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Thumbs up for Joint Learning from Janie Birchall at HMRC

16th March 2016 by Keeley Smith

CASE STUDY - discussing her experience of the recent apprenticeship she has completed!


It is completely someone else’s fault I’m here today. I began my ILM journey after a colleague and a friend joined the first cohort and told me all about it. He started talking all about management theory, action learning sets and how the apprenticeship was really helping him develop. He said I’d really enjoy it and encouraged me to sign up for the next cohort. I regarded my friend as really intelligent and committed, and I have to say I wondered if I was up to the challenge. I was daunted at the prospect of having to study, research, write assignments and take exams - it had been 15 years since I’d taken my A-Levels at school. And then there was my home life, being a single mum with a full time job I didn’t know how I’d fit it in. But the more I thought about it the more it made sense - I’d been at the same level in the same role for a number of years and I guess I had become comfortable. My career aspirations had always been much greater than where I was at that time and I decided it was time to take my development into my own hands and I made the application for the next intake.


The benefits of being on the apprenticeship were quickly apparent. I had been in my role for a long time and I thought I knew pretty much all there was to know. Surprisingly, the knowledge and skills I was developing were helping me to see it in a whole new light. The role was very process driven and transactional but using what I’d learned I was able to tap into theory like Herzberg, Kubler-Ross and Maslow to find out what motivated my staff and improve performance with more carrot and less stick. My leadership profile improved and I was delivering more strategic messages, trying to be a more transformational leader, and I was leading and guiding my teams through change rather than struggling through them. I gained much more confidence, delegated more and began coaching and developing my staff; leading to a more creative and innovative team where we all began to enjoy the workplace more.

Highs & Lows

So far it all sounds like a bed of roses, right? Well that’s not quite the whole picture.Like it or not you have to work for these rewards and you only get out what you put in. So, did I have to give up weekends and holidays to research and write my assignments? YES. Did I have to be really organised and fit study around my job and family life? YES. Did I miss out on social occasions? YES.

Was it worth it??? ABSOLUTELY!

Picking out some of the lows….. referred assignments, maths exam and wanting to do anything other than write another assignment!!! And some of the highs…..the satisfaction of handing in a good piece of work I’d worked really hard on, passing my exams and finishing and passing the Financial Case assignment (my arch nemesis!) The biggest achievement of all was gaining my promotion to Senior Officer in a whole new directorate which I would never had the confidence to do previously.


I’ve come out the other side feeling a great sense of accomplishment, gained so much transferable knowledge and skills that I’m hoping will help to see me through further career progression. I can say that I now have the confidence to step outside my comfort zone knowing that it can lead to great things both personally and professionally and it really is down, in no small part, to completing the ILM apprenticeship. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

Do you want to find out how you can land yourself an apprenticeship? Give us a call here at Joint Learning on 0151 236 9550 or email us at and leave your details.

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