Ellie Parminter is somewhat of an apprenticeship guru having been on three different apprentice schemes since she started her career! Most recently she completed her Learning & Development Consultant/Business Partner Level 5 apprenticeship with Watson Martin, a programme she loved and recommends to others who want to develop their L&D career. Here she tells us her story!
Explain a little bit about your role and company
I am the Learning & Development Adviser for Atkins, part of the global design, engineering and project management consultancy SNC-Lavalin. We work on large projects such as HS2. In my role, I focus on the operational delivery of our apprenticeship, graduate and professional development schemes.
What is your previous career experience?
I previously worked for Catalyst Housing, one of the largest housing associations in the UK. During my five years there, I studied three different apprenticeships, with the most recent being the Learning & Development Consultant / Business Partner Level 5. I have worked in L&D for over four years and it’s my true passion to develop and support people in their careers.
What attracted you to L&D?
I love helping people. Watching my colleagues grow and develop is truly so rewarding. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my career, but I have always been open to trying new things. Learning & Development allows me to design, deliver and be part of people’s career journeys which is so crucial to creating a great place to work.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship and was the CIPD qualification an important aspect?
I started my career as an apprentice and having successfully completed three apprenticeships, I am a true advocate for this route no matter what age, background or career experience you have. We never stop learning and the apprenticeship opportunity enabled me to deliver in my role with the 20% off the job element allowing me to learn new things and complete my assignments during working hours. The CIPD qualification was important to me. As the professional awarding body for HR, I have always wanted to become a CIPD member, to have access to the resources and networking opportunities the organisation offers, to help fulfil my career.
How did you manage the off-the-job studying time and was your manager supportive?
As a highly organised professional, my work calendar is colour coordinated and I’ve always taken the time to ensure my time is spent being productive. I chose one day during the week when I would feel most engaged and motivated to study. I would block my diary out and inform my team that it was my study day so they wouldn’t contact me. Thankfully my manager was supportive and I gained new skills, experiences and knowledge by being part of a range of projects and working with different stakeholders.
How did you choose Watson Martin and why?
I had been thinking about completing my CIPD for a while and one day decided to do some research. I found Watson Martin as one of the leading HR and L&D CIPD providers and completed an application form. I chose the apprenticeship route which was face-to-face for one day every six weeks when a new assignment was set. The rest of the course was delivered online as we entered the Covid-19 pandemic. I felt the blend of face-to-face and online learning was just right and I felt supported throughout.
What has been your experience of studying with Watson Martin?
My experience of Watson Martin has been very positive from start to finish. The use of OneFile and deadline dates were very accommodating, and I rarely felt under pressure so I couldn’t perform. This was important to me, and the blend of my work/life balance was consistent throughout the programme.
How did you work with your adviser Tracey Lewis?
We had review meetings scheduled every four to six weeks. Tracey was always very open and honest with me; she provided feedback at every opportunity to help me grow and push myself. I respected and took on-board everything she said and ensured I embedded this into my assignments and day-to-day job. I could reach out to Tracey whenever I needed to, and she would respond speedily. On one occasion, a personal issue meant I couldn’t complete an assignment that was due. I asked for an extension and the response I received was incredibly supportive and understanding which made me feel at ease.
Did you find Watson Martin’s VLE and online resources useful?
Yes 100% useful. I used OneFile in my previous apprenticeships so I knew exactly how to navigate the system. The resources available from the CIPD are so useful, there is absolutely everything available to hand. There are multiple platforms to learn from and there wasn’t a time when I couldn’t find what I needed.
How has the apprenticeship improved your work?
The apprenticeship has boosted my confidence both personally and professionally. I certainly feel like an experienced, confident L&D professional who is not afraid to speak up or share my knowledge and experiences. I have been given multiple opportunities to take part in new initiatives which wouldn’t have happened had I not completed an apprenticeship. My credibility has improved.
What new skills and knowledge have you developed to support your role?
I have learnt so many new skills from knowing how to consult with clients and influence at all levels to managing budgets and resources. My knowledge has expanded in a range of areas and I understand new theories and models to support my role. L&D is one of the most important functions of any business and it’s important to understand the values, vision, and strategy to feed into your work.
What are your ultimate career aims?
My next career aspirations are to become an L&D Business Partner or Consultant. I would love the opportunity to partner with a department/directorate within a medium-large organisation and support their deliverables whilst feeding into the corporate strategy. I’m ambitious to strive and achieve more in my L&D career.
Would you recommend Watson Martin to others?
Yes definitely! You will be supported throughout, provided with the right tools and materials to succeed and build a network of people who are in similar positions to support your career. Watson Martin has a great success rate and will ensure you have a seamless journey.
Would you recommend an apprenticeship to others who want to progress their HR or L&D career?
Yes, I would. Having completed several apprenticeships with different training providers, they truly are one of the most advantageous ways to develop your skill set. You must be committed and passionate about what you’re doing. In HR and L&D, we spend a lot of time focussing on the learning needs of our workforce and we’re just as important! I would encourage anyone in our profession to learn, build and develop their own skill set. And, if you’re not working in this field but would like to make the shift, then an apprenticeship is also a great way to start and enter this fantastic industry.
Ellie started her apprenticeship programme in October 2019 and worked through her studies despite challenges at work during the pandemic. In fact, Ellie remained on target and provided a range of good evidences in her assessments based on the challenges faced during Covid-19. She has worked towards building on her knowledge, skills and behaviours very well. I wish her all the best in her career.”
Tracey Lewis, Apprenticeship Tutor