Raheeq Ahmad is the Leadership Through Sport & Business (LTSB) East London Apprentice of the Year. After completing a 16 month programme that included coaching at West Ham United, he secured a role at Grant Thornton in accountancy.
How did you find out about the LTSB programme?
I was in my last year of college when I found out about LTSB through a few friends who had finished the programme. Initially I was going to go to university but I always had apprenticeships in the back of my mind as an alternative. One month before university started, I weighed both options and in my opinion apprenticeships just had more benefits as I would be rewarded with a salary, experience and I would avoid student debt.
At first, I thought about applying directly to firms who offer apprenticeships/school leaver programmes. However, when I researched LTSB, I found that they would give me access corporate training, networking events, interviews with blue chip companies and develop my skills.
I felt that this programme was promising and would definitely provide me with more benefits than going to university. I have had a rewarding career so far and have won apprentice of the year which meant that my hard work has paid off so far. I haven’t had any regrets since!
What did you do during the programme and where did you work?
The LTSB programme at the time had a duration of 16 months. My first four months (September-December) consisted of studying at college for my AAT Level 2 accounting qualification and working at West Ham United FC as a football coach, attending networking events with business professionals and interview training.
After I had attended a few speed interviews with different companies, I was invited to the assessment centre of Grant Thornton, where I was successful. I have now been working at Grant Thornton as an audit associate in the Financial Services department for 18 months. During that time, I have passed my AAT Level 3 accounting and am now studying my AAT Level 4.
How did you find the transition into work from education?
Work was a different environment from school and college as it meant that I had to adapt to being independent and responsible – I am now a professional and have to take responsibility to progress my career.
With school and college, everyone is often pushed to study and to pass exams and is given a helping hand. However, with work, it is your own responsibility to improve and challenge yourself. It feels good to know that I can challenge myself to become a better version of myself each and every day.
What was the experience at West Ham United like?
I worked as an assistant football coach to young children, achieving my FA Level 1 qualification. Although football coaching was very different to accounting, it provided me with leadership and coaching skills which are essential in a working environment. The experience also provided me with an opportunity to network with business individuals.
One of the things I enjoyed most from the experience was the opportunity to meet Karren Brady (vice chairman of West Ham United) and some of the royal family at an event which West Ham had invited me to. It was great sharing my experience with business professionals and talking to them about apprenticeships and the benefits it provides to young people and the impact it has on social mobility.
What have you learned from your time as an apprentice?
I have learned the value of hard work and that if I challenge myself, the sky is the limit. I have also learned that university isn’t the only way to get access to a rewarding career and that the more people I network with, the better opportunities I’ll have.
I have learned that university isn’t the only way to get access to a rewarding career”
What advice would you give to someone considering applying to LTSB?
Grab the opportunity with both hands and try to get as much out of it as possible. The programme is there to help you, so ask as many questions as you like, network with people and enjoy the experience. You will only get what you put in, so put as much effort and work in as you possibly can!
What do you hope to do in the future?
I hope to qualify within the next three years as an ICAEW ACA chartered accountant within the Financial Services Audit department. My long term plans would be to gain as much experience and knowledge as possible in the financial services industry and use it as a foundation to hopefully start up my own business one day.