I am delighted to have started working with Kiwi Education to deliver the new Digital Marketer Apprenticeship (being updated in 2024 to the Multi-Channel Marketer Apprenticeship).  They asked me to write them a blog to introduce myself, and I’m pleased to share that here.

I’m Claire and I’m a Chartered Marketer.  I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a Marketer; solicitor was top of the list for a long while at school, Dad’s influence, but I also considered dentist (for about a fortnight, sorry Mum!).  I enjoy reading, history and love a good debate so A Levels in English Literature, History and Politics seemed obvious choices; in the late 1980’s, college was what more or less everyone was doing.

I quite enjoyed the A Level experience, if you ignore the impact of having been the first year to have taken GCSEs; I’ll never forget the look on my history teacher’s face when it dawned on her that she had a class of students who’d never written a history essay before!  These subjects didn’t really inform my career choices, but I enjoyed them and so University beckoned; a History & Politics degree.  My first year was the last year to receive both a maintenance grant and have my tuition fees paid so I realise how lucky I was compared to today’s students.

After three years at Uni, I was ready to start earning some money and so, with no clearer career ideas, I joined a temping agency.  On one of the rare occasions that I had listened to Mum’s advice as a teenager, I had taken typing lessons in between A Levels (“Computers seem to be running everything these days,” said Mum, circa September 1988.  “I expect knowing your way around a keyboard will be a useful skill.”)  My 50 words-per-minute typing speed meant that the agency was able to send me on warm, dry, 9-5-type jobs, rather than packing crisps on shift-work like some of my friends were doing.

It was on one such assignment that I found my way into a Sales & Marketing office for the first time.  I wasn’t particularly interested in the products, but the customers fascinated me; who they were, what they did with our products, the relationships I was building with them over the ‘phone.  (We didn’t have email in the office then; UK orders would come in by fax and international orders by telex machine!)

I realised that these customer relationships were what they called ‘Marketing’ so I start a Chartered Institute of Marketing evening class at college to learn while I was working.

Something else you need to know about me is that I am a Scout.  Dad was a Scout and then a Scout leader, Mum had been a Guide and helped at Scouts too, and I had 30 ‘honorary’ older brothers until I was about 5 years old.  As an adult, I had become a Scout leader and found it – still find it! – really rewarding to be part of.

So, in November 2000 when I spotted a job advertised for Marketing Manager at a local Apprenticeship provider, it felt like fate: my personal and professional lives coming together.  Fortunately, I got the job.

Having spent the first 28 years of my life with no contact whatever with the world of Apprenticeships, my mind was completely blown by what incredible opportunities an Apprenticeship could offer.  I quickly became evangelical about them, telling every Year 11 I met that I wish I’d had such a variety of options when I’d left school.

The next step in my journey was to employ Apprentices myself.  Having moved on to a role in a College, at one stage I line-managed five Apprentices, two of whom announced that they wanted to do Apprenticeships in Marketing.  “Great,” said the College Apprenticeship team, “but we don’t have anyone to lead that…”  Never one to pass up a learning opportunity, I agreed that I would do my Assessor qualification, so I could help them through it.  (I still feel sorry for those two lads; I was their Manager and their Assessor for a time so there was just no escaping me!).

That was nearly four years ago but I am just as excited to now be taking the next step in my Apprenticeship journey; a new learning opportunity and a new group of Apprentices, working with Kiwi Education on their first intake to the new Digital Marketer Apprenticeship standard.

Looking back at my own experiences for this blog and realising how many changes in education I have seen, I can’t help thinking that the most revolutionary change could just be these new Apprenticeship Standards, and I’m excited that my skills and experiences so far have lead me too a point that I can be a part of that.

What will be next in my Apprenticeship journey?  I guess perhaps the only step I haven’t taken is being an Apprentice myself.  A friend is tackling the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship at the grand old age of 50 – much respect – so never say never!