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Deb - Serco Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA)

The foundation for my house – how the CMDA gave Deborah a firm footing in her role

Deborah Rinehart, new HSE Program Manager for UK and Europe, talked to us about her experience of completing the Serco Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) and how it contributed to her recent promotion.

“I started with Serco 10 years ago in the H&S team in an administrative role. After 5 years I moved to the Resilience team which is where I started the CMDA. I had been saying to my director that I wanted to do more… I could do more… what could I do? He saw the opportunity with the CMDA and said to me ‘I think you can do this.’

I was hesitant at first because I hadn’t been in structured, formal learning for many years, and didn’t have the best experience or academic results, mainly because I’m not an exam person; I genuinely freeze in exams.

Once I knew there were no exams to sit for the CMDA, that I could demonstrate my learning through written assignments and progress at my own pace, I decided to go for it.”

The best part

“Learning about myself and others; how people learn, what motivates us, different management styles and understanding the skills market; I love all that stuff!  

Learning and understanding the theory behind what we do every day at work really gave me the foundation I was missing. Modules such as finance, digital business, economics, marketing and project management helped me see where the dots connected and understand more about Serco strategy and the marketplace we operate in. The business knowledge I now have is great.

Of course, I can’t forget the support I received, and the relationships I built with other members of my cohort. We formed a tight knit group and became a valuable support network for each other.

The best part of the experience overall though, is the achievement – proving to myself I could do it. The degree gives me something tangible to show my competence.”

Impact to my role and career

“It’s been really good to me!

The people management modules in the degree were key because I was a relatively new people manager at the time. The CMDA helped me understand how to be a better manager and what management style to use for each team member. I could put what I learned into practice right away and see the results; it made me a better manager.

Learning gave me confidence too, that I really did know what I was doing. That confidence helped my capabilities to be recognised and contributed to my recent promotion. And now, I am bringing everything I learnt into my new role!”

Personal benefits

“My daughter was at university at the same time as me, and she watched the effort I put into my assignments and saw the grades I was getting. I believe seeing my success both during the degree and since has been noticed and affected her approach to learning too; she knows now that the effort you put in is reflected in your results.

I’ve now finished the degree element of the CMDA, and got a First, which was my goal at the start. I’m now waiting for my End Point Assessment with CMI to get chartered manager status and completing the apprenticeship; I am really close to finishing!

It was a lot of work, but I have a great sense of satisfaction and achievement and I’ve proved to myself that I can do it!”

Why should someone enrol on the CMDA

“You get three qualifications in one – a L6 apprenticeship, CMI chartered manager status and a degree (BA Hons) in business management. It’s a lot of work, but a massive reward. The learning is geared towards the day job and it’s absolutely relevant to everything you do every day.

There are many opportunities to learn about topics you wouldn’t necessarily get exposure to otherwise, and chances to do practical work that supports each of the modules. Because you are learning on the job, it is possible to put what you learn into practice straight away; cementing the learning so it really helps you do your job better.

I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants more, someone looking for that challenge and opportunity to further their career or like me prove they can do it. The CMDA is a great way to get well-rounded, full picture business management learning and to be recognised with a fantastic qualification.

When you do your job, it’s like you’re looking through a porthole - you learn things specifically for your role and don’t necessarily understand the wider implications. The CMDA qualification takes you up on deck and gives you the full view.”


Deborah Rinehart was part of the CMDA cohort 1 which started in 2019 and graduating in 2021.