<> How a Degree Apprenticeship is helping me improve as a leader | Arden University

How a Degree Apprenticeship is helping me improve as a leader


We caught up with Aadil, one of our amazing degree apprenticeship students, who is working in the NHS at Barts Health. 

Combining a full time job with his studies, you can read more about the changes Aadil has already found to his leadership style, as well as his hopes for the future below. 

Hi Aadil, what are you studying?

Hi, I'm in the first year of the Senior Leaders MBA programme – a Master's level programme that looks at leadership and management from a strategic perspective. So, that involves looking at how an organisation manages in a competitive environment, and the types of leadership and management strategies you need to implement to be able to be successful in that environment.

What sort of things have you been enjoying studying?

It's been quite an experience. I've learned how to critically analyse things and decipher key information in order to fully understand how to create a project plan and project reports.

I've currently done two modules so far, which were Business and Personal Transformation and Ethical Leadership. The one I'm currently working on is Managing in a Competitive Environment.

But it's been really interesting to look at case studies alongside a theoretical concept of how businesses work and how micro market and macro markets needs to be interpreted to be successful in that business.

I work in the public sector, but it's really interesting that, although we are government funded, there's other streams of revenue that we need to look at to be able to keep us successful in what we're trying to do. So, it's been really interesting because again, the theoretical understanding of how leadership management and businesses work can then be reapplied to a practical element of it.

Obviously as a degree apprenticeship it means you combine it with working? Where do you work and what do you do?

I work in Barts Health as a Senior Learning and Development facilitator for Technologies and Projects.

So, I'm based within the Education Academy of the organisation, but my role is predominantly teaching leadership management training and also leading on projects around how to develop teams and technology within the organisation.

What was it that led you to want to do this degree?

My colleague, Kevin, who's our apprenticeship manager, he's one of the people that really got me into understanding what opportunities there are with the apprenticeships.

I'd initially started with the CMDA, the chartered managers degree apprenticeship. I felt it was tough to do because I had a work/life balance that I had to manage really well.

I'm married, I'd got one child at that particular time (now I've got two), so it was difficult managing that, but I still aspired to become a better individual.

So, one of the things that I was looking to do was develop my own academic understanding about how businesses work, as well as how leadership and management is structured, not just in the public sector, but outside of it as well.

Speaking with Kevin gave me a really good insight into what was available, and he spoke positively about Arden, and the content of what Arden was covering. I felt it was really interesting and a great opportunity for me to build my own personal understanding and develop my own role.

I was able to get a good overall understanding about how strategies work and how you need to engage different stakeholders to be able to influence and change make changes within the organisation. So, I think it was really important for me to begin with my CMDA with another establishment, but Kevin was then able to show me that there was another pathway to really build my knowledge skills experience by doing this senior leaders apprenticeship.

My manager Sandra Brighton also was crucial when deciding to go for this or not, when we discussed about the PDP she wanted me to recognise the KSB’s and how I could demonstrate this throughout my two years, if there were any gaps she suggested we look at what how we could meet this, which gave me the confidence that I was being supported both inside and outside of work.

What do you hope that the degree will do for you?

There's a couple of things that I was really interested in. One is around career development. The next position that I want to take would involve influencing and changing strategies or being part of projects. So, I wanted to make sure I had a key understanding about how that works.

Also, thinking about the bigger picture, it’s really important for me to think about my next move from a career perspective and I think this qualification and experience will allow me to fit in a more senior leadership role.

From my current role, I think there's a lot of things I'm already influencing and changing.

So, I currently work on projects with different teams where we're looking to reinforce a better culture, and allow better leadership and management structures within that. I'm able to mentor our upcoming clinical and non-clinical managers within the hospital environment. And I do this through our internal qualification that we offer, which is through Ilm. But I also allow the team to develop.

How have you found the experience of studying with Arden?

The tutor and the coach are amazing. It's been a great experience during the masterclasses, because I think that conversations that we're having, whether it's peer-to-peer learning or whether it's the tutors sharing their experiences, it has been really, really interesting.

I think the USP for Arden at this moment in time is the academic support you get. So, alongside the tutors and the coaches you have academic development available. So, when I struggled with Harvard referencing, I was able to go to workshops, I was able to contact academic tutors, who could then give me advice about how I've structured my assignments. So the advice and support that we were given was quite was really, really good.

There have been some glitches with the online systems though, and I think that that's what needs to be improved, but I think that's what the team is looking at improving.

How do you manage to balance your time with studying, where do you find the time to study?

I think it's really important to have a good relationship and understanding with your team and manager to establish when you are looking to allocate protected time to be able to either do some revision or to have a look at your lesson plans.

I work Monday to Thursday, and my manager is really supportive. I've agreed that I will have an hour in the morning. So this is generally when I come in, around 06:30, and because it's quiet and there's no one in the office, it really helps me to focus and make notes and do whatever I need to.

Then the second hour would be towards the end of the day. So, in the afternoon, I will take an hour out whether this is to add things to my assignments, whether this is to build my competencies for my apprenticeship, or it may just be having conversations with people that to get their understanding and their views on things.

What I've tried to do workwise is have a clear, transparent system with my management and team so they know exactly when I can look at my apprenticeship.

At home, my wife has been amazing. She's been really, really supportive. I try to allocate some time where I'll come home and spend time with the kids, but then towards the end of the night, just before we go to bed, I will then allocate some time where I can sit down and decipher some of that information.

It's been tough. It's a full-on job and it's difficult. But I think the pleasure is worth the pain. I think getting the knowledge and skills and development and the way I feel like I've grown as an individual has really supported me in pursuing this. Because I think that there have been times throughout when I started the course where I’ve thought “Is it really worth it?” But then, when you look at the results you get for assignments, or when you look at the experience that you've got, and you can implement that into your work, I think that is quite rewarding. And I think that allows you to keep going.

What is it that keeps you motivated to keep going?

I think it’s that commitment to myself. Although I have said the main reasons for doing this is so I can progress academically and career wise, I think it's also that commitment I've given to myself that I want to develop, I want to be the best that I could be.

I enjoy my job and I feel I am really blessed and privileged to be in an organisation that supports me, my family understand my situation and are compassionate towards me and colleagues that really look out for each other, this motivates me to become the best version of myself.

I feel learning never stops and being given the academic understanding of why things operate in a particular way and the experience you gain as an apprentice create a safe space for me to really think about how we can improve and give stakeholders the best value for money.

To find out how an Arden degree could change your life visit our course pages