The BLD Foundation Induction Day
Bouba Balde, Legal Launch Pad Participant 2016
Upon arriving at Canary Wharf Station on the 29th January 2016, I could not help but reminisce back to when I lived across the Thames from this place, a 6-year-old boy who had just moved to the country, unbeknown that I would one day be travelling from Newcastle to step foot into the global Headquarters of Barclays thanks to the BLD Foundation. The feeling was surreal.
Personal emotions aside, the excitement and nerves of an induction day that was 3 months in the making crept up on me as I entered 1 Churchill Place and walked into the hall where the LLP induction day was taking place. Meeting my fellow candidates, a diverse yet unanimously friendly group, eased any nerves before we were asked to take our seats for the beginning of what would be a truly special day.
A quick video message from the Founder, Debo Nwauzu, set the tone of the day right; this was to be a special day, for a special set of individuals, by a very special programme. The welcome from David McCahon, General Counsel of Barclays, brilliantly accompanied Debo’s message as he introduced himself and also welcomed us to the LLP, explaining how he has seen the positive changes this programme has created for past candidates.
I was very moved by Julian Gizzi’s opening speech of his younger self getting involved in the legal career, elegantly spoken in a third person narrative. The DAC Beachcroft Partner provided us with some great tips on how to present ourselves when meeting with our assigned mentors, as he is a mentor himself. Having a mentor is something I, alongside many others, have not had before and knowing how to present yourself in the upcoming situation was invaluable.
The longest talk of the morning fell to Sairah Hussain of Baker & McKenzie for obvious reasons; it was in regards to the competencies and application process. I was able to take brilliant notes from the graduate recruitment and development officer that I will undoubtedly use in future application processes. The notable notes I wrote were:
· What employers look for (Academic record, employment history, activities & interests etc.)
· Setting out a cover letter
· Reasons / areas where many applicants fall down
A short tea/coffee break later (many thanks to Barclays hospitality team!) and we were again seated for Hashi Mohamed, Barrister at No5 Chambers, to lecture us about the bar skills and its application process. Although the majority of my fellow candidates aspire to be solicitors, I can assure you that not one person in the room felt uninspired after Hashi had finished his speech. The floor was silent. Every person was inhaling his aura and his words of wisdom. He was simply brilliant. This lecture truly made me realise that I was embarking on a career changing experience with the LLP and I would not be surprised if Hashi convinced a few others that going down the Bar route would be best for them (not to worry Tricia, I still want to be a solicitor!)
Samantha Hope, graduate recruitment manager at Shoosmiths, kept our spirits high with an energetic and bubbly presentation on Shoosmiths as a firm and tips on how to prepare for the interview experience. It was extremely refreshing to work with my fellow LLP candidates on a workshop exercise Samantha gave us on answering interview questions. The opportunity to speak to Samantha after her presentation on our lunch break was also very informative, and I thank her for that (and thank you Barclays Hospitality for the food!).
The practical workshops continued after the lunch break with John Watkins of the University of Law giving us a very insightful presentation on business skills and networking, showcasing to us how our business skills can always be enhanced and the importance of practice & preparation.
Tyler Dearson, Vice President of M&A at Barclays, conducted a workshop on how to read the Financial Times and I must say, it is one of the most useful workshop I have ever participated in. The need for commercial awareness is obvious for aspiring lawyers, trainees and solicitors alike and the importance of being able to PROPERLY read the FT cannot be understated. This workshop is one I viewed with high regard.
We were then joined by a panel of speakers in regards to our career options, hosted by Annabel Burrows who had done a magnificent job of running the agenda of the day. With speakers from CILEx andVodafone to Pinsent Masons and the Government Legal Service, the amount of new information we were provided with was enormous, and we were given the opportunity to ask a plethora of questions to the panel. I was glad to gain a greater understanding of in-house legal work from Wayne Spillett of Vodafone, who informed us of how in-house work was ‘intense’ yet you are given a lot of responsibility from the start.
The second panel of speakers were Alumni of the Legal Launch Pad programme who had each gained a training contract in top commercial firms which they owed to their participation in the programme. It was particularly pleasing to hear from individuals who were once in the same seat as us and had gone through the rollercoaster of emotions we were currently going through.
As the day drew to a close, it was fitting that Debo came out to inspire us (and check out our dance moves) one last time. I will not forget the two vital tips she repeated to us throughout her speech:
· DON’T PUT A LID ON IT!
· I’VE GOT THE POWER!
The closing words from her and David Jackson, Global Head of M&A at Barclays, ended the induction day on the highest possible note, not before giving us the opportunity to thank our first port of call on the LLP and the woman who made sure the day all went to plan, Tricia.
And with that, an inspirational, emotional, brilliant induction day came to an end. Many thanks to all who were involved, Barclays, and the BLD Foundation.
Carine Packer, Legal Launch Pad Opportunities Candidate 2016
After attending the BLD Legal Launch Pad induction day, I was inspired by the number of alumni who had secured training contracts with the help of the scheme and felt very motivated that I could achieve the same as an opportunities candidate.
The competition of getting a training contract is fierce, networking and getting yourself noticed is therefore important. The scheme offers great networking opportunities with a range of lawyers in different stages, from trainees to partners and lawyers in private practice to in-house in a range of industries. The networking on the day posed a great opportunity to get yourself noticed in front of leading firms but also to get a wider understanding of the legal industry and opportunities out there.
Leading experts from the University of Law, Barclays and Baker & McKenzie to name a few, came to give their advice on applications and commercial awareness. This practical advice was invaluable and gave me a great understanding of where I need to improve to succeed this year.
You are also given a mentor which sets the BLD Foundation apart from other diversity schemes out there. Having somebody in the industry to provide advice and to talk to during the application period is invaluable. It is clear that everybody working at the BLD Foundation as well as the volunteers believe in you and really want to see you succeed, this gives me the confidence I will and I am really excited to see what else the BLD Foundation has planned.