Member success story

08 August 2018

Following a recent article in a CMI newsletter from June Lancaster the Deputy Chair of the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside CMI Regional Board.  I was inspired to reach out and share my experiences of management at a young age and certain challenges that I had to overcome.

My career began at the age of 16 leaving school in to an advanced apprenticeship in Manufacturing which allowed me to study part time each week and achieve a qualification, whilst gaining the valuable experience I needed in the workplace. This way of gaining a higher education whilst working appealed to me and started what is now a 12 year relationship with part-time higher education.

Following on from my engineering qualifications I became interested in the ways in which large scale manufacturing companies operated and I was fascinated by the commercial side of business to business contracts & negotiation, I therefore decided to enrol in a Business and Management BA (Hons) degree through Leeds Beckett university which I saw as a useful step to enable me to work within B2B sales and contracts within manufacturing.

After 3 years of evening classes twice a week whilst holding down a full time job I achieved a 2:1 and graduated in late 2014. I remember an old college tutor telling me I’d never be able to do a degree so for me this was an important academic achievement and one in which I am particularly proud of. Following on from my graduation, a couple of months later I took my first management position at the age of 24 as a Contracts Manager. Heading up a small team it was my first ‘roll of the dice’ in to the world of management and I was keen to try and make an impression. What I found out very quickly is that the company I was working for at the time was incredibly ‘old fashioned’ and the essential support framework and development programme that today’s young managers benefit from were non-existent, often it was better to be seen and not heard. At first, I found this very difficult to overcome as it made me feel like it was my own doing, or I was doing something wrong to not have my ideas listened to, many of the other more established managers were quick to undermine me in meetings and any suggestions I made were generally overlooked. At first, I told myself it was because I was new and after a while it would subside however 2 years later and still this issue kept coming up which - looking back, I believe was down to my age and the perception that because I was young, I didn’t have anything to contribute.

After 3 years in this position I decided it was time to make a fresh start both in my career and on the higher-education ladder again and I enrolled on a part-time Executive MBA at Hull University as I wanted to improve on the skills I had learnt at Degree level to become more of a rounded professional and hopefully progress my career even further. I think it’s vitally important to always be learning and developing new skills to grow knowledge and encourage innovative ideas. On my MBA is where I became a member of CMI and I am now 1 year in to a 2 year course which will hopefully see me graduate in 2020. I now have a new managerial position at a forward thinking company who see the value in what I bring to the business along with my studies and I hope to continue my education to doctorate level on completion of my master’s degree. Those first few difficult years in management taught me that regardless of how old you are it should not matter if the ideas and suggestions you are bringing to the table are of good quality, innovative and beneficial to the vision of the organisation. Being a millennial I’m regularly looking for feedback and recognition and I understand the need for this particularly with the younger staff that we employ I think it’s really important to let them know they are valued and whether or not there are areas on which they can improve within the work environment to make their life easier or an organisational process become more efficient.

Through doing the EMBA at Hull University Business School I hope to further develop my skills in management and leadership, so I can implement them within the work place. The CMI membership is insightful and I hope to continue my membership once the MBA has finished. There is a wealth of experience in the CMI network and it’s always useful to hear from other people and listen to their journeys to share experiences and learn together.

Brett Waterhouse