Georgie's Story: 'How a degree apprenticeship is helping me become a better leader’


A godsend for procrastinators, perfectionists, and everyone in between, the Pomodoro Technique suggests tackling work tasks in 25-minute intervals, separated by short breaks. It’s often in those little breaks, the method suggests, that inspiration can strike. 

‘I’d always called it a Jelly Tot moment,’ says Arden University apprentice Georgie. 

‘One day while I was at work I was struggling with a problem, and I thought: “I've had enough of this now.” Someone said to me, “Georgie have some jelly tots,” because I live off sweet things. So, I stood there with a packet of jelly tots in my hand and suddenly… I knew the answer.’ 

Georgie, who recently learned the technical term for her Jelly Tot moments, is studying for a Level 6 Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship in Business Management and is finding these lessons about time management invaluable.

Not only is she now learning about how to better manage her own time, but in being able to better understand techniques such as Pomodoro, why they work, and how they’re helpful for others around her, she is adding a layer of confidence to her communication, which is developing her as a leader. 

Georgie, who has been a store manager with Poundland for nine years now, has proudly worked in retail for most of her adult life. 

‘I really enjoy being in a store; that fast-paced challenge; that interaction on the shop floor with the customers, with my staff and with my team.’ 

Having finished school and college, Georgie got married aged 19. Her partner was a soldier so, as she points out, there was a lot of travelling around in her youth, including a stint working in Germany.

She found herself working wherever she went but, in terms of studying for a degree, life kept having a habit of getting in the way. 

‘Retail was an easy job to move from store-to-store and country to country, there were transferrable skills that you could pick up when settling in a new country.’

‘My plan before wasn't getting married, it wasn't having kids – I was going to do a degree. Then I met my husband, got married, had our kids, and the rest is history. Until now there's never been an opportunity to study because of finances and our moving around.’

Throughout her time as a store manager, however, Georgie never lost her love of reading or her love of learning. Nor did she lose any sight of her ambition to develop herself through education. Having flown through every development course the company put her way, it was eventually suggested to her to consider the possibility of a degree apprenticeship. 

The opportunity appealed to her and even though she was excited to get started she still felt a little nervous to dive back into formal education.

‘The initial thing that put my mind at ease was the one-to-one with the Arden representative. I was able to explain that I haven't done critical writing, referencing, or structuring an essay since I was at college, which was many moons ago. I didn't honestly know if I could do it and fit it in around working.’

‘He explained the process of it – how it was online and how the lessons were flexible. If you couldn't make a certain appointment, you can watch it back and catch up. He explained there was additional support for critical writing, for academic writing, and for getting everything to a university standard. If that hadn't happened, I don't think I would have taken on the course.’


Georgie’s course is aimed at first time or aspiring managers, as well as existing managers who have workplace management experience but limited formal training. Across a Business Management degree, designed to help them build and develop the skills required to be a successful manager, apprentices are provided with knowledge of key and cross-functional business and management disciplines while they continue to work in their current role.

Paul Heppell is Poundland's Apprenticeship Manager:

'At Poundland we are extremely passionate about investing in our colleagues and developing future leaders. Back in 2020 we were on the search for a Degree apprenticeship provider to support us with our Senior Leadership development strategy. It quickly became clear that Arden University were the Provider for us, strong reputation, established Provider, experienced coaches and their blended and flexible approach to learning suited our fast paced environment.'

'They have a great infrastructure and account management team, nothing is too much trouble and their collaborative approach in supporting us with our wider apprenticeship and L&D Strategy has been invaluable.'

Studying for a degree in combination with work-based learning means that most apprentices will not only find themselves learning new things and developing their core skills; they’ll also find themselves continually applying their knowledge directly to their organisation. 

‘As a store manager I think you get very, very tied into your store,’ says Georgie.

‘You don't actually realise why decisions are made.’

‘This course has given me a greater understanding of why our labour hours might have been cut, or why we put products in a certain place.'

'Previously I would have just done what I was asked to do – but now I understand that we have different sources of revenue. For me before it was always just money in the till.’

Georgie’s development since starting on the course has been clear to see for those in contact with her. As part of all Arden’s courses, students are assigned an individual Success Coach – someone to guide them through university from enrolment to graduation. When asked about Georgie’s story, her coach had this to say:  

‘Georgie is so positive she is a pleasure to speak with every month. She is putting her learning from her Masterclasses into her management job role, for example she is listening to her team more and getting feedback from them which will help building a stronger team going forward.'

'She is always doing extra, and is an overall lovely and inspirational person.’ 


Georgie has also noticed developments in herself as she progresses through her studies, and already has high hopes for where it might hopefully take her. 

‘I think my confidence as a manager, and as a leader, has grown massively since doing this course. Just my understanding of the business, of the terminology, and the bigger business landscape. I would definitely advise people take this on. It’s given me a much clearer view of our company moving forward.’

‘I'm also hoping it takes me to the next level within Poundland, which is area manager.’

As well as combining working and studying, Georgie also has a busy family life, although she says it’s not as hectic as it used to be now her three children are all adults. Her daughter is currently also studying at university, and Georgie is enjoying being able to share the experience with her. 

‘It’s absolutely amazing. When I'm struggling with referencing and citations or something, she will be able to help me and I think she's also found it really helpful to be able to come round and speak to me about my course as well. It’s helpful to have somebody so close to be able to bounce ideas off.’

Having her family support while she is studying has also been really important for Georgie, especially from her husband. 

‘At first, my husband was like “Don't take on too much.” But now he’s seeing me complete it and when I submitted something the other week he was really chuffed. He said to me how he was really, really proud of how I handled it’. So that was a massive boost for me.

Normally we laugh and joke about things, but we're not always saying “Oh, I’m proud of you.” So, to get that acknowledgement from him last week was great.’ 

Having achieved so much already, hopefully Georgie can find a moment to reflect on what she’s done so far and be similarly proud of herself. Who knows, she may even allow herself a pack of Jelly Tots while she does. 

To find out more about Arden University's degree apprenticeships click here

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