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IPP apprentice thrives despite lockdown challenge

20 Jul, 2020 | published at 10:23 CET

It’s been business as usual for a former teenage ballet enthusiast whose has described her ‘lockdown apprenticeship’ as a great example of choreography at its finest.

Caitlyn Willis began an 18-month business induction course at the UK and Ireland headquarters of IPP in Meriden, becoming the first apprentice taken on by the leading European pooler of sustainable wooden pallets to the retail supply chain.

But the former dancer from nearby Coleshill, had to be quick on her feet when the coronavirus struck, and she found herself working and learning remotely from home.

Caitlyn’s taken it all in her stride, though, and says she’s relished the opportunity to show that she could still thrive in the job, despite the pandemic.

“My role at IPP is going really well despite lockdown, which has meant I’m working from home because of the social distancing rules.

“We were all issued with the correct equipment and set-up so that we could continue doing our jobs without any real issue – it’s all been very well choreographed,” she said.

 “It could have been a very difficult situation but it has been made very manageable by IPP.

 “What’s also helped is that, as a team, we have three calls a day, to catch up and check on everyone’s progress and workload.

“The calls are made on our laptops using the Microsoft Teams platform, which means we can all still communicate face to face and stay connected despite being isolated at home.

“The back-up team has been brilliant too. If we ever have a difficulty or fault with any equipment, we have the IT team on call to sort the problems out as soon as possible.”

Caitlyn’s 18-month business induction course has so far seen her develop commercial skills through on-the-job coaching with IPP, as well as undertaking a level 3 business administration apprenticeship at Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce Training (CWCCT).

She says she’s loving every minute and building her skills and knowledge all the time.

Caitlyn added: “My roles and responsibilities are growing every day - so is my knowledge of not only the pallet industry, but also customer service, business reports and the whole world of administration.

“My most enjoyable moments at IPP are definitely when I’m learning something new and I go on to manage the task alone after working towards it. That gives me a real sense of accomplishment.

“I am currently learning more about what we do for our customers, how we manage our customer queries, orders and data.”

Shelley Harris, commercial director for IPP, said: “It’s always a daunting time when you start your first job but Caitlyn has had to deal with the added complication of the nationwide lockdown.

“That’s not an ideal scenario for a new, young recruit but she has performed brilliantly and really risen to the challenge.

“Our company strapline is ‘powered by people’ and Caitlyn has certainly powered up and blossomed in theses unprecedented times.

“We’re delighted because we are fully invested in ‘growing our own’ talent. We’re so happy Caitlyn is taking full advantage of the opportunity we’ve given her.”