Delight as KFC graduates receive their degrees after years of study

For most students, managing to stay on top of assignments, reading and lectures is a full-time job – but imagine combining a degree with a demanding day job in management.

That has been life for the past three years for 13 students from Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) who have been awarded degrees in Business Management BA (Hons). Nine graduated with First Class Honours.  

KFC at the dinner

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has worked with KFC since 2013 on the degree course, which is open to the company’s assistant restaurant managers and above. KFC pays for half of the course fees, and the rest is debited from staff salaries.  

This is the second cohort to graduate from the programme, which has already seen graduates develop into senior roles within the company.  In 2016, KFC became one of the first companies to take advantage of the Government’s new Apprenticeship levy, enrolling staff onto Degree Apprenticeships.

The Business Management degree has been specifically designed to allow staff to combine work with study, attending lectures and completing assignments under the expert guidance of academics in DMU’s Faculty of Business and Law.

KFC group shot

The degree has been accredited by the Chartered Management Institute, which means the graduates automatically gain a Level 5 qualification in Leadership and Management along with their BA (Hons) degree.  
Neil Piper, chief people officer at KFC UKI, part of the Yum! Brands Group, gave a toast to their achievements at a special celebration dinner held at Trinity Chapel.

He told them: “I know there are lots of proud people here to see you graduate, but we as a brand are incredibly proud of you and this programme. This opportunity to study for a degree is something that we as a brand can talk about to create pride and excitement among our staff. It has been transformative for us. The level of resilience, effort and focus you have shown to get through that level of study as well as leading your teams is inspirational.

“This is a special day – remember every single moment of it.”

* Book a place at our next open day to chat to lecturers about business studies
* Find out about our Higher and Degree Apprenticeships
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Special awards for strong performances on the course were made to Warren Hill and Michelle Cord.  Michelle works in HR management team for the SME Group, which operates franchises for KFC. She said: “I’ve been with KFC for 14 years, I started working there after my GCSEs and I’ve been with them pretty much ever since. I’m so proud of this award and the degree.

“I’ve learned such a lot on this course and I’d recommend it. I couldn’t believe it when they announced I’d won this prize!”

Warren, an area trainer in Essex, said: “It’s been a difficult sometimes but the back up and support we’ve had has been great. It’s a commitment to yourself and this degree is something I’m very proud of.”

The Class of 2018 are: Marie Barnes, Nicholas Bojungs, Keitson Campos, Michelle Cord, Gareth Dew, Francesca Hedges, Martha Kempsford, Faye Meade, Warren Miller, Eweline Mokicka, Felicity Starnell, Liam Stevens and Ross Wyatt.

Alison Bragg, Academic Director for Degree Apprenticeships and Undergraduate Corporate Programmes in the Faculty of Business and Law, DMU said: “At De Montfort University, we pride ourselves on our ability to adapt our skills and services to match the needs of business. We are all incredibly proud of the way in which these students have been able to achieve such fantastic results whilst holding down demanding work roles.
“The people-focused culture at KFC reflects onto the entire team and we all really enjoy working with the students who are now equipped with the additional skills and knowledge to help them develop successful careers.”

Francesca Hedges, area manager for KFC North West, started with the company after her A-levels. Not only has she combined work and study, she has also had her first child and has another on the way. Asked how she managed to do it all, she laughed: “I’ve got a very supportive family! They’ve been great and I think when you are working you are perhaps more focused. I jumped at the chance of doing the degree and really enjoyed it.”

Helen Chauhan is Higher Education Engagement Manager at the Chartered Management Institute, which accredited the course.

She said: “They have all been able to be student members of the CMI during their studies. We teach the professional ‘soft skills’ alongside the academic learning that the degree teaches. We think skills such as communications and managing people are as important as budgeting and HR.”

KFC has been named in the top 30 best places to work in the 2017 Great Workplaces UK list and has been lauded for its focus on staff development and training.

Posted on Monday 29 January 2018

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