courses to shadow me for the day and get a flavour of life as a CEO in a busy, digital workplace.

Finally – and perhaps most importantly – I’d abolish cake and introduce a juice and smoothie bar! We have amazing cakes and pastries at work, but it’s a complete diet destroyer. You don’t even want the cake and chocolate until it’s right in front of you and suddenly you’ve eaten five of them.

I’d probably make enemies of all my colleagues in the process – but hopefully they’d thank me in the long run.

This article was originally published in the 1 October edition of The Drum, edited by Cindy Gallop and focused on The New Creativity.

Take a look at why JWT's Kathy Ruiz thinks the creative process needs a makeover.

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