Zara’s Apprenticeship Journey Led Her to Head of Department in Less than a Year
Zara Azam, a 2022 Futures graduate, is an example of someone who through commitment to her own education, has benefitted from completing a Level 5 apprenticeship while in a senior management role.
We asked Zara to share her unique perspective on what it means to do an apprenticeship at an already established stage in her career.
She shares her thought process when committing to the qualification, how she was able to embed this into the busy schedule of an Operations Manager, and how it contributed to her promotion to Head of Department.
What has your journey been at Yu Energy?
I joined Yu Energy as a Billing Analyst in 2014 and had progressed to Operations Manager by 2018. After a couple of years in this role, I was offered a Level 5 qualification by my employer and a Futures representative to help me reach the next level in my career. By late 2020 I was promoted to Head of Operations within the company as a result of my ever-evolving skills and knowledge.
How did your apprenticeship help you secure the big promotion?
My apprenticeship provided me with greater workplace discipline and demonstrated how effectively working through certain tools could be embedded into my practices. I was then able to share this knowledge and experience with my direct reports to drive efficiencies through each layer of the department in a way I wasn’t able to previously.
During the apprenticeship I found myself delivering on vocational webinars, talks and podcasts which I had always wanted to achieve as part of my role, but at the time wasn’t working efficiently enough to bring to fruition!
I was suddenly able to contribute to the business in a way I always knew I could but didn’t have the knowledge to get there. Zara Azam
Do you feel your employer has benefitted from the investment in your training?
During the start of the energy crisis, Yu Energy were awarded the on-taking of a number of failed suppliers and given the responsibility of onboarding these customers and protecting their credit balances. Internally I was given the responsibility to lead this monumental project from start to finish - which I couldn't have achieved without the knowledge I had gained from my apprenticeship.
The apprenticeship scheme has allowed practical theory to be applied in real time, such as adapting management style by using business analysis models to make informed recommendations to the senior management team.
Having the added theoretical understanding of business operations outside of Yu Energy has allowed me to present information and open the minds of senior leaders. We are making more decisions based on facts, prioritising business needs and removing emotion where needed.
How do you think your apprenticeship has impacted your career?
I was the first colleague internally to be recognised and promoted to Head of Department, which I attribute to my commitment to continued learning and development.
However, my apprenticeship has not only impacted my career, but that of my colleagues. The ability to identify unique skill sets that are vital to future proofing the business has been a key driver when championing my mentees for promotion. I have mentored nine individuals in my function who have recently been promoted into key positions and I am extremely proud of them.
If you'd like to explore how we can support your progression in the workplace, take a look at our apprenticeships and request an informal discussion with the team.
Alternatively, as an employer you can request further detail on how we can support you with home-grown talent.
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