Apprentice Council

Our work is led by our amazing Council of current and recent apprentices. They bring a wealth of personal experience and knowledge to guide decisions about the Association’s strategy and focus.

Click on a member of the Council below to find out more about them.

Wajihah Aroob

L3 Insurance and Reinsurance Apprentice, Aon

Wajihah started her apprenticeship straight from sixth form as she enjoys practical learning. She has always been intrigued by financial services and likes the fact that working in insurance helps people by reducing risk. She was a member of her school’s senior committee and enjoyed being able to help others through this. Wajihah is passionate about her arts and loves painting and drawing realism portraiture in her free time. You could also find her baking away or busy in the gym.


Humphrey Francis-Jones

L6 Surveying Apprentice, Savills

Humphrey knew that he didn’t want to go to university and preferred to get straight into work. He has enjoyed a lot of responsibility early in his career and will already have four years’ in-house experience by the time he gains his MSc Building Surveying degree. However, he has noticed the difference in social opportunities compared with his friends at university and believes that the Association of Apprentices can help fill that gap in the apprenticeship offer. Outside of work you’ll find him carrying out some form of exercise, whether that be running, cycling, or even sailing.

Holly Gooding

L6 Digital Marketing, Colchester Teacher Training Consortium

Holly decided to choose the apprenticeship route over the traditional university route because she found that she learnt better when applying her learning to the workplace. Holly acquired a part-time job at the age of 16 and learnt quickly that she enjoyed working, which further convinced her to partake in an apprenticeship.  Feeling passionate about educating people on the alternative routes to university, Holly wishes to inspire others to undertake apprenticeships having known little about apprenticeships after completing college.

Outside of work, Holly really enjoys running and is a member of her local running club: Harwich Runners.  She also loves to travel and so looks forward to restrictions easing so that she can explore more areas of the world!

Simon Graham

L7 Executive MBA Apprentice, De Courcy Alexander

Simon brings experience that ranges from advocating for families at the Cambridge University Graduate Union to developing innovation projects in the automotive and energy sectors with companies like Air Products and Honda.  For him, apprenticeship is about being able to take a different view, enabling people to become the best that they can be, giving companies the skills needed at this time of technological and social change and bringing forward talent that is currently untapped.  It also gives an avenue for people like him to return to work after a career break, building up the confidence that can so easily be lost.

Qasim Iqbal

L7 Executive MBA Apprentice, HSBC

As well as recently completing an apprenticeship himself, Qasim has worked in the apprenticeship sphere for over 10 years (he is currently the Strategy & Governance Lead for Apprenticeships at HSBC). He is always looking for ways to promote apprenticeships and share his experiences, especially to the BAME community. 

He works with the Prince’s Trust and NCFE to help shape apprenticeships, traineeships and T-Levels. His hobbies and interests include sports, travelling and technology. He represents and plays cricket for HSBC and his local club.

Bilaal Khan

L4 Project Management, Via East Midlands

Bilaal started medical school but concluded that Medicine wasn’t for him. Deciding to volunteer and work in the third sector, the skills he developed during this year at a food bank, a clothes bank, two non-profits, and a charity where he ran a branch, led to his successful application at Via, a highways and civil engineering company owned by Nottinghamshire County Council. Here, in the public and private sector, he upholds the values that drove his third sector experiences within his projects, whilst applying his analytical approach to problem-solving.

Bilaal is also a Mental Health First Aider and led the relaunch of Via’s mental health initiatives. His current main project is implementing drones and he has a specific remit for empowering colleagues across the company to initiate change for the better through a structured staff suggestion scheme. Speaking to parliamentarians during his 11th week as an apprentice, Bilaal identified challenges that aspiring apprentices face and aims to tackle this with AoA. Bilaal enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee in his free time having improved his throw during the pandemic.

Zara Khan

L4 Project Management Apprentice, Walsall Council

Zara left school at 18 and went on to do work experience at Walsall Council where she was offered the chance to stay on and do a L3 Business Admin apprenticeship. After completing that, she moved on to her current L4 Project Management apprenticeship. She is the first person in her family to do an apprenticeship, so she knows how it feels to choose a different path rather than go to university. She was elected Chair of her local youth group, the Youth of Walsall, and led an award-winning knife awareness campaign, ‘Real Knives, Real Lives’ and was also a Senior Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Champion for a charity called Street Teams. 

She is currently a Senior Trustee and Risk Committee Chair for the British Youth Council, Black Country Area Lead for the West Midlands Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network and a Referral Order Panel Member for Walsall Council’s Youth Justice Team. When she’s not working or volunteering, she can be found tucked away in a corner reading a good book!

Jasmine King, Vice Chair

L6 Housing Policy and Practice Degree Apprentice, Flagship Group

Jasmine didn’t receive much information about apprenticeships when she was at school but decided it was the right path for her as it allowed her to gain hands-on experience in the workplace while gaining a degree. She is a passionate advocate for apprenticeships and inspiring others to undertake an apprenticeship. As a sub-regional chair for the Young Apprentice Ambassador Network, she has spoken about apprenticeships at a number of careers events and recorded multiple podcasts. Jasmine enjoys socialising with her friends and bottomless brunching at the weekends, as well as long dog walks with her cockapoo.

