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James Craft

Crook, UK

MBA Senior Leader Apprenticeship

James Craft has never been in Higher Education, but his appetite to learn and develop his skills encouraged him to begin studying at Sunderland. This apprenticeship has improved James as an all-round leader. James has since been promoted from Enterprise Manager to CEO in his organisation.

I currently work at TEDCO, where I've worked for five years as an Enterprise Manager. My role involves leading a small support organisation, where we enable clients to launch new businesses and help them grow. I'm responsible for the strategic direction of the business, ensuring we deliver the very best support to clients right across the North East.

The apprenticeship has improved me as an all-round leader. Over the past two years, I've become more self aware and improved by forward planning skills. It doesn’t happen overnight, but being consistent with my leadership style, communication, and values helped me to paint my vision, which is incredibly important to bring people on the journey with you.

Each module on the apprenticeship contained incredibly useful tools, techniques and knowledge which could be used in the business. My favourites were psychological safety, communication, change and emotional intelligence.

Balancing work and study can be challenging. I have a young family, so it has been difficult to divide my time between family, work and study. However, by having a routine in place and remaining disciplined, you can fit everything in. It isn’t easy but it is 100% worth it. Having a supportive environment in both your home and work life can really help. My family have supported me by giving me space and time to complete the work, as well as my previous manager who made time for me to explore the business in detail.  

The apprenticeship has definitely had a positive impact on TEDCO. We are embracing technology a lot more than we were in the past. New systems such as Monday.com has supported the business to adopt automation for a number of tasks and our internal processes are improving all the time. Other simple tools such as Breathe HR have helped manage the back office functions of TEDCO. We've been through a lot of change, the apprenticeship has helped us manage this better and our culture feels stronger than ever. Working as one team and supporting each other to achieve shared goals is having a big impact on our team morale and togetherness. 

It has also had a positive impact on me as I've recently been promoted to CEO.
If you are keen to develop your leadership skills and you have an appetite for learning then I couldn’t recommend this course enough. My advice to anyone looking to complete an apprenticeship would be if you embrace the learning and commit time to the modules you will reap the rewards in the long term. I didn’t go to college or university after leaving school so returning to further education in my 40s has been a challenge. But, in my opinion, it’s the best way to learn and drive change into an organisation…..go for it!"

Published 16 April 2024

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