Apprenticeship Levy, Case studies, Project Management

Exam success for Asda Project Management learners

05 August 2021

40 Asda employees have now joined the Corndel Project Management Diploma, a Level 4 apprenticeship programme. The first cohort have excelled in their Project Management Qualification (PMQ), a knowledge-based qualification developed by APM, the chartered body for the project profession. 

We spoke to the lead coach for the Asda learners, Samantha Taylor, to find out how the group has worked together to achieve an impressive 100% pass rate, against a national average of 62%.

Congratulations to your learners. You must be very proud.

Absolutely. They have been brilliant. I’m so proud of their 100% pass rate – and each and every result is so very well deserved. The PMQ exam is not a walk in the park; it’s designed to assess breadth of knowledge in all areas of project management, and covers budgeting and cost management, conflict management, communication, earned value management, leadership, negotiation, procurement, sponsorship and teamwork.

Aside from the incredible amount of hard work from the learners, what supported this exam success?

There are a number of ways in which Corndel was able to support the learners through the programme assessment, which I know were greatly appreciated.

  • Plenty of practice! Some of the learners hadn’t sat an exam since school and it definitely pushed them out of their comfort zone. We had been working together for a year, applying new skills as they progressed through the course, so it was less about the knowledge itself and more about exam technique and confidence. In the PMQ exam, candidates have to select 10 out of 16 questions to answer. Making the right choices about what to answer and being able to manage time effectively during the exam were critical. I made sure each learner had plenty of opportunities to do mock papers so that on the day they were confident in their approach.
  • Personalised feedback. During the programme, I had built a strong rapport with each learner, so when it came to End Point Assessment (EPA), I was able to give tailored, one-to-one feedback, based on a deep understanding of their roles, strengths and areas to develop. They are so open to new ways of working and had become adept at asking for and taking on board feedback that would help them not only excel in the exam, but become confident in using these new skills in their day-to-day work and projects.
  • Buddying system. They were a wonderful group that really supported ,challenged and encouraged one another. The teamwork element of a closed group cohort such as this should not be underestimated. I set up a buddying system and established a WhatsApp group to facilitate collaboration. I encouraged them to use this framework to practice team work and leadership skills by asking them to take responsibility for their own learning; agreeing as a group what extra support they wanted me to provide.
  • Optional extra group sessions. I gave them a few options of areas that I thought they would benefit from revisiting. As a group they came back with some further suggestions and from there we put together a series of optional extra sessions to support their EPA preparation. Their commitment from start to end was truly admirable, and all members of the group participated in the extra sessions.

Learner feedback

“I started a new role in Asda at the same time as starting this course. I now have a lot more confidence in my new role, and the course has given me the confidence to challenge and have an opinion on how projects are run. I’ve also grown in confidence in identifying elements of project management that are being used across the organisation and whether they would be beneficial for my ways of working, so I can continually improve the way I work day-to-day. It has also highlighted some of my own personal strengths that I had been taking for granted, such as having lots of leadership experience and being a strong communicator, both skills and behaviours needed to lead a project team.”

Charlotte Gidney

“My leadership style has benefited significantly, and my communication and stakeholder management has also progressed enormously. This is one area of 360 feedback that my line managers had called out and I believe it to be one of the reasons I was promoted. I had often received positive feedback that I had proven myself in terms of technical knowledge and project delivery. The main opportunity for me to develop was behavioural – being a great leader, being strategic. This apprenticeship has helped me with my job by making me much more aware of some theories, models, tools and techniques. It has also helped me not just with project governance but with stakeholder management and communication – identifying and analysing stakeholder needs in terms of power-interest-attitude has helped me progress in developing my communications strategy.”

Rachel Guntrip

“I have learnt to ask for support a lot more when there is a gap in my knowledge and to seek further education in all areas of the business. In terms of skills, I now have a lot more data-based knowledge and experience from tracking to analysis. My experience on data science and reporting has been improved over the last 12 months and this is supporting my lead role in data. Time management has been a big learning for me over the last year and how to better manage my diary with the use of virtual teams and delegation.”

Adam Roberts

“I’ve got a promotion at work from C8 Project Leader (Junior Project Manager) to C10 Project Manager in a new team. In the interview process I was asked how I had developed my skills since I had started and why I was ready to move into the senior role and I feel like the apprenticeship directly helped me secure the position.”

Raven Blackburn

Find out more about the Corndel Project Management Diploma
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