Bradley Longford

L6 Professional Practice in Management Apprentice, Henry Boot Construction

Bradley has really enjoyed his apprenticeship and he has found that his skills and knowledge have developed further than he could ever have imagined. He sees his future at Henry Boot Construction and would like to become a Business Development Manager. He is passionate about apprenticeships and has been involved in helping shape the Association of Apprentices since the very beginning. He wants people to see the value of apprenticeships and to encourage others to take this route to career success. 

During the weekend, Bradley can be found supporting his local football team Sheffield Wednesday and his friends’ Sunday league side, Stannington Rangers. Bradley also enjoys attending music festivals and gigs and has seen the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs and Blossoms to name a few.

Elle Melrose

L3 Business Admin, Bulb Energy

Elle studied Business Administration Level 3 through Multiverse at Bulb Energy.  After starting work at 16 as a Child in Care, Elle has worked in Hospitality, HR, Management, and Sales over the last nine years. With this great level of experience, Elle has now secured a role as the Priority Service Lead at Bulb after finishing her apprenticeship in September 2020. 

Elle is passionate about encouraging disadvantaged young people into the world of work and recognising their self-worth regardless of their previous experiences. Elle’s mantra is ‘if you want to try something, go for it, we miss the opportunities we don’t take’. In her spare time, Elle spends as much time at the beach as she can with her fiancé, Rob, and puppy, Hendrix.

Sam Mountford

L6 Manufacturing Engineering, Rolls Royce PLC

Sam has always been passionate about engineering but identified that the traditional university route was not for him. In his school, information about apprenticeships was limited and so, he pursued his research into the paths he could take into his chosen career. Once he had found out more, he decided it was a logical choice that allowed him to gain practical experience whilst also studying towards a degree. Sam is a strong advocate for apprenticeships and would like to increase their profile so young people can see the value in them.

He is keen to further develop the apprenticeship experience and believes the Association is a key part of this. In his spare time, you will most likely find Sam walking George the Border Collie or working on classic cars, most recently a 1980s Land Rover Defender.

Emma Nolan

L6 Software Engineering Apprentice, Thales

When she finished college, Emma wanted to gain workplace experience immediately, so an apprenticeship suited her perfectly.  She enjoys the many opportunities the apprenticeship has given her and looks forward to what’s to come as she feels her apprenticeship could lead her into a number of routes in the future. 

She is a Greater Manchester Apprentice Ambassador and part of the YAAN. She is also a Digital Her role model for Manchester Digital, encouraging young women into digital careers. In her free time, Emma scrapbooks to wind down and plays a variety of games, sometimes with friends and family. It’s reported that her favourite is The Sims!

David Oxenham

L5 Learning & Development Consultant/Business Partner, Siemens Mobility Ltd

Upon leaving school David did not consider an apprenticeship until he realised university was not for him, a decision that he has not looked back on! He has studied most of his apprenticeship remotely and is looking forward to the EPA process and the great career his apprenticeship has set him up for.  As part of the day job, he helps to promote apprenticeships and helps the Entry Level Talent team at Siemens Mobility to provide great opportunities for young people. Aside from work David enjoys playing football and watching Formula 1.

Hannah Payne

L3 Business Administration, WorldSkills UK

Hannah is now the Skills Development Co-ordinator after completing her Level 3 Business Administration apprenticeship at WorldSkills UK. Hannah chose to complete an apprenticeship as she believed this was the best platform for her to expand her skills and kick start her career!

Toby Poultney

L3 Boat Building, Marcus Lewis Boatbuilder

Toby is a Boat Builder working in Fowey, Cornwall. After graduating from Falmouth University with a BA Hons in Photography, he gained an interest in boat building as it combines his practical skills with his willingness to learn about maritime heritage and conservation. In Fowey, he works on a variety of sailing and motor vessels, using both modern and traditional skills and techniques. In his time off, Toby enjoys getting out on the sea on a paddleboard, sailing or walking the South West coast path.

Alanya-Lee Prince

L4 Project Management, Hopwood Hall College

Alanya-Lee has been an apprentice since she was seventeen, having worked her way up from Level 2 to Level 4. She is passionate about changing the perception of those who think apprenticeships are an ‘easy route’ for those who are ‘not academic’ as this is most definitely not the case. Alanya-Lee has worked in the apprenticeship department for five years and has developed extensive knowledge surrounding all things apprenticeships. When Alayna is not working or studying you will find her enjoying her hobbies which include running, travelling and listening to music from the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s.

