10 sector leaders on the benefits of a senior leadership degree apprenticeship

An increasing number of managers are turning to senior leadership degree apprenticeships at the University of Gloucestershire to develop their careers and drive their businesses. Here’s why.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published

No matter what sector you’re in, if you are moving into a management role or in one already, a senior leadership management degree apprenticeship (SLMDA) is aimed at you – and with Government funding, it is more than likely paid for too.

Described as ‘a highly engaging programme that combines personal learning and development with team-based peer learning and support’, expect the Level 7 work-based course to take two years, with an additional six-month project to achieve an MBA, with no additional cost to the employer.

Here are just some of the comments from recent graduates who have taken on the challenge.

Helen Chu, community and charity manager at Gloucester Rugby

‘I really enjoyed completing the MBA despite the pressure of working full time, through a pandemic. I enjoyed being able to apply what I was learning to real life practice, and it enabled me to have a much better understanding and knowledge base.

‘It was a great learning environment as my peers were from a variety of different industries, and we were all able to support each other and share experiences.

‘The comradery was fantastic and kept us going, even when it was tough going fitting everything in. The support from the academic staff was great as well as they understood the work pressures we faced.’

Ryan Venner, former Swindon Town FC footballer, now director of Premier Jobs UK in Swindon

‘It was not easy by any stretch, but I am so glad I did it. The skills I have come away with are fantastic. Leadership development was a big part of the course, and the last two years have put the importance of that into focus for a lot of people.

‘One of the benefits of being on a leadership course is there were no shrinking violets, and everyone put themselves forward and contributed. It was a really beneficial forum.

‘I am now in the process of sending other members of our team on the course as the benefits to the business and the individuals are potentially huge.’

Lynette Barrett, chief executive officer of Gloucestershire’s National Star

‘As chief operating officer I made the decision that I would undertake the SLMDA to enhance my prior knowledge and prepare for future career opportunities. Learning at this level was challenging for me as I had not studied at this level previously.

‘The apprenticeship and masters gave me a greater theoretical understanding relevant to senior leadership through various subject areas.

‘This has benefited me by underpinning my practice and broadening my knowledge in areas that sat outside of my expertise. The shared experience with fellow students helped everyone to remain motivated, supporting each other if the challenge felt too great.

‘Overall, the hard work paid off. The qualification gave me a greater sense of professional confidence that both my employer and I benefit from.’

Kevin Pope, group managing director of Gloucester-based Protrack Solutions Limited and BioStart Security

‘As a child I left school with very little academic education and joined the army at the age of 17 so I had no real business academia to fall back on as the MD of Protrack Solutions Limited.

‘I am at the head of a fast-growing business in Gloucestershire and being at the forefront of innovation, I wanted to ensure that when leading my staff, I actually knew what I was doing and learned the correct methods to do so, it was at this point that an opportunity arose for an apprenticeship at the University of Gloucestershire for an MBA.

‘The course has really helped me and the modules were a perfect match for my business.’

Jenny McLoughlin, finance director at Cheltenham-based McLoughlin Planning Ltd

‘It has been a long-standing ambition to complete an MBA and seeing it available locally at the University of Gloucestershire has been a huge bonus. The fact that it is coupled with the senior leader apprentice qualification which is accredited by the Chartered Management Institute adds even more value to the course.

‘There is the theory side, taught in the university and researched as part of our assignments, but also the application of the theory in terms of the apprenticeship side. This application of the theory is already having an impact on my organisation, and I am excited about the opportunities I can see it will give me in the coming years.

‘The teaching staff at UoG are excellent. I was nervous about returning to ‘school’ after so long, but they make it easy and treat us all as colleagues, not students.’

Daniel Bridges, the chief technology officer for Cheltenham-based financial services firm Attivo Group

‘The lecturers are the MBA’s ‘secret sauce’, they are so supportive. I got married, renovated a house and ran a start-up business all while completing my MBA. Without my fellow students and the tutors, it could have been a very different outcome.

‘I wouldn’t be where I am today without my MBA. I’ve always had the drive, determination and intelligence – now I have the confidence, knowledge and skills as well.’

Leonie Burton, head of client relations for the business engagement team at the University of Gloucestershire

‘I found the breadth of subjects invaluable for my role at the university. In addition to the expertise of the academics, the learning that I gained through working with others on my apprenticeship, who came from quite different sectors to me, proved so helpful.

‘For example, I undertook my studies during the pandemic which impacted on work enormously, so we were able to share ideas and support one another.

‘The encouragement of my colleagues has been amazing, and this culminated in a fantastic graduation day at Cheltenham Racecourse where the hard work paid off. I can thoroughly recommend the experience to others who might be thinking of taking an apprenticeship to gain a qualification.’

James Partridge, of design, engineering and project management consultancy, Atkins

‘The course has been an incredible opportunity that has surpassed my expectations

‘Having not gone to university after school and having joined Superdry via the apprenticeship route, this was the perfect opportunity for me to earn and progress professionally and get a degree qualification all at the same time.

‘What’s great about the course is that is has a variety of modules which all relate back to your job role and the business. Additionally, it has led to me speaking to lots of different people across the business to gain extra knowledge, which I can apply to my assignments.’

Dr Georgios Chatzakis, consultant radiologist at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

‘This apprenticeship allowed me to acquire valuable skills and experience in my sector, and also improved my CV and employability in case I would like to do something else, outside NHS in the future.

‘It was really nice that I was able to learn in my work environment, especially during the Covid pandemic, developing some practical skills and understanding, but also networking. I need to excel in my role as specialty director for radiology in our county.’

Lauren O’Sullivan, head of league operations, for the women’s professional game for The FA Group

‘As a senior leader in the football industry, I can confidently say the SLMDA with University of Gloucestershire has provided a really valuable and relevant professional development opportunity for me.

‘I’m enjoying the diversity of modules and learning, being stretched and challenged, as well as the opportunity to network with peers on the course from different backgrounds and industries, and the opportunity to apply what I’m learning to my day-to-day work.

‘I’m looking forward to starting my dissertation on a topic I’m passionate about and using the findings/recommendations to help improve our work and our impact. I would strongly recommend the course.’

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