07.03.20 mh Portal Awards 269After completing her A Levels in 2001, Fay progressed straight into the workforce. While she did complete a Level 3 NCQ in Sport and Allied Occupations and a Level 3 ILM in Leadership and Management, she still felt that her academic ability was limited, particularly when she began her role at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

“I struggled with feelings of imposter syndrome. To increase my confidence, I attended a Women’s Development programme in 2015… it was here that I began to consider what my future could look like and how I wanted to build on my academic ability.”

In 2017, Fay was offered access to Leadership and Management Higher Level Apprenticeships through Portal and embarked on her Level 5 ILM Leadership and Management.

“Portal presented their courses so clearly, which provided the foundations to prepare myself to undertake a degree qualification in the future.”

She added: “Undertaking the ILM has enabled me to consider new ways of working within my role and develop myself academically, and I have been able to utilise new approaches to ensure I can be as efficient and effective as possible.”

Fay has been able to apply skills gained in her ILM apprenticeship to her day-to-day project planning, including the #INNERSTRENGTH project, an initiative targeting teenage girls who were physically inactive and lacked confidence. The project, which was nominated for a national award in 2019, involved collaboration with external partners to provide a course of physical activity and confidence building workshops, connecting young people with like-minded individuals and providing tools to improve self-esteem.

Fay said: “The programme has achieved remarkable results across Cardiff, and I was asked to present the research gathered at a conference… As part of this conference, the initiative was also shortlisted for a National StreetGames award… Despite not winning the award, the shortlisting itself provided a platform to highlight my organisation on a national scale.”

Completing the ILM has greatly increased Fay’s confidence and self-esteem: “I am very proud of the things I have achieved as a result of undertaking the programme.”

Fay was encouraged to pursue her desire to complete further academic qualifications and went on to complete a Leadership and Management post graduate degree.

She said: “I have also had other personal achievements during this period of study, which have been a direct result of my increased confidence and willingness to put myself forward for new opportunities.”

Fay’s personal achievements including taking on more responsibility as a school governor by chairing three subcommittees, presenting research at national conferences, delivering lectures to Sports Development students, and winning the Portal Learner of the Year (Business) in 2020.

Completing the ILM programme has been beneficial to Fay’s organisation as she has been able to relate skills and other elements to her daily work, specifically action planning and evaluating.

“I now utilise new tools and approached to project planning and challenge others within the team to look at their approaches differently. The ILM allowed me to apply new knowledge and learning to real-life projects and has contributed benefits in terms of the way these initiatives are delivered.”

Operating the growing #INNERSTRENGTH programme alongside other working commitments required Fay to deploy a range of skills developed through the ILM qualification, predominantly managing staff, delegating working, motivating others and time management.

Fay added: “The programme has contributed to my employer’s commitment of offering additional learning experiences to Sport Development degree students which has in turn allowed further growth and identification of future talent.”