It’s National Apprenticeship Week! Senior Leader graduate Laura Williams, shares her experience of her time on the course
We caught up with Laura, who is the Event Service Manager for South Coast Conferences, to hear about her experience on the Senior Leadership Apprenticeship. After four years of working in her existing role, Laura was thinking about career progression. As part of her staff development review, she discovered the Senior Leader programme, which is based on the university’s long-standing and successful MBA qualification, and has been designed as an apprenticeship, so that it complements a relevant job role.
What made you choose the Senior Leader apprenticeship programme?
“I felt that the time was right to really enhance my skillset and progress in my career, and the Senior Leader programme aligned perfectly.
I’ve worked in higher education for ten years, so I knew the workload would be high, and that I would have to sacrifice time to complete it.
How did you find the programme, and how did you get on with your fellow apprentices?
“As a cohort we were very close, and supportive – something I didn’t expect, which was such a bonus to the whole experience. I found myself studying alongside people that I would not have met otherwise, who work in different very different areas of industry, including the NHS and the third sector. Working and learning with them brought completely different perspectives, and opened my eyes to the challenges that they have in their industries. I just thought “oh my goodness, I would never have known!”. I got so much from the people I studied with.”
What were the benefits of learning that you applied to your role?
“The assignments that we did throughout the two years were work-based and at times that was quite tricky because I was working at work, studying about work and writing about work! However, there were huge benefits. For example, in the Finance and Accounting module and we had to conduct a financial analysis of something in our workplace.
So, I looked at the pop-up hotel that we run every summer at the Phoenix halls of residence. I conducted a cost analysis of the price of the rooms we were marketing, including the direct and indirect costings and overheads, to make sure we were financially viable. The work that I did was used to align our prices for the following summer.
The apprenticeship allowed me the time for a deep dive into practical applications like this, which directly benefited the business. And this applied to the whole cohort as many of my fellow apprentices produced project work which brought tangible results to their workplaces.”
Has anything changed or developed in your job role since you graduated?
“The scope of my role has changed. Now that I have the tools and skills, I feel empowered and confident in financial forecasting and strategy building, which is fantastic for the department.”
Could you share with us something that you’re proud of since graduating?
“I’m proud of the work that I’ve done to steer the department’s strategy, because it’s something that we have been trying to get off the ground for a while. I’ve rolled up my sleeves and thought, well, I can do this because I’ve just got myself the skills and knowledge from my apprenticeship programme.”
And finally, is there any advice that you would give to anyone considering this, or any other apprenticeship?
“Firstly, it would be absolutely do it! I think it’s not just about the qualification, it is about the journey that you go through, the people that you meet, the different perspectives that you experience. But also, it’s the study mode. I find it easier to learn when I can see the practical applications of things and an apprenticeship is exactly that!”