From Administrator to Ops Manager, Caitlin’s apprenticeship sees her ride a wave of opportunity
Operations Manager Caitlin Fallows has only been with Serco for six months but has already been promoted from a Business Administration role to be the Operations Manager for Serco Defence’s International Nuclear Services (INS) contract. Originally joining the team to complete an 18 month Business Administration apprenticeship, Caitlin has seen first-hand the benefit of gaining on the job experience and recognition of her skills.
“I accepted the apprentice role at Serco because I wanted to gain the Business Administration qualification,” Caitlin said. “I’d had other jobs previously, but I didn’t have any formal qualifications and thought the Business Admin one would be great because it’s transferrable.”
After starting her apprenticeship in July 2020, Caitlin enjoyed being part of the INS team located at Barrow-in-Furness. A few months later when her manager left, Contract Manager Guy Barker asked Caitlin to interview for the newly vacant Operations Manager role. “From what they’d seen of my work they thought I’d be well suited to the job, so I went for the interview. To be honest, if they hadn’t asked me, I would never have applied for it and didn’t think I would get it. The whole process was a bit of a whirlwind and then to my surprise they offered me the role.”
“I officially moved into my new role on 5 November and I am loving it so far. The Operations Manager role has more to sink my teeth into and every day is different. It has been a bit tricky managing my apprenticeship alongside a new job, but I can see what I’m learning is directly applicable in the role.
“Guy has been very supportive and encouraged me to continue the apprenticeship programme and keep my college day separate. I’ve found I am good at working under pressure and am better at planning because I know I have got one less day in the office than everyone else.”
As Operations Manager, Caitlin covers a range of activities, from ensuring there is someone on duty 24/7 in the INS report centre which receives reports from vessels at sea; to supporting the team to prepare for a monthly meeting with the INS customer; to confirming detailed voyage proposals are completed correctly; to managing the contract’s business continuity planning.
Caitlin’s advice to anyone considering an apprenticeship is to give it a go. “I was nervous about starting my programme, wondering if I would be one of the oldest people there among people who were straight out of school. But there is a mix of ages on my course and it feels like we’re all the same, all coming from a job to focus on achieving this qualification. It’s definitely worth it.”