No regrets with apprenticeships: ‘You’re never too old to learn!’

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Date: 5th Mar 2019

Studying again after 24 years in industry is helping Missenden Abbey Sales & Marketing Manager Suze Ward have no regrets.

“The fact that I never studied in higher education has been my one regret in life,” says Suze, who is a Senior Leader Master’s Degree apprentice.

“I was very career driven and felt I was not at all academic. My interests lay in progressing my career and I did well. But when the opportunity to study whilst working came up it was too good to miss.”Suze Ward

This week is National Apprenticeships Week, an annual celebration of apprenticeships to mark the impact of the earn-as-you-learn alternative on individuals, employers and the economy.

Apprenticeships have had a massive revamp over the last few years - gone are the days of entry-level, trade-based schemes.

The nontraditional route has been transformed to offer highly sought skills – across every sector.

Suze is just one of hundreds of apprentices learning at Bucks and now she’s ‘blazing a trail’ to a degree.

The 42-year-old started her career after studying a GNVQ Level 4 Higher in Leisure and Tourism at college. From there she worked in a call centre for an accident management company - climbing the ladder over seven years to become an account manager.

“After a short spell travelling I got my first hospitality-based job as an account manager for the hotel chain, Jarvis hotels,” said Suze.

“This was 17 years ago and I have since worked for many of the big hotel groups, IHG, Rezidor and Devere to name a few.  I have progressed my career from account management into sales and marketing managing territories and teams.”

Despite building a successful career, Suze wanted more.

She said: “The opportunity to study in whilst working and to reflect on the skills and knowledge I have already gained in my career, and put them into some form of formal qualification was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.

“I am lucky that my manager has been very encouraging and supportive of me doing this. I am allowed to spend my 20% of my working week studying as I choose.  I can either spend the day at the office, at the library or if needed at home.”

At Missenden Abbey, Suze heads up the marketing team who are also the sales experts in the business and responsible for half of the total income targets for the venue.

But now she’s also being challenged in the classroom too.

“Starting from scratch in the academic world was daunting – the theories, practises and actually getting my head into learning and intensive studying was an adjustment, even though it’s a subject matter I have a great deal of experience in,” explained Suze.

So what’s the dream now she’s back in higher education?

“I’ll let you know once I know!” laughed Suze. “I would like to take the next step up in my career for sure. I’m proud of what I have achieved in my career so far and to now achieve an MBA will just be the icing on the cake.

“I wish I had done it before, but I am so grateful for this opportunity now!”

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