National Robotarium

Glass-panelled exterior of proposed design for the robotarium

In this case study we hear from Rayane Sefiane, a GA student on our MA (Hons) Business Management programme, on his experience so far at the National Robotarium.

We also hear from Ross Clark, Rayane's mentor, on the impact he has had in the team.

Please explain how you got your placement and outline what you were doing before your graduate apprenticeship.  

I found the graduate position through Prior to the position I was studying chemical physics at Heriot-Watt.

What were the benefits of the graduate apprenticeship programme that attracted you the most?

For me, the benefits of a graduate apprenticeship scheme are:

  • I'm gaining real-life work experience that can be used to increase my employability and my performance as an employee. The flexibility of my position as a project support also allows me to target skills that I would need such as presentation, formal writing or working in a cross-disciplinary environment.
  • I'm gaining perspective on different aspects of the workplace and how they operate so that I can make a more informed decision on where I want to work. Being a project support helps a lot as I regularly interact with many different departments in the University such as finance, estates, communications, executive, Edinburgh University, academics, etc.

Please describe what you are employed to do and how you have coped with the challenges of learning new skills whilst studying towards a degree.

I'm employed to:

  • Maintain and manage the working group meetings through minuting and terms of reference.
  • Maintain actions though an action log, Gantt chart and a Kanban board.
  • Support financial management of project through tracking invoices and submitting claims to Edinburgh Council.
  • Input into design and activities related to the National Robotarium.
  • Support delivery of the University partnership for Expo 2020.
  • Provide general support and reporting for the project manager.

The graduate apprenticeship scheme has opened the opportunity to a wide variety of career opportunities and has given me the perspective to choose where to go.

Rayane Sefiane, Graduate Apprentice

What is your proudest achievement so far in your role and can you explain how this impacted on your working environment and/or helped deliver results on behalf of your organisation?

I was tasked to think about and detail a list of requirements for an artificial intelligence (AI) receptionist for the National Robotarium. I presented the requirements to the academics who designed the AI. 

  • I received positive feedback on my presentation and material and was told that it was clear, informative, and concise.
  • Being a part of the process of developing the AI was rewarding, as well as the prospect of seeing the reception fully built-in and knowing I was personally involved.

What are your future career hopes and goals on completion of the graduate apprenticeship? Please explain how you think this will differ if you had gone via the traditional route of achieving a degree via a full-time undergraduate programme.

I plan on pursuing in a career in project management. I'm unsure of what specific sector I will work in so my goal by the end of the graduate apprenticeship scheme is to develop and raise my profile so that I have as many options as possible. I hope to have a clearer idea on an industry that I want to work in as I continue to develop my skills and meet more people.

Had I continued an undergraduate programme I would have probably been unsure and uninformed on which career I should pursue which could lead to working a job that I dislike and is not what I would have expected.

Please give a quote to sum up your overall experience of the graduate apprenticeship programme.

The graduate apprenticeship scheme has opened the opportunity to a wide variety of career opportunities and has given me the perspective to choose where to go.

Ross Clark, GA Mentor

What are the key reasons why the graduate apprentice model suits your business or industry?

I was attracted by the opportunity to develop a graduate apprentice who could add value to the project team, where they can apply the skills they were learning from a high-quality education. This creates a mutual benefit where the work-based experience informs their studies and vice-versa, which continues to grow over time.

What appealed to you most about Heriot Watt University as the GA provider?

I had already seen the significant benefits of the programme at first hand within Heriot-Watt University across several areas.

In what way has the candidate made a contribution to the workplace or business?

Rayane has established himself as a key member of the project team and has played an important role in supporting a number of activities. He has responsibility for supporting a number of our boards and working groups whilst using his own initiative to apply our project planning approach. As Rayane's development continues, his responsibilities will increase and his profile will continue to be grow amongst stakeholders.

How do you feel about the apprentice's future? 

Rayane is a very focussed and adaptable colleague which is also demonstrated in his studies. He has taken the opportunity to be involved in a high-profile strategic project and run with it.

As there is always a demand for project managers across all sectors, the experience and variety of skills he is gaining will be highly transferable. When you combine this with his dedicated attitude, I'm confident that Rayane's future will be bright.

Based on your experience of the graduate apprenticeship programme would you happily employ another graduate apprentice in the future? 

Absolutely. The programme has really work worked for us.