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'Studying during lockdown can only improve me as a leader'

Studying strategic management during the pandemic has provided an unrivalled opportunity to see how different businesses have responded to the challenges of Covid-19.

Simon Newton APP

It is learning that Simon Newton, who is nine months into a Senior Leaders’ Masters Apprenticeship at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), can take back to his company and inform how they look after staff and take the business forward.

Pre-pandemic, Simon was part of a cohort who met every six weeks on campus to share insights, gain feedback and hear from industry guest speakers. During the pandemic, learning moved online, but Simon said the support and encouragement has not waivered.

He said: “To be honest, I have loved it! It must really work for my learning and personality preferences. As much as I enjoy being on campus and the face to face workshops and lectures, I don’t think my learning has been hampered at all via online study.

“I’ve been grateful for the virtual support that the university offers,” he added. “My tutor has responded very quickly to my emails and I have regular contact with engagement officer Alison, who’s great. Virtual resources like the library are on hand so really, the support is exactly as was, prior to lockdown.”

The course, which is accredited by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), asks apprentices not only to complete academic learning but also focus on reflection and application within their own workplace and teams. It aims to develop strategic leadership and people skills.

During the early weeks of lockdown, Simon was among staff who were furloughed from his business, which is in the education sector. He used the time to structure his days around his learning, but also said it gave him an insight into mental health issues that colleagues may experience.

“I can certainly speak to the feelings generated by not being in the workplace,” he said. “It is an odd time and I absolutely can come at these particular modules and bring back to my business a unique perspective and understanding that I would otherwise not have.”

DMU supported organisations such as Simon’s at the start of the lockdown, by communicating with government bodies to ensure that apprentices who were able and wanted to continue their learning were provided the opportunity to do so.

Simon and the cohort have found studying the way in which other companies had responded to coronavirus “very useful”. He added: “Being able to bring those learnings and experiences into my business has helped shape our agenda in terms of looking after our people through Covid-19 and lockdown situations.

“I think it (studying through lockdown) can only improve me as a leader. The fact that I can share experiences and importantly, hear experiences from other leaders certainly helps my development.”

DMU runs 10 different higher and degree apprenticeships, from level 5 to level 7 (postgraduate). To find out more, click here 

Posted on Monday 3rd August 2020

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