Norfolk Network stories

Blog Member Stories

James Davis: Apprentice Of the Year

Matt Dobbin
Atticus Research

I’m the founding partner of Atticus Research, a qualitative agency specialising in creative techniques and behavioural insights.

Last year I was invited through Norfolk Network, to give a talk to business studies students at CCN about my career in qualitative research. As soon as I finished speaking, business management student James Davis approached me and wanted to chat about the prospect of work experience with Atticus. I am always looking to give students some valuable experience, and given James’s enthusiasm, courtesy and obvious interest, I was glad to offer this to him. It was clear from the outset that James had a natural ability for research and quickly became a valuable member of the team.

James worked on a high profile project for the BBC, recruiting and interviewing other young people in the local area, and with only a very short amount of experience, successfully presented to the team at the BBC in Salford. He stole the show, and the senior audience were extremely impressed and delighted with his work.

James and a fellow colleague turned this into a paper for the Market Research Society Youth Conference. James presented at the conference with a confidence and charisma that belie his young age. As a result of this work experience in the early days I was extremely keen to give James permanent employment. As he wanted to continue his learning alongside work, he arranged an apprenticeship programme with BPP university, entirely on his own initiative. He is completing three qualifications whilst working full time in a very demanding job. James’ efforts have been recognised and out of 2,000 students he won the BPP ‘Apprentice Of the Year’.

James’ efforts have been recognised and out of 2,000 students
he won the BPP ‘Apprentice Of the Year’.

He has continually innovated while working at Atticus and his introduction of new data collection software and working practices, led to Atticus Research winning the prestigious BPP ‘SME Apprentice Employer Of the Year’.

As a smaller business we were reluctant to take on an apprentice initially, fearing that it would be too much additional work and responsibility in the context of a very hectic work schedule. However, the rewards greatly outweigh the effort. From the very beginning he was adding value to the business. The more time I have spent working closely with James on projects, and sharing my experience with him, the more he has learned and the quicker he has become more and more autonomous and able to manage ever more challenging aspects of the job. In so doing, he has felt a real sense of progression, which is self-perpetuating, and I have had the benefit of a right hand man on whom I can rely completely. I would encourage others to embrace this amazing opportunity to grow their businesses at the same time as helping develop the workforce.