We spoke to Lucy and Holly to gain insight into the successes and challenges of the programme through an apprentices point of view, in order to produce tips and advice for future delegates.
What is an average day in your role like and what do you enjoy most?
Lucy: “An average day in my role can vary a lot, from acting as lead on a project, briefing delivery teams, identifying areas of organic growth within the client portfolio and acting as the main day to day point of contact for clients regarding the strategic development and delivery of projects and campaigns. I really enjoy building mutually beneficial relationships with both clients and internal teams alike.”
Holly: “I manage and deliver project for our clients, so that could be anything from calls with clients, to writing briefs, to reviewing outputs to creating project plans. I also manage a team of Project Managers who I support on day-to-day queries and personal objectives, as well as acting as an escalation for their projects. I also work as part of a wider account team on continuous improvement initiatives and allocating team resource to new projects. The thing I enjoy the most is working with a wide variety of people whether that be internal teams, or clients to come up with great ideas for solving problems.”
Why did you decide to go on the Apprenticeship? What benefits did you perceive it would offer you?
Lucy: “My apprenticeship journey began with the desire to expand my project management skillset and I chose to complete this programme to consolidate and build upon my project management experience in order to become a more effective project leader, and to also gain a recognised qualification for my career development.”
Holly: “It was a great opportunity to have some formal Project Management training and to see how that can be applied outside of the specific work we do for any size, shape scale of project. I thought it would offer me the chance to achieve a qualification representative of my knowledge and experience, and a chance to explore different ways of working.”
What parts of the programme did you find the most useful during the apprenticeship?
Lucy: “Throughout the course I have really appreciated the breadth of the learning areas and how I have been able to apply my learning and reflections to my own work within the projects I manage, which has resulted in a positive impact on the projects themselves as well as my own personal development. I have also found it very gratifying to be able to share my learning with my team.”
Holly: “I really enjoyed the theories around teams and leadership and found the some of the new tools for stakeholder mapping and creating schedules really useful.”
What were the challenges that you faced during the apprenticeship?
Lucy: “At times I have found it difficult to balance a part-time study workload with a full-time workload, but with perseverance, commitment and hard work, I am very proud of what I have been able to achieve over the last year, particularly with the high grade I managed to achieve for the APM PMQ exam.”
Holly: “Fitting this in with a full-time job was quite tough, finding the time to complete the reading and written work did prove difficult. It also took a little while to get my head around how some of the tool / techniques could be applied to my role and the types of projects we work on.”
Based on these challenges, can you give any advice to delegates on the apprenticeship?
Lucy: “Be realistic with your time management and complete the learning areas and the responses for the portfolio at regular intervals as the course progresses. Not only does it help you keep on top of the workload, it’s also satisfying to track your progress as the learning gains momentum.”
Holly: “Be sure you want to do this as it does take a level of commitment that can seem a lot but is worth it. Try as much as you can to plan your work across the apprenticeship to allow yourself time to apply and try different methods – don’t leave it all to the end!”
How has the apprenticeship benefited you?
Lucy: “I feel that my knowledge and confidence in project management has growth from my learning throughout the programme. Gaining this qualification has also helped me gain greater recognition from senior management figures and has strengthened my position within the organisation and I hope to capitalise on this growth by working towards another promotion into a more senior position at Signal.”
Holly: “I have a much more structured approach to managing projects and see the value in sometimes taking a step back to ensure project governance is up to date and impacts in terms of change and risk are properly considered and assessed. I feel I’m really well placed as our company continues to grow and the types of work that we are doing develops. It also allows me the flexibility to consider project management across other sectors/businesses in the future.”