Andrew Sword

Taking an ILM qualification with us, Andrew discovered more about the type of manager he wanted to become.

Now a Senior Project Manager at Legal & General, Andrew shared how the Management and Leadership apprenticeship helped him to line manage four direct reports, as well as honing his leadership skills when it came to delivering new projects.

Andrew Sword

Here’s what he had to say:

Hi Andrew! Could you start by telling me a little bit about you and your job role at Legal & General?

I’m a Senior Project Manager. When I first started the ILM Level 5 qualification, I was a Project Manager moving into a Senior Project Manager role. As part of that transition and part of my development, I was also given the opportunity to manage four Project Managers.

Part of doing the qualification was an opportunity to develop and advance my leadership capabilities and competencies.

What does a typical working day look like for you?

I mainly do project delivery and I’m currently managing a transformation programme at L&G which is looking at our HR systems and consolidating them into one platform.

However, as part of my role I also manage four project managers. Two of them work within the HR portfolio with me and two of them work on initiatives within other change portfolios. It gives a great opportunity to work with people outside the normal parameters of project delivery and support them in their careers.

That’s an interesting set-up. I’ve never heard of that before!

What it does mean is that during 1:1s we might spend 10-15 minutes talking about what they’re doing day-to-day from a delivery perspective, but the remaining 45 minutes will be all about how them – covering things like how their return to work is going, how they’re finding the office, the development areas for this year etc.

It’s a bit more of an enriching conversation as opposed to just talking about the general challenges and complexities Project Managers deal with daily.

It does make sense – it’s less about work and more about the person themselves. What appealed to you about your new role with Legal & General?

It was a move-up of grade as opposed to complete change of role – which essentially meant taking on management of projects and initiatives of greater complexity, scope, and budget.

Did you enjoy your apprenticeship with us?

I did. It was really the management and leadership styles theory that was quite useful to me to self-reflect on what type of manager that I was, which ones I identified with.

Those introspective modules I found were more beneficial to me than the more transactional modules. That’s where I got a lot of value from it.

You do get a lot from ILM qualifications, where you do learn more about who you are as a person. I remember coming away, understanding myself a bit more...

Totally – just the way that you manage or the way that you react in certain situations. I’ve definitely learned a lot from it.

Has your apprenticeship improved how you do your job?

From a line management perspective, I definitely feel it’s given me a lot to consider about the type of manager I am, how I bring myself to different meetings and how attentive I am.

From a project delivery perspective, I guess there’s that leadership role in making sure those projects happen. So, it’s helped me improve on both sides.

Your Training Advisor Sue mentioned to me that you use the 5 Whys. Could you tell me a little bit more about that?

Simply, if you’re working on improving a process or looking at the root cause of an issues, just asking the question of ‘why’? five times helps to get to the genuine root of what’s actually happening.

So, if something’s not quite working, you’ll ask the question of ‘why’s that not working?’

You might get a bit of a superficial answer to start off with and then you just keep asking ‘why’s that?’ and working yourself back. If you can address the root of the problem, all these downstream impacts will be fixed – in theory.

For example we might use it understand why it takes so long to onboard new starters or why we have an approval process for booking annual leave.

Asking the question ‘why’ helps us to understand things in a bit more detail.

Let’s talk about your Training Advisor, Sue...

Sue’s great. She’s direct in her delivery style – what you see is what you get. You appreciate where you stand with her. What was always really good is that you could talk things through with her – she'd say, ‘this is what you need to do to get this over the line.’ I understood what she needed from me, and she understood what I needed from her. It was a collaborative relationship in terms of how we needed to work together to achieve what we needed to.

And she loves dogs, so we had that in common too!

Did Legal & General support you while you were learning?

They made the whole thing available, and it was a regular topic of conversation with my line manager in our 1:1s – how it was going and how I was using it. They made time for us to complete the qualification and provided the support that I needed.

And what motivates you to learn, Andrew?

Since my degree, I’ve done a few professional qualifications but since joining Legal & General seven years ago, I hadn’t worked towards any formal qualifications. There was a growing appetite – I felt ready to stretch my mind and do some learning again. And then this came up and it dovetailed quite nicely with areas I wanted to focus on developing.

It’s always good to do a bit of learning and get out of the regular rhythm of doing ‘BAU’.

Definitely! Do you think taking an apprenticeship has changed your life?

I would say that it’s definitely complemented my professional life in terms of how I work and operate on a daily basis.

And what advice would you give to someone thinking of taking up an apprenticeship?

Do it for the right reasons. Commit the time. And approach it with an open mind.

What are your career aspirations? Where will we see in 10 years?

In the short-term, my aspirations are to deliver HR transformation and get our new platform over the line. That’s going to wrap up in 2024-2025.

Off the back of that, hopefully working towards a Head of Change/Programme Manager/Programme Director role within Legal & General.

Sounds exciting, Andrew! We wish you all the best 😊