ITP Award Winners 2021 - Christopher Mills Award Apprentices / Ritika Mital
Can you tell us about your career history so far and how you got to where you are?
After relocating to the UK, I joined Openreach in October 2020 as a Customer Service Operations & Planning Apprentice. For the past year, I have been working in the Service Delivery division where I have completed multiple roles, learnt a variety of skills, and have had a constructive impact on several teams and the BT Group.
I started my career in 2015 as an HR professional in India where I worked for a manufacturing giant – Vedanta Resources PLC. In 2017 I started my journey in the telecoms industry by joining Bharti Airtel Limited as their HR Business Partner for a regional office in South India.
As my interest in telecoms grew, I managed to transition my field from HR into Telecom Operations by pursuing an apprenticeship at Openreach.
What made you want to pursue a career in this industry?
While working as an HR professional I was always intrigued by the engineering sector and was curious to explore a career outside of HR. My interest in telecoms was piqued when I joined Airtel and understood that telecoms is more than just ‘phones’ and ‘broadband.’ It’s a whole new world that started with telephony and has evolved into a necessity. To further this interest in telecoms and business, I decided to join Openreach to gain experience in multiple teams and work for an industry giant with a global presence.
How important is ongoing learning and professional development to you?
I am a naturally curious individual always eager to grow and learn as a professional. I always value ‘learning’ over ‘earning’ in a job and try to keep myself updated with the latest industry trends and best practices.
Thanks to the easily available course content on the internal learning platforms, I have managed to utilise my time gaining business skills and understanding the nuances of the IT & Telecoms sector.
What has been your biggest challenge?
I believe the biggest challenge that I have faced is relocating to the UK and having to start over. Within months of my arrival in the UK, the world became engulfed in a pandemic and that made my job hunt even harder.
A move that had excited me earlier, now proved to be a bigger challenge especially when I was in a new land where I couldn’t step out to celebrate this change or meet new people.
So instead of waiting for something to happen, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and launch my blog – Glocal Girl, to capture my thoughts in a lifestyle blog.
With my energy channelled into doing something constructive, I soon decided to take charge of my professional life and switched my career from HR to Telecom Operations and thus joined Openreach.
What would you say to young people looking to pursue a career in telecoms?
I believe young people have a lot on their plate and so many career options to choose from. If telecom interests you, then it’s best to talk to someone from the industry to understand which division you want to be a part of. Many organisations are conducting webinars and placement talks to encourage students and young professionals to join as an apprentice, or a graduate and get a firsthand experience for themselves.
What should the industry be doing to encourage more females into STEM roles?
I believe encouraging school students to dream about a career in STEM roles – engineering, technology, and computer science is the key to increasing the percentage of women in this industry. At present young girls don’t see themselves working in unconventional roles and hence do not even try to venture into STEM roles. Once the idea of a career in the STEM industry is implanted in the minds of young girls from their school days, it will be possible for them to envisage and build their own careers in this unconventional industry.
What does winning the award mean to you?
I must say, this is the biggest achievement of my life. Getting recognised for my work within the first year of my service and that too in a new country – I sure feel honoured to have shared the platform with some of the finest professionals from the telecoms industry. I would like to thank ITP for giving me this recognition and Openreach for giving me a chance to work in a senior role.
This award has surely encouraged me to reinvent myself as a telecom professional and see a career in the field of engineering and technology.
Ritika is currently a Desk-based Apprentice: Tactical Planner East London at Openreach.
See the full list of 2021 winners and finalists here.