Jason Dunning’s experience
Innovation Lead, DWF
Senior Leader Apprenticeship Postgraduate Diploma Management Practice
The Senior Leader Apprenticeship Programme, Postgraduate Diploma Management Practice was a part-time, blended learning Master’s focused on strategic learning development.
Our Senior Leader Apprenticeship programme has undergone a recent redesign and course content is now more closely aligned with the knowledge, skills, and behaviours required for a senior leader apprenticeship award.
The newly developed, 18-month 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.
The MSc is now only available as a top-up (paid for by the learner or their employer) to our Senior Leader Apprenticeship Postgraduate Diploma Senior Leadership, which is up to 100% fully funded through the Apprenticeship Levy.
My motivation for joining the Senior Leader Apprenticeship Programme was being able to see first-hand some of the learnings and developments from the programme applied directly in the workplace, and that was because my boss joined the course before I did. Seeing some of the elements taken from the literature and applied directly to the team and our strategy, which won two Financial Times Awards, for Innovation Strategy and Diversity and Inclusion in Data Analytics, and the benefit it had on both him and the business, drove me to want some of that knowledge for myself.
The initial fears around coming on the programme were some of the obvious ones. I’d not studied in a long time, and I was worried about how I’d approach academic material after being in the workplace for a number of years. Another fear was how would I personally fit the programme in around family time and work time, but these fears were dispelled from very early on in the programme. There was a lot of support that was given; the tutors, the workplace mentors – everything is in place to support you on the programme. There were also a number of others in the cohort that had similar challenges, and I was able to speak to them to find best practices to get around these challenges.
This programme has taught me to not rely as much on my own experience as a leader, I felt like I had done that for a long time, and albeit, it has put me in good stead, it’s made me progress in the organisations I’ve been in, but this programme has been a new found way for me to layer on new learning and new ways of thinking and really stretch my knowledge as a leader and bring a different approach to what I would have traditionally done.
The programme has challenged my ability to think differently, it put a lot of emphasis on critical thinking and being able to critique different approaches. You may favour one approach, but is that always the best approach? Being able to think generally, wider, and differently has been beneficial to me as well.
We’ve seen many challenges at DWF - the pandemic being one of the biggest challenges. The first unit we studied on the programme was about leadership which was important given that everybody was working from home, and I had to change and adapt to a new leadership style. As part of the programme assessment, I wrote a paper around disperse leadership which was very different to the traditional ways of leadership that I may have shown in a physical workplace. So, that is just one example of how challenges can arise at different times and how literature can help you to unpick and layer on new knowledge and new ways to think about challenges.
The programme has enabled me to grow over the last two years to be a wider, more rounded senior leader.
The practical approach to the programme enabled me to apply my learning directly to my role and has almost facilitated the next stages in my career. The programme is not just theoretically based and is structured around your day-to-day role. Completing the work-based assignment, which was purely based on a challenge my organisation was facing and looking at the different lenses of literature that would help me solve that challenge better in future and having this rounded approach at the end of my fingertips has helped me to become a better leader. I believe that this programme has paved the way in helping me to secure a new role within the Ignition Team at KPMG.
A piece of advice that I was given by my boss who had already completed the programme was to not think too much about the grades. I think if you forget about that for a second, you’ll give yourself space to focus on your challenges as a senior leader within your organisation and you’ll focus more on what literature can do to help you address those challenges. This will help you to form a natural interest and look at ways that the literature can help provide a solution. If you follow that intrigue and enthusiasm, then the grades will take care of themselves. This has been true for my experience on the programme.