Caroline Morgan has worked at the NSPCC for over 8 years. Now, leading a team of Community Fundraisers, Caroline decided it was time to take her next step in her professional and personal development journey so joined the Imperial College and Corndel Executive Development Level 7 apprenticeship programme. Already four months into her apprenticeship, Caroline tells us exactly what prompted her to join the programme and the impact she is already seeing:
Can you tell me a little bit about your current role and any management responsibilities you have?
As the NSPCC Supporter Fundraising Manager for the Midlands, I directly manage a team of three community fundraisers who support local volunteers to fundraise and raise awareness of NSPCC throughout the vast and exciting Midlands region. Therefore, I am responsible for all aspects of line management for my direct reports and have a responsibility for the many volunteers we represent. My role is also about maximising the organisational efficiency of a region, a key element being to facilitate effective communication between teams, within and beyond fundraising, to ensure the most effective use of resources. The Corndel programme has been so useful as it recognises that leadership roles can vary greatly, one leader may have direct reports another may utilise matrix management. My role has both and is about relationship building, communicating with all levels of stakeholder and uniting internal teams for a common purpose, all of which requires a different set of skills to those considered ‘traditional leadership’ methods.
What prompted you to join the programme?
Progression into my current role prompted me to join the programme and I am always keen to learn, improve and move forward. I knew I wanted a programme that would test me and push me out of my comfort zone, a course that would stretch me whilst being practically beneficial to my day-to-day role and would award me a very worthwhile qualification at the end.
Are you doing anything differently as a result of the programme?
Each of the modules offers something practical and I am already applying the learnings in my work. We have covered so much useful content like coaching techniques, giving constructive feedback, leading high performing teams, delegation and much more.
These skills are needed but are rarely taught to leaders, so this helps me build them into my daily work life.
The programme also encapsulates wider learning such as organisational values, culture and purpose and theories of management and leadership. Studying these on the programme has given me confidence and has validated what I believed; that leadership doesn’t need to be hierarchical, where managers tell people what to do. I also found out that leaders can be introverts or extroverts.
Leadership is about being authentic, inclusive, building trust and having emotional intelligence – it is reassuring to me that Corndel and Imperial value these strengths as much as I do.
What are you most proud of achieving so far?
I am most proud that as a 50 something, and thinking I was too old to do an apprenticeship, I did it anyway! And I am proud that I am keeping up with the pace of the course and that my tutor seems happy with my progress.
To go back to studying after decades out of education, to be evaluated and measured, to put yourself out there in this way, is exciting and also a challenge. Plus, the workload is fast paced and testing but worth it when you complete your assignments and know you are on track.
What are the benefits of having one-to-one coaching throughout the programme?
How have you managed your work-life balance whilst being on the programme – did Corndel help you with this?
Corndel have done everything possible to support us in our learning, hosting extra sessions for us if we need to catch up, giving us a 121 tutor dedicated to our success; plus the learning itself is structured in such a way that I do not find myself reading pages of text for hours and hours – there are videos, Ted talks, masterclasses with inspiring speakers and the assignments themselves lean heavily on day to day experience and examples.
Taking on a Level 7 programme is going to mean extra work, it is the equivalent to a Master’s degree on top of a full time job and should not be entered into lightly, dedicated time and focus is needed. I have a supportive organisation and manager who understand this is a worthwhile undertaking and my study can be completed during the working week if I want.
Corndel advise at the start to expect to be spending 3 hours per week but that the learning leans heavily on what you are doing at work anyway and I would agree with this. As my tutor rightly said I am a “binge-learner” and tend to complete chunks of work at a time whereas others assign time each week and complete their work that way. Whichever way works for you and your work is fine and you will be supported on the programme. I have enjoyed the subject matter it is definitely not boring, and you know the result will be a valued qualification from top providers.
How would you sum up your experience so far?
My experience has been overwhelmingly positive – the programme is well organised, supportive, practical yet thought provoking and testing. I know I am completing a highly sought after and well renowned programme and feel very lucky. The programme content is genuinely useful; it’s not just about the final result for me, I am looking forward to the rest of the journey.
The programme has had a profound effect, prompting me to consider my skills and leadership style in a positive and useful way.
Would you recommend the programme to your peers in the sector?
Absolutely, no questions asked. Go into it with eyes wide open, make sure it is the right time for you and that you have the headspace and willingness to commit to it. I would also discuss with the person in your organisation who runs apprenticeship programmes to understand more about the programme and options available.
If it is the right time for you, if you want to learn and grow and enhance your leadership skills to enable you to be the best leader you can be – I would say don’t hesitate!