To continue this week’s focus on National Apprenticeship Week, we have been speaking to Suzanne Mason, Project Coordinator based at Westdown Camp on Salisbury Plain, who is about to take her final exam. Suzanne shares an insight into the skills she has built over the last 24 months whilst studying for her Level Four Project Management Apprenticeship. 

“It’s been a challenge, but really interesting to research and complete the 12 assignments and study course for my Associate Project Manager (APM) knowledge training programme. It has also been invaluable in developing the skills, behaviours and knowledge required to deliver the diverse range of projects that I am involved with, that are helping t​o improve training facilities for the Armed Forces who are using the Defence estate to train.

“The course helps with learning to understand the different influences the environment will hav​e on managing projects on the Defence Training Estate (DTE) such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), asbestos management, and how to deliver works with the minimal amount of disruption to all training activities. All systems of programme delivery are varied, but the course covers every aspect required to develop into a project manager. Researching our policies and processes and how we apply them to the structure of our projects is also fascinating.

“Delivering a project from scratch as part of my ‘off the job hours’, has been incredibly exciting and challenging, and by far the most interesting part of the course. Seeing a plan you have developed come together, with the end result having a positive impact on the client and end user is rewarding. I feel proud of having accomplished delivering these projects, which also in turn has improved my relationship with the different stakeholders and gained the respect of my colleagues.

“An apprenticeship is an investment in your future. You have to combine a good work, life and study balance to have the time to focus and develop what’s needed to complete your apprenticeship. Although studying has certainly been the most demanding, I was committed to studying in the evenings as well as on weekends to enable me to progress.

“I’ve received excellent support from colleagues, my line manager and other members of the team, who have been fantastic. Working with an experienced team who can share their knowledge and skills is really helping me to become a great associate in project management and achieve the practical skills to deliver projects.

“My apprenticeship has given me more confidence when liaising with contractors and stakeholders. I can offer more support to the other project managers and I have a much better understanding of the requirements of project delivery. It’s a route into gaining a qualification, alongside your everyday work, and I have never felt pressured to complete assignments within time constraints as you have a couple of years to work through the programme and prepare yourself at the end.

“I’m looking forward to completing my programme in the coming weeks. This course has been invaluable and will open so many doors into project management. My advice for anyone interested in an apprenticeship, is to do it! I thought apprenticeships were for younger students but you can never be too old to learn new skills, gain new qualifications and progress.”

Watch Suzanne Mason in this short reel sharing an insight into studying a Level Four Project Management Apprenticeship.