At Green Bell Packaging, we’re passionate about supporting the next generation so for this week’s National Careers Week, we’ll be catching up with two of our former apprentices Yannis Pontiggia and Swapnil Sonnagi to see what they’re up to now.
How long did you work at Green Bell Packaging and how did you get involved with the company?
Yannis: “I worked there from February 2020-August 2020 as an intern as part of my university studies. I found out about the company as Thibault Denis, who is in charge of Business Development, was a friend of a friend. Thibault was my supervisor throughout my internship.”
Swapnil: “I was working at Green Bell Packaging for around a year. At the time, I was studying International Business when I started my internship and I found out about the company through a friend who suggested applying. I really wanted to work with a start-up, as you can get to know so much and be really hands on in your role, which attracted me to the company.”
What did you do in your role and what were your day-to-day tasks?
Yannis: “Each trainee had been assigned a sector or activity – I was initially in charge of the hotel industry and sports clubs in the UK.
“My tasks were to understand our products and the complex plastics and biodegradable industry, and then to understand our positioning. Once I felt more comfortable, I was able to start making a list of potential customers in my industry and analyse the competition. At the beginning of my internship, I started for about two to three months with the market within the UK, trying to meet potential clients and create a business relationship with them, then after acquiring more basic knowledge, I evolved in my tasks and participated in the expansion of the start-up outside the UK with the aim of creating subsidiaries in Switzerland, France and Belgium.”
Swapnil: “I was given the role of Business Development Manager, which involved sales planning, market analysis, securing and setting up meetings with clients and selling products including negotiation. During my internship, I was based in Green Bell Packaging’s London office.
“Even before I began my role, I was already interested in sustainability and eco-friendly ways of doing business, so I was really excited to get involved with the company on a work-experience basis.”
What did you enjoy most about your apprenticeship?
Yannis: “I received a lot of support and learned a lot. For example, I never felt like ‘just an intern’. We had meetings on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons to highlight the week and plan the next one, and during these meetings we always received feedback on our work, which helped me to improve and develop my skills. Vahid, the company founder, was often in the same office as me and always helped me and regularly asked me how I was getting on. I felt that my opinion was taken into consideration.”
Swapnil: “I liked how much the team got involved in our training – I felt really supported throughout my entire experience. During my first month, I received training in the Liverpool headquarters where I learned about work processes and company expectations. Here, I was guided by the CEO and the directors themselves, and received hands-on guidance on how to navigate sales and approach customers.”
What did you gain from your internship?
Yannis: “My internship at Green Bell Packaging allowed me to understand the workings of a start-up, compared to the environment of a bank or a five-star hotel where I may have worked in the past. From my first days at the company, I was made to understand that I would not just be an intern with the role of assistant – I was directly given the position of Business Development Manager. I was assigned a specific industry, with a portfolio of potential clients to create and then contact. In addition, I was able to regularly convey my ideas and opinions on several aspects of Green Bell Packaging. This collaborative spirit of the start-up also developed my team spirit – being able to participate in all the activities and being able to share our ideas as a team or having to describe my weekly actions in front of the whole team made me realise the importance of teamwork in a company like Green Bell Packaging.
“My managers took the time to organise a training day for us, which was very rewarding. They explained to us the different stages of a sale and how to act during each of them – for example, creating a database, contacting them, waiting and listening to their feedback. They also explained to us the importance of creating a relationship with customers and how to understand their needs to find solutions to fit.”
Swapnil: “For me, I learned so much about the all-round business experience – I gained confidence in striking deals and communicating with clients, and it was a fantastic chance to really work on my personal skills. It was so helpful to be exposed to a busy, fast-paced environment and to face a new challenge, too. It’s really helped me with my career – working with a start-up has its own pros and cons – but while there is some risk there, the great thing is you get to know every aspect of how the business works, plus when you’re working for a small company you’re given the opportunity to make a real difference to the wider team.”
What personal aspects will you take away from your experience?
Yannis: “I didn’t have a huge interest in sustainability before working at Green Bell Packaging, but my work experience there really changed my mind about it. Today, I am more attentive to the problems of global warming.”
Swapnil: “I faced high pressure and many challenges and learned to be prepared professionally and personally. My interpersonal skills have really improved, and I look forward to the next steps in my career. I’ve also been able to evaluate my expectations from a company and to think about what I want from the business I work with, and what I want from my future. I also really admire the work that Green Bell Packaging are doing for the environment and for the world as a whole.”
To find out more about our work experience opportunities, contact us today.