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Based in Edinburgh, Shannon Macnamara's “very proactive and positive” approach led to her working as a credit research assistant while completing a business management Graduate Apprenticeship with a global asset management company.

Shannon had planned to study psychology at university until she was offered a Modern Apprenticeship after a work experience placement with Standard Life Aberdeen.

“I enjoyed working in the Edinburgh office so much that when I was given the opportunity of a Modern Apprenticeship, I jumped at the chance to complete qualifications on the job.” explained Shannon.

She was based in the Fixed Income Investment team when she was offered a Graduate Apprenticeship.

Learning first-hand

Graduate Apprenticeships allow individuals the opportunity to work, get paid and get a degree – up to masters level.

The former Woodmill High School pupil had four-month placements in operations, compliance and finance before moving into the investments side of the business.

While on placement in the Fixed Income department, Shannon spent time shadowing portfolio managers and worked with the research team before being offered a role as a credit research assistant and her Graduate Apprenticeship.

Employer support

Shannon said: “The thing I enjoy most about my role is being challenged every day. Graduate Apprenticeships are great because you learn first-hand how a business operates and you can develop experience and skills from working with a wide variety of people which cannot be taught in a classroom.

“The Graduate Apprenticeship is a fantastic opportunity. It was a very difficult decision for me to join the company as an apprentice in 2016 as opposed to attending university, however, I think I now have the best of both worlds.

“A lot of people view going to university as the only option to be successful in this industry – that’s not the case. It is also becoming increasingly difficult for students to secure a role after graduating due to the competitive job market.”

Shannon was quick to credit the support of her employers, her line manager Nick Kordowski who is currently Head of Credit Research and her university workplace mentor Luke Hickmore, an Investment Director at Standard Life Aberdeen as she works towards her Business Management degree.

“The company really does support the apprenticeship programme. I’m coming to the end of my first year at Robert Gordon University and have been given lots of support from my colleagues,” said Shannon.

Workplace diversity important

Nick said: “Shannon is doing very well. She has a very proactive and very positive approach, with a can-do attitude and energy to support that. We’re always looking for new talent and when Shannon was in the team for her placement as a Modern Apprentice, she started on the front foot in terms of intellect and her willingness to do her own leg work.

“We’ve given her a lot of responsibility and she now owns a sector of the market, writes up her views and shares them with team. That all leads to her getting the recognition she deserves.”

Luke said the company was keen to attract people from different backgrounds.

He explained: “If you don’t have that, there’s a danger that you could have everyone thinking in the same direction, so we want to encourage people who have different approaches.”

Skills Development Scotland Relationship Accounts Executive June Gallagher said: “This is yet another example of how Standard Life Aberdeen is offering fantastic opportunities using the apprenticeship family which has provided Shannon with an alternative route to a degree.  Shannon has been able to progress in the business very quickly, becoming a productive member of the team while earning while she is learning.”

More information

To find out more about Graduate Apprenticeships or to take on a Graduate Apprentice, visit

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