Alliance Manchester Business School - AMBS

Dawn Nelson's experience

Head of Projects, EQUANS

Women in Leadership Programme
Senior Leader Apprenticeship Postgraduate Diploma Senior Leadership

In collaboration with EQUANS, a multi-national and multi-technical service provider, we developed the Women in Leadership Programme; an accredited Senior Leader Apprenticeship.

This programme brings together like-minded women from across EQUANS in a safe and non-judgmental environment.

The levy-funded Senior Leader Apprenticeship programme, including a Postgraduate Diploma in Senior Leadership focuses on strategic leadership development and provides aspiring senior leaders with new knowledge and skills to advance their career.

This programme has an option route to a Masters (MSc) in Senior Leadership (paid for by the learner or their employer).

What were your motivations for joining the Senior Leader Apprenticeship Programme?

My motivation for joining the Senior Leader Apprenticeship Programme was to develop my leadership capabilities and prepare for a more strategic role. I was interested in expanding my perspective and developing new skills to lead larger teams and more complex initiatives.

Were there any challenges that you were facing in your role that you hoped the programme would help you to overcome?

I was struggling to effectively prioritise conflicting priorities across multiple teams and large projects. I hoped the program would help me better understand organisation-wide objectives, improve collaboration, and develop frameworks to balance priorities and risk.

Did you have any initial fears about joining the programme?

Initially, I was concerned about finding the time for the programme having just returned from maternity leave, amidst my demanding role. I recognised the long-term value that the course content would make to me my team and organisation, I made attending the sessions a priority, and found that dedicating specifics days for off-the-job learning helped to overcome this.

To what extent do you think the Senior Leader apprenticeship programme enhanced your career?

The apprenticeship provided invaluable leadership development that has already enhanced my career. The coaching and assessment centre helped me identify and address critical development needs to become a more strategic, inspiring, and decisive leader.

Which aspects of the Senior Leader apprenticeship do you use most in your work?

I rely heavily on what I've learned about business case development, advanced project financial analysis, leadership styles, and strategic planning tools. Applying this learning has enabled me to lead a team that delivers complex million-pound projects successfully.

What is the most positive impact your apprenticeship had for you?

For me, the biggest impact was the increased confidence and credibility I gained from the programme when engaging with executives. I now have the knowledge and tools expected of a senior leader.

What is the most positive impact your apprenticeship had for your organisation?

The biggest impact on my team and organisation is that I now have the ability to lead strategically at a senior management level on capital works critical to the organisation. I moved from task-based tactical management to future-focused leadership.

My expanded strategic perspective has brought clearer focus for me and my objectives. I have assisted with the implementation of project frameworks, and streamlined resource allocation, whilst improving cross-department collaboration using more effective communication styles.

What advice would you give someone who is looking to join the Senior Leader Apprenticeship Programme?

Leverage all the development opportunities fully - the assignments, cohort collaboration, and especially the coaching. Immerse yourself in the experience and directly apply the practical frameworks to your leadership role right away for the greatest payoff. Stay committed through to completion even when things get difficult.

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The apprenticeship provided invaluable leadership development that has already enhanced my career.

Dawn Nelson, Head of Projects, Sustainable FM Division, EQUANS

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