Crimson Academy: Our 2020 cohort share their experience so far

Emily Schilling News

November has been a highly successful month for Crimson Academy. Featuring in an article in The Guardian and attending virtual award ceremonies are some key highlights. Crimson was named West Midlands SME Employer of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards at the beginning of November – with the National Awards taking place at the end of the month. The NAA’s aren’t the only awards featuring in Crimson’s events calendar. They will also be virtually attending the BirminghamLive Apprenticeship Awards in November as finalists in the Medium Employer of the Year category. November also marks two months since our 2020 cohort joined us. This year’s new starters are not only the biggest group of apprentices we’ve welcomed but are also the most diverse. 

Cat Halstead, Head of Academy at Crimson, has taken some time to reflect on the past two months. This year’s onboarding has been the most challenging since the birth of Crimson Academy – but it has also been the most successful.

Cat Halstead – “We carried out the entire 2020 apprenticeship recruitment cycle online and it was a massive success – we have a really strong cohort! This week we are due to start our knowledge academy sessions where we focus on specific business skills and awareness topics. We believe these sessions are critical to developing successful, well-rounded individuals, and we also focus on how to build stronger relationships. Originally planned to be face to face sessions, we are ready to deliver them remotely via Microsoft Teams. To ensure they remain as interactive as in-person meetings, we have built in some breakout sessions.”

Some of the 2020 cohort have also taken the time to reflect on their first two months at Crimson: 


Andrea Kahle – The welcome received by all staff has been wonderful from day one, despite many of the first encounters with colleagues being remote. There was no reticence, we were immediately part of the Crimson family and treated accordingly.

We have been encouraged to stretch ourselves and grasp the plethora opportunities available to develop – whether that be in mindset, a practical skill or simply experience in a certain field. At each step I was challenged to try to figure things out for myself after a brief introduction, it really is the best way to learn, with a helping hand ready and willing whenever I needed it.

It’s almost unfathomable that we have experienced and achieved so much in such a short space of time, but we have because the programme is well structured and thought out. It has been invested in and continuously improved, to ensure that even though nobody is ever the appropriate amount of ‘whelmed’, we are never in it alone.


James Cooper – On the whole, I have really enjoyed my first two months with Crimson. There has been a wide range of learning activities, including some very entertaining role-plays. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into project work now, and I’ve recently booked my first Microsoft Exam.


Mihai Iacob – I’ve loved every single day of my Crimson journey so far. This is because Crimson feels more like a family rather than just a job. I’ve been impressed with how much attention has been given to the apprentices in terms of presentations we had from every head of department and the Managing Director himself – it made me feel like I am valuable and gives me confidence that I can be successful at Crimson.

Once we were assigned to projects, it felt good to get involved early on and see how we deliver CRM to our customers. I am part of a fantastic team that has taken great care of me since day one and I’ve had the opportunity to work on many different things from customizing Dynamics, configuring security roles, creating business rules, automating document & coding. I can confidently say that I learned loads in these two months. I am excited for what comes next and proud to be part of the Crimson family!


Sabrina Bano – I’ve had such a warm, joyous and informative welcome to Crimson. Everyone is keen to share their knowledge and support me on my journey. In my first few months, I’ve learnt about Crimson’s different practices and also gained an insight into Dynamics 365 and its power to improve business productivity and performance. I’m looking forward to delving deeper!


Michael Hunter – I’ve found it’s been quite an intense first few months, but I don’t think it could have gone any better than it has. I’ve learned a lot and grown a lot already, and my experience so far has made me much more confident in my own future. I can only hope that it will continue to be as enjoyable as the past two months have been.


Satveer Shanker – It has been two months into my career change, and what a positive experience it has been. For me, what has really set Crimson apart from other employers is their passion and enthusiasm to invest into my future career success. Not one day has past where I have not been challenged to grow and develop my technical and interpersonal skills.

Everyone here has gone above and beyond to welcome and support me on this new journey – showing genuine care for me as an individual. Crimson have pulled together a talented group of apprentices and through team building sessions we have quickly formed a strong group cohesion, going the extra mile supporting each other and creating new meaningful friendships. The foundation Crimson are building for me will no doubt ensure I will be able to thrive on my adventure in the digital world.


Natasha Hall – Crimson has given us many opportunities to learn and develop ourselves. Despite joining the company during a global pandemic, we have all felt Crimson’s warm welcome through many creative means such as the Crimson Cuppa. Crimson is a growing company but has been able to stick to its core values: credibility, innovation, integrity, accountability, and quality, and also encourages us to read books that develop our growth mindset. I look forward to being a part of Crimson’s prosperous future.


Cameron Baxter – After an extremely warm welcome into my new career at Crimson, I have settled in very quickly. The past two months have gone by in the blink of an eye. I have already been assigned project work and learned lots in the first steps in becoming a Microsoft certified, qualified business analyst. I have formed strong relationships with many people across the company – most notably my mentor, my coach, and my academy cohort – who have all aided my progress so far. I look forward to what the rest of this journey will bring me.