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Organisational and Professional Development

Apprenticeship Case Studies

The following case studies are taken from existing Queen Mary staff who either chose to study for an apprenticeship and develop their skills, or to mentor and support colleagues while they worked towards their apprenticeship qualifications.


Alex Challis

Rebecca Wildman

Liyanage Kosala Wickramasekara

Aysha Bismillah 

Henrik Brogger

Bhagirathi Shah 

Lorna Ireland

Mentors, Managers and Champions

Claire Marchant

Panny Martin

If you are an apprentice or mentor and would like to share your experiences, please contact Staff Apprenticeships Lead Esmay Bear.

Photograph of Alex ChallisName: Alex Challis 

Job title: Business Analyst - Research, Enterprise and Partnerships

Apprenticeship Business Analyst Level 4  

How did you find out about the apprenticeship opportunity? 

I was looking to upskill my business analyst skills through undertaking a series of professional qualifications and was told at a training provider open evening that I could be able to get these qualifications paid for by QMUL via the apprenticeship levy. I inquired with the Degree Apprenticeship Manager at the time and the rest is history! 

Why did you want to do an apprenticeship? 

I have always enjoyed learning and wanting to upskill in what job role I have undertaken and in knowing that the option was available to me, wanting to do an apprenticeship was an easy decision to make; especially for the field of work that I am currently working in. The ability to obtain a formal qualification and to develop new and existing skills and techniques as part of my current role is a real benefit and one of the main reasons that I took the opportunity. 

What support have you received during your apprenticeship? 

I am lucky to have been supported by my manager, Sharon Ellis, who has helped in allowing me to cut my working week from 5 to 4 days, with the free day being used for apprenticeship work. I am also allowed the flexibility to build any formal training around my current role. I also have support from an external mentor who has been allocated to me by the training provider, who has over 20 years' experience conducting Business Analysis in a variety of private sector organisations. I meet them every 2 weeks and they provide guidance and feedback on apprenticeship work and training I am completing, which I find extremely valuable. 

What are the best parts of being an apprentice? 

  1. Getting back to education and learning.
  2. Knowing that you are working towards a formal qualification that will hopefully lead to more effective ways of working and in turn better prospects in current and in future employment.
  3. Knowing that Queen Mary values my career development by investing in my future.

How does the 20% off-the-job learning work for you? 

The 20% off-the-job learning works well for the most if you plan accordingly. This is easy to do when formal training by the training provider is offered, but can get a little difficult on occasion when you have conflicting deadlines and a heavy workload. 

How will / how has the apprenticeship benefited your career?  

The apprenticeship has benefited me by providing a structured approach to learning and development in Business Analysis, and in generating my confidence that I can have a successful career in the field.  

What advice would you give anyone thinking of completing an apprenticeship? 

Talk to people who have done or are doing one. Get a sense of the work involved and whether you believe that your line manager could support you to make an application. Think about the subject area of the apprenticeship and how it relates to your current role. Take the time to think if completing an apprenticeship is right for you. 

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Photograph of Rebecca WildmanName: Becky Wildman 

Job title: Deputy Head of Admissions (Postgraduate)  

Apprenticeship: Senior Leader Level 7 

How did you find out about the apprenticeship opportunity? 

I was told about the apprenticeship opportunity via the CPD and Business School teams at my previous employer. I attended an information session with the programme director and Iwas sold on the idea! 

Why did you want to do an apprenticeship? 

I had a background in humanities, rather than business, and I had been managing for a few years, with a specific career direction in mind. I also liked the idea of being able to put theory into practice to make an impact in my day-to-day job. 

Have there been any challenges? How have you overcome these? 

I started my apprenticeship in January 2020, right before the COVID pandemic, so we only had 2 sessions in person as a cohort before we moved to online learning. The Business School were fantastic in handling what must have been a difficult transition and making it as seamless as possible. The cohort seem to have really gelled together anyway and have been really supportive of each other. I've been lucky in that my colleagues have also been really supportive when I need time off for lectures etc. In my particular academic programme, the written assessments that we have been required to produce are very different from my previous BA and MA, in that they are reports and case studies, rather than essays as such, so adjusting to that was tricky at first, but there is plenty of good guidance available on different writing style. I also changed employers right before my work-based management project was due, so I had to re-write it, which was challenging, but a good way to get started in my new job. 

What support have you received during your apprenticeship? 

