Modern Apprenticeship in Management – Matt Gibson, JK Thomson

Enoch Robinson - QA Manager at JK Thomson awarding Matt Gibson with his  Modern Apprenticeship in Management, SCQF Level 7 Certificate.
JK Thomson -  Modern Apprenticeship in Management

It was great to catch up with Matt Gibson recently, who works in the Technical Department at JK Thomson, about his career at JK Thomson and his experience completing the Modern Apprenticeship in Management, SCQF Level 7.

Matt has been with JK Thomson for 5.5 years now having previously worked as a Quantity Surveyor. 


Learning the Ropes at JK Thomson

Joining JK Thomson was quite a change he remembers, from being mainly based in an office to suddenly learning how to fillet fish, finding out how all aspects of the line works through to weighing at the end of the line.

This was the start of a number of rotations designed to give Matt an in-depth awareness of the business and led to Matt going on to work for a year in the wholesale department, learning about intake, transport and all that is involved here before moving to work in the office.   Here he found out about what is required from the office side to keep things moving including understanding the software that runs the factory and supporting with IT issues, while learning from the IT company that supports JK Thomson.


Moving into Management

Matt’s first exposure to a management role was in the wholesale team when he had the opportunity to work there for two years as a manager.  He had just finished his rotations and it was while working here that he found out about the Modern Apprenticeship in Management. 

For Matt it made a lot of sense:

“I had already completed the Modern Apprenticeship Level 3 in Food and Drink Operations and the Leadership and Management Essentials Endorsed by the ILM, so this was a natural progression and fitted well with my role and responsibilities in the wholesale department”.


Matt’s Current Role

I asked Matt what he enjoys about the role his current role in the Technical Department:

“It has really helped that I have worked in different departments across the business.  It means that I know a lot of different people and I also have a good understanding of how things work and what the issues are.  When we are trying to improve things and implement change, I have a better idea of what is or is not going to work that I might otherwise have had”.

One of Matt’s main projects has been improving the way the software works for running the factory after having travelled to Denmark two years ago with Enoch Robinson QA Manager, to see what its potential could be:

“It has helped to have a vision and picture of where we want to be and where we could be, and then we have been going through the process to get better information, sorting out problems, getting everyone on board and adding in new modules to enable us to get closer to a place where we will have all the information that we need gathered and available in one place and easy for everyone to access, whatever their role”.


Thoughts on the Modern Apprenticeship in Management

Matt had just started as a manager when we first suggested to him that he might want to complete this qualification and for him the timing was perfect: a great way to learn more about the role he had taken on and what he needed to consider as a supervisor.

I asked Matt how the qualification has helped him in his role:

“It was good having a range of modules to work on and overall, it has helped me to look at things differently.  I now recognise the importance of sharing the bigger picture and being clear on each person’s contribution to that on a project or with a task.  It is not enough just to tell someone what to do.  I also realised the importance of communicating well and regularly with people.  Overall it has made me think about what I do as a manager on a day to day basis.

Then, when it comes to appraisals, these used to be once a year, but I am doing more regular catch-ups now which has helped a lot, especially when implementing so many things in the business.  Linked to this, setting objectives is really helping.  I now set out what I am going to do or work out what we need to and work out a plan rather than just reacting all the time.”

We also talked about what Matt learnt on training and coaching:

“We have a lot of different nationalities here and I learnt quickly that people pick up information in different ways.  One person just learned on the job, others prefer work instructions first.  Now I can recognise different learning styles and think through what is the right approach to get the best from each person.”

I asked Matt about the volume of work, and the mix of learning and evidence gathering:

“There is quite a bit to do but I found I got into a routine and would set aside evidence as part of my daily work- I knew what I would need and as I did a task, if it was relevant to the qualification, I set aside the evidence.  It was good to have all the learning and then have to provide evidence that I had applied that learning- it makes you put into practise what you are learning.”

We talked a bit about future roles and how this programme will help Matt going forward:

“I haven’t thought much about what happens next, but I can see that in a different role there will be different things that I will pull out from this programme and apply.  That is one of the benefits of it.”

Finally, we talked about whether Matt would recommend this Modern Apprenticeship to other people:

“This was different from anything that I had done before.  The mix of materials to read through and the activities to work on worked well for me.  In the workplace, it is easy to get bogged down in your job and just keep working but it was great to step back a bit, look at my role as a manager and see the bigger picture.  Even getting witness testimonies and feedback from colleagues in a variety of roles on how they think you are doing as a manager is a great experience and something that you don’t normally get the chance to do.  I would definitely recommend this to other managers.”

To finish off, we asked for Enoch’s thoughts on how Matt has progressed as a result of this learning experience:

“Matt is now more confident in dealing with people, he is able to get his message across better and he explains the whole picture to them, helping them to understand what and why the work matters, making people more receptive to what is being asked”.

Our team greatly enjoyed working with Matt on his Modern Apprenticeship qualification and it is great to hear how much he got from it.  We are sure that he will continue to thrive in his role and in whatever learning he decides to do next.


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