Case study - QBE, Employer Newcomer of the Year 2012
10 Dec 12

This year we were thrilled to welcome QBE Insurance into the City of London Business Traineeship Programme. The multinational firm is one of the biggest names in the London insurance industry and their legal departments took on two interns for the summer, for which they won Employer Newcomer of the Year at the City of London Business Traineeship 2012 Awards.

Esther Felton, QBE
Esther Felton accepts QBE's Employer Newcomer of the Year award from the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor David Wootton 

Ester Felton, General Counsel, and Sarah Coleman, Paralegal, worked closely with both Belinda and Rumel and were keen to tell us more about their experiences with the scheme.

The QBE legal team were starting to receive an increasing number of work experience requests from colleagues within the business for their children or their friend’s children. We provided work experience for several students in this way but, whilst still beneficial to them, we felt the experience would be more valuable to students who had no links to the City and would not otherwise be able to gain access to this type of environment. It was then that we began looking into local charities to see if we could help improve the career prospects of students living in the local area, eventually choosing the Brokerage Citylink and the CBT scheme.

After agreeing to take on two interns, the application process began. We were surprised at the standard of all the CVs we received. All the students had achieved excellent academic results and some already had work experience. After much deliberation, we eventually decided on four students to take through to the interview stage.

The students did not disappoint when we met them in person, they were all very friendly, with varying confidence levels. After the interviews we knew quite quickly which two students we preferred as their interests and personalities fitted neatly in line with those of our commercial and corporate legal teams respectively.

We put together a structured timetable for the six weeks our students were with us. The students spent one full week in different departments, including HR, Internal Audit and Company Secretarial. Both students were very enthusiastic and happy to get involved at every opportunity and we received glowing reports about them from their managers in the other departments.

The students helped our junior lawyers review basic legal contracts and carried out important pieces of research into changes in legislation and case law. They also had the opportunity to get involved with the legal aspects of our title sponsorship of the QBE Internationals rugby tournament.

Interns at QBE
QBE interns Belinda and Rumel at Plantation Place 

The two interns certainly found the experience hugely beneficial, enjoying the structure and variety of the rotational programme QBE devised for them. Rumel, from Tower Hamlets College, was more than pleased with his experience:

I have to say it fulfilled all my expectations and more of working in a high pressured City company. I really loved the work I was handed as I hope to go into law in the future and I felt that the whole internship was delicately thought out. The whole experience has been amazing!

And Belinda, from La Retraite School, gave her internship a glowing review:

It was very well structured and the program me gave me good exposure to the working world. They were very encouraging and supportive throughout the whole placement. Although it was challenging, at the same time it was very fun and exciting. It has been extremely valuable and will definitely contribute to success a long way down the line in life. In all I loved it!

We asked QBE whether they had any tips to share with employers looking to get involved:

Our students told us that they really liked the organised structure of the placement. On their first day we gave them each a pack which contained high level details of what they would be doing and who they would be working for.

They had two projects to work on – this worked well as it meant they had something to be getting on with at all times. One project was a QBE specific project whereby they had to interview several senior executives from across the business and present on their findings at the end of the placement. This helped the students get to know QBE and its people in a very real context, rather than simply reading about what we did. The students appeared to enjoy this and got a lot from this interview process.

In addition, as noted above we organised for the students to spend time in three other departments. Again, the students said they found this experience really beneficial in terms of understanding our wider business and gave them a more varied experience.

Finally, we were keen to find out if QBE would recommend hosting a placement to other organisations, and why:

We would definitely recommend hosting a placement. As far as we were concerned it was a win-win situation for everyone involved. The students were always helpful and keen to impress in everything they did. They willingly took on administrative tasks and were always keen to learn about and help out with more technical tasks. Notably, the students did everything to a very high standard and were genuinely conscientious in their approach. At the end of their placement, we asked the students to give a PowerPoint presentation on their time at QBE; we were blown away at their technical PowerPoint skills and even asked them to teach us a few things!

Above all else, the students were genuinely great to have around and were really well liked by everyone they met.

Our thanks to Esther, Sarah and the rest of the QBE team for providing an invaluable opportunity to our students, and for taking the time to tell us more.

For more information on hosting a placement or getting involved in the City of London Business Traineeship Programme, please contact the Programme Manager.

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