Jo Holbrook

An Adviser Registration Teams Manager at Legal & General, apprentice Jo Holbrook took the Level 4 Management course with TSW Training.

When we chatted to Jo in March 2022, she had recently completed the Level 4 Management apprenticeship with TSW Training. Here she tells us about the clear connection she saw between the course and her 20 years of management experience.

Hello! Please would you introduce yourself?

Hi, I’m Jo! I’ve been an Adviser Registration Teams Manager for two years at Legal & General.

I took the Level 4 Management course with TSW Training.

I did the ILM Level 3 many years ago and then the opportunity came up more recently to do the Level 4 with TSW Training Apprenticeships.

It was an 18-month long course which I completed just before Christmas. I think I underestimated how much work was involved in it but I got my certificate!

Did you enjoy the apprenticeship?

I enjoyed all of it. It was a really good refresher of things I haven’t done for ages, like SWOT analysis. I used to do them years ago because I’ve been managing for 20+ years but they’re just one of those things that just fall off the radar.

There were certain modules I enjoyed more than others. I’m very much a people person so I enjoyed learning more about managing my staff. I enjoyed the project element of it as well.

What appealed to you about your role with your company?

I’ve been at L&G for about 23 years and have been a manager for about 21 of them. I’ve moved around lots of different departments.

The course we did with TSW wasn’t something that’s offered to everyone – my senior managers put forward names of people they thought would be interested and I was picked from my division.

That was good for me, and for my development.

Has the apprenticeship improved how you do your job? Can you see parallels between the course and your real work? Could you tell us about it?

I’ve been doing this for years. There are certain things now that I wouldn’t have done before the course.

The one big thing that sticks in my mind from Sue was when the objectives come down from the top – the hierarchy, as it were. I always make sure my team is fully aware of that now whereas I probably didn’t do that much in the past.

The SWOT analysis too – you know they’re out there, you just don’t have time to do them. But now I make sure I do them in the team’s 1-2-1’s and we set their PDP’s off the back of them.

Little things like that definitely help. My team find them helpful too as they can see that there are different things we can do to help them develop. You see the benefits all around.

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

She’s very flexible. If I had to cancel because we had something come up at work that I couldn’t avoid, she was very flexible with that.

We’d normally be speaking on Teams through the pandemic. She was always there if I needed anything.

If I didn’t know how to start an assignment, she’d guide me to the right place and I’d think: ‘Oh, yes, it’s clicked. Now I can get on with it.’ She was fab, absolutely fab.

There were a few of us that did the course and some of us finished early so that was really good. We got it all done before Christmas.

What motivates you to learn?

I just like learning new things. I like to have the knowledge and the skills to be able to do my job and to do it really, really well.

I think that’s what drives me as a person – I don’t ever want to be rubbish at my job!

I do enjoy learning new things and when this qualification came up, I thought it was ideal for me.

It was enjoyable and I do like learning new things. I like to challenge myself and get better and better at what I do.

Do you think taking an apprenticeship has changed your life? In what way?

It’s given me a bit more confidence that I can actually do it. I’ve been doing this a long time so there were little tweaks to the way we do stuff but nothing huge.

If you’re a newer manager and you haven’t been managing a long time, then these qualifications are perfect. I know somebody who used to work for me – he was doing one of the lower levels – and you can see a change in him in the way he works.

What advice would you give to people thinking of taking up an apprenticeship?

I’d say go for it, especially if you’re newer to the role and you want to get that confidence, or you want to get into a management role. It’s definitely beneficial to your confidence, the way you work, the way you interact with other departments too. It’s just a massive help, really.

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

As part of my development this year, with my manager, I want to progress. I want to go up to the next level. I’ve got a mentor and I’m getting involved in different projects.

I really like the project management efficiency side of my job. I love changing things; I love pulling things apart and putting them back together.

I’m looking for a promotional step. I’ve done a lot of sideways steps throughout my career and now I’m ready. My kids are older, I’ve got more time. I want to progress upwards now and that’s where I’m looking to be by the end of the year.

I definitely want to go up a grade and get involved in project management as well.