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Lauren Cotton

Winner: Level 2 Business Administrator Apprenticeship

Lauren is the first apprentice I have ever employed. At the start of her time with us, while she was familiarising herself with some complex legislation and procedures, I set Lauren some personal objectives which were quite broadly defined, with a year to complete them. Lauren had achieved all of them within 6 months! Her personal work ethic is to be admired and she was never afraid to ask for help, but equally I never had the same question twice; she assimilates information at a rate that is quite exceptional.

Whilst undertaking her coursework, Lauren took responsibility for the information access requests (under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act 2018) received by Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group. Her target objective time to learn the process was set at one year, however within 6 months Lauren was suggesting improvements to the processes, all of which were adopted and all of which have streamlined the system. Another objective I set Lauren was to undertake induction training with new staff members, related to data protection legislation. It is common for new employees to ask questions, so a broader knowledge is required. Lauren was shadowing me to learn and I can recall getting called away when we had a training session to deliver. Rather than cancel, Lauren went and delivered the training face-to-face and the feedback I received was excellent. From that moment onwards Lauren has been actively delivering induction training. She has a pleasant personality and her communication skills have improved no end. She also puts her communication skills into practice when chasing responses to Freedom of Information requests as she has to speak to people at all levels in the CCG, some of whom are quite reticent to provide her with the necessary information. 

Lauren is extremely organised, will not settle for second-best and strives for excellence in all that she does. Since the lockdown at the start of the year, we have faced new challenges to the way that we work. Lauren has taken responsibility for adapting and developing our working practices onto the Microsoft Teams platform. This is a completely new way of working for us, but Lauren is leading the way. She has already automated the Freedom of Information requests and she has provided training not just to the Data Security Team, but also to information owners in various departments in the CCG. I am aware that she researches the facilities provided with MS Teams on YouTube so that she can organise and plan our work on the virtual platform. I had previously been to look at a bespoke platform that a neighbouring health body had developed which largely automated the process. The cost to the CCG would have been in excess of £50K and yet Lauren has achieved an equitable system using the tools at her disposal. Lauren has also contacted our two General Practice Data Protection Officers and is assisting them with automating their systems, too. All this without being asked!

Lauren came to our team as an apprentice under two years ago. She undertook her coursework with commitment and diligence whilst learning some complex areas of work. At the same time she overcame a significant personal challenge in her private life, set herself some high personal targets in the working environment, has overcome all obstacles and achieved all her goals. I got significant job satisfaction in assisting and mentoring Lauren through her training, but the most satisfaction I had was when I was able to offer Lauren a full-time post within our team, despite several offers from other teams within the CCG. She has certainly earned her place and I can see a bright future for her in this field of work.

To summarise, Lauren is a first-class team member, but more importantly perhaps is Lauren’s willingness to learn and her determination to get things right. She consistently she shows initiative and steps in to help others on a regular basis without waiting to be asked.

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