Engineering Manager First to Graduate from New University Leadership Programme

Darren Chandler - web
Darren Chandler

Darren Chandler, 48, from Cheltenham, completed the three-year Senior Leadership Management Degree Apprenticeship (SLMDA) programme whilst continuing to work as  Project Engineering Manager with Ishida.

“I had wanted to gain a degree-level qualification in leadership and management for some time,” Darren said. “Our Learning and Development Manager at Ishida found the SLMDA programme at the Worcester Business School, and we visited the University together to discuss the possibilities.”

The SLMDA combines a traditional Masters in Business Administration (MBA) with an apprenticeship. The result is a programme that provides all the skills and knowledge of an MBA, whilst seamlessly integrating learning with practical applications in the workplace thanks to the apprenticeship.

“Maybe this is a little too simplistic, but I view the MBA itself as the learning element and the apprenticeship as the application element,” Darren explained.

“The programme had to work both for my aspirations and that of my employer. The MBA itself covers not only leadership and performance management, but various business disciplines such as Marketing, Finance and HR, areas which I had exposure to but very little experience of.”

“The apprenticeship had the benefit of an additional qualification and Chartered Manager status on completion, with the ability to really relate the subject matter from the MBA back into the workplace,” he added.

The SLMDA programme has already proved fruitful, both for Darren, and for Ishida – the automation and packaging technology company where he has worked for 14 years.

“Since completing the course I have gained promotion - starting my new position within the next few weeks - as General Manager charged with business development and growth in the protein sector across Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” he said. “My next step will be to Director level – but one step at a time please.”

Although the SLMDA programme is a big commitment, Darren is clear that the rewards are worth the effort.

“In terms of work – life balance, this is an undertaking that should not be taken lightly, with many weekends and evenings spent researching and studying,” he said. “However, the career paths opened, the knowledge gained, and friends made, make the hard work worth all the effort.”

Dr Scott Andrews, Deputy Head of School at Worcester Business School, said: “Darren has been an all-round team player and demonstrated key leadership and management competencies throughout his time on programme.  I am delighted that he has completed his apprenticeship to be the first SLMDA graduate from the University and I am sure he will soon be joined by others who are preparing for their end point assessments soon.”