I feel like a lot of people have been very supportive during my apprenticeships, including the programme team, my line managers, my mentors, colleagues, and fellow apprentices. I actually got a new job halfway through the apprenticeship, and the academic and programmes teams across the two employers worked so well to make the transition as easy as possible for me. 

What are the best parts of being an apprentice? 

I like being able to put the theory into practice straight away, and also realising how the theory may or may not have worked in your past experiences. I also enjoy the support of awork based mentor, which has been great as a way to get settled into my new job and build a new working relationship. I have also enjoyed planning my work-based management project to ensure that it will have the most impact in terms of my role and organisation. 

How does the 20% off-the-job learning work for you? 

I'm currently doing a Senior Leader Master's Degree Apprenticeship, which has been a challenge as people at that level have a lot of demands on their time anyway, in addition to the academic part of the apprenticeship. Trying to find the 20% off the job time has been challenging, whilst balancing the demands of my job as well, so I have tried to identify and record opportunities in my day-to-day job that I know will help meet the apprenticeship standards. I have also made use of the 20% off the job to have meetings or to find materials in relation to my apprenticeship.  

How will / how has the apprenticeship benefited your career?  

I was offered a new job halfway through the apprenticeship, which represents a promotion for me, so it has already benefited me! 

What advice would you give anyone thinking of completing an apprenticeship? 

Make sure that you have the necessary support in place throughout the apprenticeship, both inside and outside of work to get you through! Work with your line manager/supervisor and work-based mentor to look at the apprenticeship standards and behaviours and break them down into tasks or responsibilities that you currently have or think that you might be take on. 

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Photograph of Liyanage Kosala WickramasekaraName: Liyanage Kosala Wickramasekara 

Job Title: Information Security Officer 

Apprenticeship: Digital and Technology Solutions Specialist Level 7 (Integrated Degree)  

How did you find out about the apprenticeship opportunity? 

Through a presentation at the Professional Services Conference. 

Why did you want to do an apprenticeship? 

To upskill.

Have there been any challenges? How have you overcome these? 

It was challenging to meet work and family commitments, and to meet the deadlines and balance the workload of the apprenticeship. I did get amazing support from my family and teammates. I had to sacrifice some activities and use some of my free time to meet the assessment submissions. 

What support have you received during your apprenticeship? 

I have received support from my head of department and line manager by giving me the time and opportunity to engage in the required training. I have been given the opportunity to participate in a senior working group to gain the required experience. My mentor was supportive and kept a continues monitoring of my progress. 

What are the best parts of being an apprentice? 

It was the 20% off-the-job learning. This is the best gift you can get: to learn while working. 

How will / how has the apprenticeship benefited your career?  

I have managed to secure a new role with a progression into a higher grade. 

What advice would you give anyone thinking of completing an apprenticeship? 

It is the best opportunity to improve your career progression.

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Name: Aysha Bismillah 

Job Title: Undergraduate Administrator- Quality Assurance 

Apprenticeship: Chartered Manager (Degree) Level 6 Apprenticeship 

"I am going into a more senior role as Senior Examinations Officer and will be managing 3 people. My degree apprenticeship has certainly helped me get into this role. I have learnt so much about managing styles and the apprenticeship has particularly helped me to practice what I have learnt in my work. The training has also given me so much confidence going into this new role, as I have been able to learn from my own and other apprentice's experiences.

"I look forward to completing the programme, and thank the staff Apprenticeships team at QMUL for this amazing opportunity!"

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Name: Claire Marchant 

Job Title: Operations Manager - Mile End 

Apprenticeship Role: Mentor to a number of apprentices in Estates and Facilities. 

Why did you choose to be a mentor for an apprentice? 

The field they need more development in, to advance their career, is a field I have over 20 years' experience in, so I can support them. Also as a line manager, I can support them with finding resources they need or departments they need to spend time with. 

What have been the challenges of mentoring an apprentice? 

If an apprentice goes to college it can be difficult at times to get instant updates on where the apprentice is with course work, passing exams etc. If the apprentice is doing work via an online system this is much better, and I have regular catch ups with the tutor. 

What have you gained personally from mentoring an apprentice? 

Pride in helping members of staff gain knowledge and hopefully qualifications to help them advance their career. 

Why would you recommend being a mentor for an apprentice? 

It is very rewarding, and what you invest in an apprentice, you can expect to get back with the skills they have gained. 

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Name: Henrik Brogger

Job title: Head of Service Operations, IT

Apprenticeship Senior Leader Level 7  

I am very excited to have graduated with a Master in Management.

