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Whistle-stop Wednesdays: Internal Career Progression

Donna Macdonald is our newly appointed Graduate and TAP (Talent Agility Programme) Programme Executive. Read her career story below! 

What do you currently do in Admiral and how long have you been working here? 

I currently work on the Graduate and TAP Programme in People Services. I have worked in Admiral for 20 years but been in my current role for 5 months.  

How did you get into your role?  

Like many people, I joined Admiral as a stop gap. As a young, single mum, I needed a steady income to provide for my son. My mum, who was already working here, recommended I apply. I didn’t expect to set down roots in the company…but nearly two decades later I’m still here and can’t imagine working anywhere else. 

In 2001 I started in the contact centre, firstly in Outbound, then moved to New Business in 2002. In the early years, juggling working and parenting was a challenge. It wasn’t until my son was older that I started to think about my own career, and I became a Senior Agent in 2017. After 19 years in New Business, I was settled, confident that I was doing a good job, and never thought I could do anything else. I applied for Team Manager roles but when I was unsuccessful, I decided it might be time to try something new. Then one day last year, I was going for lunch with a friend and picked her up from her desk; on her screen was the advert for the Talent Agility Programme so we ended up chatting about it over lunch. I applied, and to my amazement, was offered a role!  

I joined the first ever TAP scheme in September 2020. This is our new initiative of looking for talented people around the business and placing them in different roles over the space of a year. At the end of the placement, the aim is that they’ll be offered a permanent role. I completed two placements on TAP, first on Programme NEO in Claims and secondly in the Diversity and Inclusion team in People Services. Halfway through my second placement I was offered the role I am in now as the two areas worked closely together. My journey has been long, but it was worth all the hard work as I’m now in a role where I feel I add so much value, and although it’s challenging, every day is different and I’m energised by the opportunity to develop skills I didn’t even realise that I had. 

What does your department do for the company overall?  

Our team is responsible for the colleague lifecycle of anybody who joins us on either of our development programmes (graduate programmes and the internal Talent Agility Programme). We look after these people from when they’re recruited, right up until they’re upskilled into permanent roles. We onboard colleagues, ensuring they’re integrated into our business and culture with all the tools they need to succeed. We’re there to listen to those on our programmes and their managers to continuously implement improvement and new ideas to make sure that what we do is the best for our people and helps keep them motivated and engaged. We also support our people with any challenges they might face when transitioning between roles and provide mentorship and advice. We ensure that our programmes are relevant, up-to-date, and align with our business needs – this means maintaining regular communication with managers, pinning what we do to our wider company strategy and keeping in line with competitors. To do this it’s essential we maintain strong relationships throughout the business, with universities, and other areas of People Services such as Learning and Development and Recruitment.  

This activity is what we do to keep the programmes running smoothly, but beyond this we’re often exploring new ways to help our people, customers, business and community. In 2021 we were part of the Welsh Government-funded launch of the Welsh Data/AI Fast-Track post-graduate programme, which is designed to upskill people and industries in South Wales with these skills which are growing in demand. We also launched Admiral Aspire, a summer internship designed to widen access to under-represented groups – there were two main streams, one targeted at students who identify as BAME and another for women in tech.  

What do you think makes Admiral a great place to work? How would you describe the culture here?  

The main things are the culture, people and opportunities. There are a huge number of career opportunities across the business, and it’s a great feeling knowing that so much support and guidance is available for people, like me, who were looking to change direction. I’ve grown up with Admiral, making friends for life along the way, and I’m extremely proud to say I work here. It’s incredible to see how far the business has come and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.  

Do you have a career-defining moment? 

Joining the TAP scheme has changed my life, it's unleashed a whole new person in me I never knew existed. The support I’ve received has been incredible and I’ve had so many opportunities given to me over the past 12 months. Instead of worrying about what the future holds, I now have a whole new mindset, clear career goals, and an eagerness to achieve them.

Take a look at the other ways we support career growth and development here.

Read about Whistle-stop Wednesdays: The fast-paced life of an IT Project Manager Lead


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