For 37 year old Levon Bardakjian, combining his day to day team management role at National Lottery operator Camelot’s Watford office and studying a Level 5 Apprenticeship in Project Manager has been challenging. However, he is pleased to have taken it on and to see where it helps take him in his future career.
Levon has had a long career in customer service roles and worked for his previous firm for 10 years before joining Camelot in 2018. He explains: : “I loved my previous role but was sadly made redundant. I knew a few people who were at Camelot and I applied and joined the newly formed Social Media Engagement Team, managing nine people and working closely with other customer facing team leaders. My team are responsible for answering all of the social media messages we get each day and they work in shifts, starting at 7.45am and finishing at 11pm. It’s a great job, very busy and when we have a big draw (the current National Lottery EuroMillions jackpot is an estimated £184m), we can deal with a staggering number of messages, some days over 50% up on a typical week.”
With around 3,500 messages a week and overseeing the content, quality and speed of the replies, Levon has found it hard to focus on studying. “When I was at university it was easy to focus just on studying, I had no other real responsibilities in life. Now with the disruption caused by Covid and things that happen in your personal life as you get older, for example I recently moved house, it is definitely more difficult to do.”
Levon was recommended for training by his line manager as part of an upskilling programme, and although apprehensive he thinks it is important to broaden his skills and help fill in any gaps in experience or knowledge. “There are a lot of different skills needed to manage a project, and not just people skills. I didn’t have much experience of dealing with the financial side of a project for example so it is useful to learn about this.”
Learning at this level involves tutor led masterclasses followed up with written assignments, professional discussions to assess understanding and running your own project. “I’m supposed to spend about 20% of my working week on the training and it is hard, especially when there is an urgent work email or issue to deal with. I do however manage to get it all done and I’m grateful for what I’ve learned.”
Levon is now in the final stages of his assessment and completes a reflective log in which he lists the real life work situations, what his thinking and decision making was and if it is different because of what he has learned.
“It has definitely changed me as a manager, from basic things such as how I conduct meetings to get the best results, to handling issues with my team. Looking ahead now I can now see the opportunities for me to perhaps get involved with other areas of the business, maybe with third party suppliers on different projects and to find new, more effective ways of working and reporting. It’s really got me thinking which is good and I think there is definitely a benefit to upskilling at this stage in my career for whatever lies ahead.”