The journey began almost three years ago when I joined the Apprenticeship scheme level 7 Senior Management and decided to study at Birkbeck, University of London. It was not without trepidation as it's been a while since I undertook academic studies. It turned out to be three very challenging years, not just for us as students but in Higher Education generally as we faced the pandemic, and as I continued working alongside studies. Today I am eternally grateful for the opportunity and the experience.

I am so thankful and overwhelmed to be awarded a distinction - Was worth the long hours and hard work!

To lifelong opportunities of study and learning! 

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Name: Bhagirathi Shah
Job Title: EDI Workforce Analyst
Apprenticeship: Data analyst Level 4

How did you find out about the apprenticeship opportunity?

I started the apprenticeship when I was in my previous role at another organisation, the head of my team at the time had passed on the opportunity to me, and transferred it to Queen Mary when I started my role here.

Why did you want to do an apprenticeship? 

I don't have a background in data and haven't done any qualifications or data-specific training, a lot of what I have learnt was on the job. I thought the apprenticeship would be a great way to upskill myself and learn key topics in data like coding, have a certification related to my career ambitions and being able to apply my learning to real-life work was also a bonus and appealing to me, as it is my preferred way of learning.

Have there been any challenges? How have you overcome these? 

In my last role, I found it difficult initially to fit in learning for the apprenticeship around my role. My apprenticeship tutor helped me to create a learning plan with estimated hours each piece of learning would take so I could have productive conversations with my manager in how to fit it in amongst other priorities.

What support have you received during your apprenticeship? 

I've had a lot of support from my apprenticeship tutor. Some of the topics have been very new to me and I've found them quite difficult to understand from attending only the workshops but my tutor has always been open to explaining them and going over them again in 1:1s.

What are the best parts of being an apprentice? 

Being able to learn something new and practice the learning too, which really helps me to solidify my understanding. I'm really grateful for the opportunity to upskill and learn new things that will help me advance my career.

How does the Off-the-job learning work for you?

This time goes towards online workshops delivered by the apprenticeship provider, reading on key topics and working on work-based projects.

How will / how has the apprenticeship benefited your career? Do you have career progression plans / hopes?

The apprenticeship is teaching me new skills in things like coding and analysis, which are key to working in data and advancing my career in the field.

What advice would you give anyone thinking of completing an apprenticeship?

Being absolutely honest, it is a challenge; you'll be learning a lot of new skills and techniques relevant in your apprenticeship, sometimes things you've not learnt before, but the practical nature of apprenticeships means you really get to learn how the skill is applied to your job and practice the skills as you learn, so it feels relevant.

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Name: Lorna Ireland
Job Title:
School Manager
Apprenticeship Role:
The line manager of an apprentice

What benefit does the apprenticeship offer your team and any skills gaps?

The apprenticeship provides an opportunity for our skilled staff to impart some of their knowledge and experience. It also provides resource to help take forward operational tasks

How do you find the Off-the-job learning element in practice?

There is no adverse impact on the 'on the job' element (as in the study days can be easily fit in around work).

What are the best parts of managing an apprentice?

Nurturing someone and watching their growth and development

Why would you recommend apprenticeships?

You can achieve a qualification at the same time as being in paid work. This model gives you the opportunity to make and learn from mistakes within a controlled environment.

Are there any challenges? How are they overcome?

For the apprentice - the challenge is having a disciplined approach to be able to balance work and study priorities.  Regular 1-2-1 with their line manager, a planned programme of study and approved study leave days would help.

For the line manager - the challenge is to be mindful of the level that the apprentice is employed at and not to overload the apprentice with work above the expected grade (despite capability). There is also the impact on time for supporting, guiding and mentoring. To help with this the appointment of the apprentice should be planned in line with ongoing priorities and a 'buddy' assigned to help with day-to-day queries

What advice would you give any managers considering recruiting or supporting an apprentice?

Definitely worth investing in!

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Name: Panny Martin
Job Title: Head of Directorate Support and Improvement
Apprenticeship Role: Apprentice Champion

I would recommend apprenticeships to Queen Mary University due to my own experience in the recruitment process of the first two apprenticeships to our directorate. The programme was fairly new to the University and it was beneficial as a directorate being part of the recruitment process.

The early engagement with the local college supported the assurances that the apprentices were following the correct pathway and we could see that the apprentices working with Estates and Facilities in our Maintenance service would both benefit the apprentice as well as the University.

As a directorate, we have further engaged with the programme and can see in so many different areas across the directorate how this learning pathway can be advantageous to continuous learning.

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