This week is National Apprenticeship Week, and as part of it, we’re celebrating some of our own apprenticeship success stories. We sat down with some of our valued colleagues who have been through the apprenticeship process, to gain their thoughts, insight, and any advice they have for others who may be considering apprenticeships.

Maclain Simpson

Maclain joined our finance team as an apprentice at age 18 and completed his Level 2 in Finance in September 2023. Now a full-time Finance Assistant, Maclain reflects on his apprenticeship journey and shares his experience, achievements, and ambitions for the future:

Hi Maclain! What made you want to start down the apprenticeship route?

In 2021, I enrolled into university. The more thought I gave to it though, the more I came to realise that university wasn’t the right fit for me. I decided I wanted something different to classroom-based learning, and I began to explore other options. With apprenticeships, I saw that I could gain all the skills and knowledge I needed to develop myself, while earning money and gaining experience from a real, supportive company.

What drew you to Finance and Accounting?

I’ve always been very good at maths and data analysis. I wanted to play to my strengths and start my career strong, in a sector where I knew I could succeed and go far.

How did you start your apprenticeship with SBFM?

I found out about SBFM’s apprenticeship offering through a friend who worked in the finance department. I looked into SBFM and I knew that through them, I could gain all the skills and knowledge I needed, while experiencing a real working environment. It sounded like the perfect fit!

How did you find starting with SBFM as an apprentice?

Very easy. From day one, I could see how excited and passionate SBFM were about my development. They made me feel right at home and I settled in very quickly. All my colleagues were so friendly and encouraging, and I knew that I could always ask questions if I needed to. I also had the support of SBFM’s learning team, who were always on hand to provide advice and guidance. They even created a dedicated progression plan from me, so that I could see exactly where my learning and ambition could take me.  

What did you learn during your time as an apprentice?

I learnt about all elements of finance, accounting, and bookkeeping. By the end of my apprenticeship, I had a great foundation of knowledge that I could build upon. I received first-hand experience of working in a real, functioning finance department. This exposure made applying what I was learning so much easier and clearer, because I could see where all the pieces fit, and why the team do what they do.

What is your current role at SBFM?

I’m now a full-time Finance Assistant. My responsibilities include looking after the purchase ledger; making sure that suppliers are paid, that invoices are recorded correctly, that all bank reconciliations are completed, and that all expenses are processed. I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to get involved in some crucial finance projects, including the refinement of a new expense process.

Are you currently studying for any other qualification?

I’m currently studying AAT Level 3 in Accountancy at Leeds City College, with one day each week dedicated to study time. SBFM has been so supportive during my pursuit of this qualification. I’ve been able to apply what I learnt from my Level 2 Apprenticeship, my experiences from SBFM, and I have the support of a friendly and encouraging team who really care about my development.

What are your ambitions for the future?

My ambition is to become a fully qualified Management Accountant. I want to be managing key finance initiatives, implementing process improvements, and streamlining procedures. Having seen the benefit of talent development myself, I would love to be able to provide that for other people. To be able to support new team members with their own learning and development would be amazing.

How would you describe your apprenticeship experience with SBFM?

I feel like SBFM has been the perfect company to complete my apprenticeship with. Their energy and focus on internal staff development has really helped to push me forward and keep improving my skills and knowledge. My confidence has been boosted massively and everyone has been so supportive and friendly through every step. I’ve learnt so much and I’m really looking forward to the next steps of my journey with SBFM.

What advice would you give to people considering their career options, especially people considering apprenticeships?

I don’t think people give enough consideration to apprenticeships. Once you really explore the opportunities they offer, apprenticeships are an amazing alternative to university. You can learn as you earn, you get that direct hands-on experience, and you’re supported by a business that wants to see you evolve and progress. My advice would be to really give serious consideration to apprenticeships and fully explore their possibilities. They can make a huge impact on your learning, and your career!


Thank you, Maclain!