Adult student, Amanda Burns, 40, from Prescot, is now a Project Manager at Benchmark Retail Services, an in-store marketing specialist, thanks to completing Chartered Management Institute (CMI) qualifications at St Helens College, which allowed her to achieve her promotion.
Amanda had worked in a supermarket as a merchandiser for over 12 years, but a change in arrangements meant her role became outsourced. Amanda explains, “My role in the supermarket was outsourced to the suppliers merchandising team, so I was moved to customer services, which I didn’t enjoy, so I handed in my notice and secured a new job at Benchmark.”
I originally started working for them in a merchandising capacity, but applied for an administration role 18 months later. I thoroughly enjoyed the role, however as a single mum, I knew I needed find a way to progress, which was quite difficult in a small organisation. So, I decided to return to education to increase my chances of promotion.”
In 2015, following an initial enquiry to study the CMI Level 3 Diploma in First Line Management at another college in Merseyside, Amanda was informed she did not meet the academic entry requirements for a place on the course. Undeterred, she attended a business, management and professional open evening at St Helens College.
She said, “I met Michelle Aitken, the course tutor, who was lovely and talked through my work experience history. She advised that based upon this, I did in fact, meet the entry requirements and offered me a place on a three-week taster course.”
Amanda says, “I really enjoyed the taster session and it helped make my mind up about enrolling fully. I would definitely recommend them to anybody who is interested in undertaking a course but is unsure whether it is for them. It showed me how I would be able to apply the knowledge I gained during the lessons to my role in the workplace.”
Amanda enrolled onto the CMI Level 3 Diploma in First Line Management, a part-time course developed for junior managers, supervisors and first line managers who have operational responsibility and wish to build upon and develop their existing management skills and knowledge.
Whilst studying the CMI level 3, alongside work, Amanda was able to suggest and implement changes to some working practises based on her learning that were of benefit to her employer. When a vacancy arose, Amanda’s employers approached her and offered her a Project Manager role.
It was through an Advanced Learner Loan, that Amanda secured the finances to cover her course fees. Amanda says, “The process for applying for an Advanced Learner Loan was simple and straightforward. I enrolled at the College and then applied for my loan online.”
Amanda fully immersed herself back into studying and even became a student representative for her course area.
Speaking of why she chose the course, Amanda says it was the easy accessibility of the college, which played a huge part in her decision to study, but has since benefited from the professional study environment. Amanda explains “The location of the college was a major factor in my decision and I thoroughly enjoy attending St Helens College. There is a friendly and helpful atmosphere in the lessons, where both the students and staff are more than willing to help one and other.”
Following successful completion of the CMI Level 3 Diploma in First Line Management, Amanda progressed onto the next level undertaking the CMI Level 5 Extended Diploma in Leadership and Management. Upon completion, she will be able to apply for the accolade of Chartered Manager status. Amanda says, “Once I complete the level 5 course I intend to apply for chartered status and hope to further my career to a more strategic level. I feel continuing my development with the help of the college will be the best way forward for me.”
For Amanda studying a professional qualification has allowed her to achieve a promotion. Amanda says, “I feel that what I am continuingly learning during my time at St Helens College has been truly invaluable in my career progression. When I enrolled at the college in 2015, I was a part-time administrator for Benchmark Retail Services and have since been promoted to Project Manager handling multi-million pound contracts. Something that I would never have achieved without the knowledge gained from completing Chartered Management Institute (CMI) qualifications at St Helens College.”
Summarising her time at St Helens College, Amanda encourages anybody who is thinking about returning to study after a long period to do so. Amanda says, “I would whole-heartedly encourage anyone to do it. Prior to joining I had been out of education for 20 years, however I received enough support to pass my level 3 course and I am on track to complete my level 5 in summer 2018. I would urge anyone considering it to give it a go.”
More info about Management Courses at St Helens College