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Insights 18 Months as a higher apprentice project manager

Tasmin is a solver. As a Level 4 Higher Apprentice Project Manager, she works with clients to identify issues and agree on appropriate solutions. She also helps implement them before moving on to her next project, ensuring operations will run smoothly. This can vary from managing a project to providing communications and engagement support. 

In 2019, she started at Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group, as one of our 315 UK apprentices embarking on an early careers journey with us. Here's how she's been getting on:

image of Tasmin smiling

On National Apprentice Week, what makes you proud to be part of our organization?

I'm surrounded by people who support and encourage me to realize my potential. My apprenticeship has allowed me to develop new skills but more importantly increase my self-confidence. I now have the drive and assurance to challenge myself and seek new opportunities. Looking back to when I first joined Atkins, I've become a different person, and for the better!

I'm also proud to work at Atkins because we place an importance on ED&I. Working with integrity means a lot to me. 

Who has been your most significant support during your apprenticeship?

My Line Manager, Management Consultant Nicola Aspinall, has been my role model and mentor. Since the beginning of my time at Atkins, she's believed in me, encouraging me to reach out for opportunities even if they may initially seem intimidating. 

Nicola has also encouraged me to apply for various opportunities and competitions. She sponsored my application for the AtkinsRéalis Young Professional Awards for the UK & Europe region. As a result, I was shortlisted for Young Professional of the Year and named Young Professional Runner-up for the Aerospace, Defence, Security & Technology division (ADS&T). 

Nicola embodies our core values of Safety, Integrity, Collaboration, and Innovation. She helps me promote them in the work that I do. Her eye for detail has helped me to elevate my work to be of a better professional standard. Her support has enabled me to feel proud of the work I produce and that I can contribute positively to my clients and colleagues.

What has been your most challenging and proudest moment so far?

My first-year project was competing in the Association of Project Management Challenge, an annual competition to develop Project Management professionals new to the industry. 

My cohort of apprentices and I worked with a Bristol-based Rotary Club to deliver a health and wellbeing event. Under challenging circumstances adapting to remote working due to COVID-19, I ensured that my team achieved high-quality for the competition board. 

Despite the team feeling like the 'underdog' due to our limited experience, I led the team to victory. We delivered a flawless presentation against teams with far more experience. This was a huge achievement, proving that apprentices are highly-skilled, valuable young professionals. 

This performance was recognized by ADS&T, and I received praise from my practice director, who said, "What a great achievement, you deserve a lot of credit for your contribution."

What other opportunities have you had to develop different abilities?

I've been co-project managing Core Consultancy Skills Framework. It's an internal initiative which aims to improve our consultants' core skills. My role is to regularly share thought-leadership and engage subject-matter experts to cascade messages and spotlights across the business. 

I've also had the opportunity to facilitate some of our Lunch & Learn sessions. A highlight was hosting one for Commercial Acumen with around 230 people on the call! 

How have you been able to develop in areas that interest you?

Working closely and building a good relationship with my client has helped me understand their needs better and make a positive impact on site. I've helped improve the project's communications and engagement, raising its visibility within a large and complex programme. This increased project-progress visibility has resulted in more timely and transparent tracking of deliverables and increased project performance. 

This opportunity has helped me identify that the consultancy path is for me. So, I want to continue my education and work towards a Level 6 apprenticeship in Project Management, knowing that I will have the full support of the Apprenticeship Management team. 

How has the organization supported your personal development outside of your role?

As a young woman from an ethnic minority, I'm passionate about Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I). 

I'm currently developing a thought leadership piece to improve ED&I recruitment across our Project Management Office Services & Solutions practice. I've been supported by the Apprentice and Graduate Management team, who have advised me on what key content I could include. 

This has been an excellent experience for me to look at how we can improve and further develop our ED&I culture. Also, producing practical work for my practice manager means that it will positively influence how we go about recruitment in the future. 

I have a reverse-mentoring relationship with a more senior colleague. Using what I've learnt from this piece of work, I've been able to advise them on how to develop their awareness of ED&I. 

As a junior member of staff, how do you feel trusted to get the work done?

Throughout my time at Atkins, I've been able to build a broad but strong network. And my senior colleagues value me as a highly-skilled and valuable young professional.  With my client work, senior staff allow me to take ownership of my work and contribute my ideas towards improving the wider project. Knowing that they trust and rely on me to produce high-quality work makes me feel included in the team.

Outside of your role, how are you able to make a difference at Atkins?

Recently a client director invited me to present an ED&I moment during a Market Senior Leadership call. Even though this was quite intimidating, I really appreciated speaking on a topic I value. It opened the conversation about how Atkins can be more inclusive. It was fantastic that the leadership team relied on my advice to guide them on how to improve their actions moving forward. 

I was also involved in the Living Our Values working group. It allowed me to practically implement my advice around ED&I.  I was incredibly proud that my voice has helped make our actions and behaviours more inclusive, benefitting our clients and colleagues. 

What has the organization made you realize you can do that you didn't think you could do before?

When I started working, I was very nervous about public speaking. Over time, the apprenticeship team helped me build up my network, practice in a safe environment, and develop core knowledge via internal upskill sessions. 

Since then, I've confidently led a meeting for over two hundred participants. As a result, I'm confident about developing my leadership skills by being an effective facilitator. 

When I first joined Atkins, I didn't expect to receive so many responsibilities/opportunities. I was worried that being a junior would hold me back. However, from day one, I dove headfirst into the world of work and have been given multiple projects and teams to lead.

How would you like to #BuildTheFuture?

My client work has helped me contribute to products and services that make a tangible difference to a broad audience. It's something I want to keep doing.

I also want to support our young professional community by helping them learn from my mistakes and achievements. So far, I've buddied with some of our apprentices, promoting ED&I while supporting them to meet their potential. I want to continue to do this, influencing our future leaders!

Make your next career move with Atkins

How about working in an environment where you're set up to succeed? Browse apprenticeships at Atkins to find out where a career with us could take you.

Are you still you looking for more insight? Check out our project management content to hear more stories like Tasmin's and read our blogs about adding value as a project manager, strategic project management and more.