Kate Gledhill, an experienced HR professional with a background in banking and finance, and a determination to play an important part in Acorn Stairlifts’ global leadership team, speaks about why she chose the UCQ Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) and what advice she would give to anyone considering doing it.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself Kate
A: I’m what you’d call a mature student! Born and raised in Wharfedale, I spent most of my early career in Leeds, working in Banking and Finance in a variety of HR roles. I completed my CIPD part-time at Leeds Metropolitan University, whilst working initially for Barclays, then GE Capital. I’m now Head of HR for Acorn Mobility Services Ltd, where I have been through a period of huge growth of the business. Outside of work, I live with my husband and son. We have a small holding, with hens and ducks which takes up a fair bit of spare time, but also enjoy walking, travelling and going to watch bands when possible.
Q: Why did you choose to undertake the UCQ CMDA programme?
A: I’ve been in my current role for some time and whilst I hold professional HR qualifications, I had never had the opportunity to do a degree and had not had any formal leadership training. I was investigating different options for upskilling managers within the business as part of our development planning and saw this program, which looked ideal for my needs.
Q: What concerns did you have prior to starting the programme?
A: I was concerned about how I would juggle the demands of my day to day workload with studying, assignments and home life demands. I was also a bit nervous about going back into education after a gap of c 20 years since completing my professional qualifications.
Q: What impact has the UCQ CMDA had upon your performance as a professional manager?
A: It has helped me to take a step back from the day to day work and to reflect more on what I am doing. I am thinking more strategically than I was, and am finding that the theories and models we have covered are helping me think and solve problems differently.
Q: What are your professional aims and ambitions and how do you believe the UCQ CMDA will support you in achieving these?
A: I attend board meetings and work closely with our leadership team every day, which is where I want to be. However, I believe the CMDA program will give me more confidence and deepen my professional knowledge to be able to contribute more effectively in these settings.
Q: How would you say studying with UCQ differs to a conventional university?
A: It is definitely more flexible than a typical academic timetable. We are working in a small cohort, at a really convenient location and the use of on-line resources means that I can pick up reading no matter where I am, provided I’ve got wifi access. This is especially important when I am travelling for work and means I can use my time more effectively. I have also found that the small cohort we are working in has bonded well as a group and are helping each other by bouncing ideas around.
Q: What is your typical study workload, and how do you balance this with work and family commitments?
A: The program is working on a 7-week timetable per module, with 2 full day lectures and other webinars planned in. We have the timetable well in advance, so it’s really a case of planning around it. We know what the assignment deadlines are, so if I have a particularly busy couple of weeks coming up in with work and home commitments, I will make sure I plan ahead, clearing time in my diary to get my studying done during the other weeks.
Q: Please describe the types and level of support you receive from UCQ?
A: Our assessor and the lecturers have been available as and when needed for support with assignments and to advise on what is appropriate for the portfolio. They are easily contactable by email but also use webinars which helps to use time efficiently if you would benefit from a face to face conversation.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone considering doing the UCQ CMDA?
A: Don’t put it off – if you want to develop your knowledge and skills in management, this is an excellent way to do it. The learning is all done in the context of your own role and organisation, so is useful from the word go.
If Kate’s interview has inspired you to apply to join the UCQ CMDA, click here to download an application form, complete and return it to firstname.lastname@example.org and one of the friendly people from our student services team will be touch!