Joel Roach, Chair

L6 Chartered Management Degree Apprentice, Microsoft

Joel spent a year at university before deciding it wasn’t for him; gaining an apprenticeship place gave him an alternative path to getting a degree and was the best decision he’s ever made. He thinks the Association of Apprentices can offer the social element and connection to a wider community that is often missing from apprenticeships. He is also a member of IfATE’s apprentice panel, ensuring the apprentice experience is at the core of the Institute’s strategy, and has been responsible for holding induction sessions for new Microsoft apprentices over the last two years pushing to include sessions on culture, wellbeing, and inclusion for all new starters. 

He also sits on the board of Microsoft UK’s LGBTQI+ community, supporting events which amplify LGBTQI+ voices and engage the community and allies at Microsoft. Joel has gotten into baking during lockdown – he would be very grateful to any baking apprentices who can tell him why his banana bread won’t rise.

Simran Sandhu

L3 Assistant Accountant Apprentice, HS2 Ltd

Simran chose to do an apprenticeship to gain practical skills, relevant work experience and qualifications in her chosen field. She will be able to try all the different areas of finance and therefore find the section that fits her best. She plans to continue to do her L4 and eventually gain her CIMA qualification. She has worked at a number of different organisations and therefore has varied experience and knowledge of private sector organisations. Simran loves working out to stay healthy, and identifies herself as a shopaholic as she believes retail therapy is the best kind!

Nicole Seaman

L5 Operations & Departmental Management Apprentice, Abellio Transport Holdings

Nicole is gaining a range of experience as a Graduate Management Trainee in the rail industry but chose to do an apprenticeship alongside this because it gives the theoretical underpinning as well as practical experience. Having already been to university, she is a great example that apprenticeships are not just for school leavers and can also enhance your prospects at a later stage. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, she is an active member of the Women in Rail and Young Railway Professionals organisations. Nicole is a keen traveller and has already been to 21 countries, including one summer touring South East Asia.

James Sewell

L4 Professional Accounting/Taxation Technician Apprentice, PwC

James began working whilst in sixth form and enjoyed mixing work and study so decided an apprenticeship would suit him well. He’s a member of PwC’s Reward & Employment team, supporting clients on a number of Employment Tax related matters. He has experience of supporting others to find apprenticeships and has a strong desire to help aspiring new professionals. He has also worked with both Future First and Tech UK. 

In his spare time, James loves working on his car and watching his favourite football team Southampton FC play.

Aiden Wakelam

L3 Senior Production Chef Apprentice, Mitchells & Butler

Aiden is doing his L3 having already completed a L2 Commis Chef apprenticeship. He loves cooking and therefore wants to become a chef. His apprenticeship has helped him to come out of his shell and his talents have been recognised as he has won a number of awards over the last few years – including the West Midlands Intermediate Apprentice of the Year in 2019 and School Leaver of the Year in 2020. 

He is continuing the remote learning sections of his apprenticeship as he hasn’t been able to gain as much kitchen experience during the Covid lockdowns. After hours, Aiden builds computers for himself and his friends – current tally: 5 and counting…

Euan Wilcox

L6 Chartered Management Degree Apprentice, IBM

Euan knew he wanted to complete a degree apprenticeship while he was still at school. He feels privileged that he can work in a field he’s passionate about while also gaining a qualification. He always goes the extra mile, and while head boy at school he led a successful campaign to eradicate plastic from the school canteen as well as meeting with his local MP to discuss climate change. 

He wants to use his skills to achieve positive change for apprentices and to create a network of like-minded individuals. When he’s not working, you’ll find Euan on his skateboard or listening to music (usually the most expensive vinyls he can find!).

Polly Williams

L3 HR Support, Munich Re

Having ruled out university, Polly found little support to explore other options.  Fortunately, she’d seen her brother take the apprenticeship route with the Civil Service and as a result, was confident this was the path for her.   After A-levels, she took a year out, when she travelled and worked as a Google Digital Skills Coach.

She started her apprenticeship during the first lockdown and works for Munich Re, an insurance company, as a Talent Management and Development apprentice. She’s almost completed her apprenticeship and plans to move onto her CIPD Level 5 having enjoyed the combination of academic study and on- the-job learning.

Already a strong advocate for apprenticeships, Polly joined the Apprentice Council as she’s keen to take a more public role, encouraging others to see apprenticeships as a brilliant option leading to long term careers. Outside of work Polly loves walking her dogs, running, paddle boarding and skiing.

Le’Shaé Woodstock

L3 Digital Marketing Apprentice, Siren Search

Le’Shaé’s apprenticeship has enabled her to develop her skills and knowledge through first-hand, practical learning. She feels that many young people are ill-informed about apprenticeships and would like to be a spokesperson for apprentices, showing the success that can be achieved by choosing this route. She feels strongly that apprentices’ mental health can suffer due to isolation and lack of social opportunities, and therefore sees the importance of the Association of Apprentices. 

In her spare time, Le’Shaé loves cooking, Pilates and listening to podcasts from a range of genres (she even has her own Podcast called ‘Doing Better’).

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