VMG member, Nikki Chapman, was one of the first 5 students to complete the VMG ILM Level 5 Certificate in Leadership & Management. Apart from the tangible sense of achievement, Nikki tells of her surprise at discovering a love of learning previously tricky subjects for her and their real-world application to benefit her team.
Why did you choose to study for the course?
I was encouraged by one of our Business Support Managers within our business to go for the qualification. As someone who is not a naturally academic person (much preferring to be practically learning) I did find the thought of studying again, 18 years after leaving school, quite daunting. Being more informed about the course; the accessible styles of learning and the flexibility around assignment style, really helped me feel ready to commit to learning again. I had reached a point in my career where I felt that although I was learning a lot ‘on the job’, having the knowledge and being more informed would really be beneficial to both myself and the team I am supporting.
What have you most enjoyed or found most rewarding?
I can’t lie, I find the learning part difficult in the sense that I am not disciplined at all! Juggling a full-time role with 62 employees across 4 branches and mixed disciplines means that I work quite reactively by nature of the job, and this suits my personality completely… I love the thrill of ‘too much to do’! However, the fact that I have managed to dedicate time to the learning and, surprisingly really enjoyed the assignments, has been really rewarding and a big progression for me – I’ve have truly surprised myself with the passion I feel towards the learning, knowing that I am more informed to help my team has been my drive.
How are you translating your new knowledge into your work?
The biggest modules for me have definitely been the first two – ‘Understanding myself as a leader’ and ‘Understanding my organisation’ – especially the latter. I love being a ‘people person’ and naturally feel I am strongest in this area, but having the actual business knowledge has always felt second to this. Learning about PESTLE and LongPESTLE, thinking about the SWOT side of things and research the wider economic impacts on my practice were brilliant – which was a huge surprise to me! I am using this information all the time now, understanding how changes impact my business means we can better plan to mitigate issues, or jump towards opportunities and it feels that we are more ‘current’ now and fully informed in planning and reflective learning on changes.
How would you sum up your experience of studying for the qualification and achieving it?
Simply; it has been difficult but completely worth it! Balancing a full time highly demanding role, through what has been a particularly challenging 12 months in my practice, and trying to find the time, energy, and motivation to learn and commit to deadlines has been my biggest challenge in a long time. But the feelings of success, and the reward of committing to something and achieving results, both in my assignments AND in the visible improvements from my increased knowledge in practice has made the challenge feel truly worth it. I never went to university so I’ve never really achieved academic success as such and I now feel proud of myself for doing so. It is a wonderful feeling to know that this learning supports my team and improves their working environment and the practices’ successes.
Nikki Chapman is Practice Manager at Cawleton Vets in Cornwall.
Follow the link to find out more about the VMG ILM Level 5 Award, Certificate and Diploma in Veterinary Leadership & Management.
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