Meet Aspire’s Quality Manager

In this week’s series of ‘Meet the Team’, we sit down with Nicola Hicks at Aspire Procurement Training to hear all about her career in education and what she gets up to in her role as Quality Manager.

What is your background?
After achieving a degree in Business, I joined City & Guilds where I managed quality and compliance of colleges across the United Kingdom before moving into customer account management. Later, I qualified as an assessor and supported students wanting to achieve their NVQs and also had the opportunity to complete a variety of teaching qualifications throughout my role. 

I joined Aspire Procurement Training in 2018 when there were just six students studying an apprenticeship in procurement and supply. I was employed to support our apprentices and drive growth in this area of the business. Through determination, commitment and a lot of hard work, Aspire was awarded main provider in March 2022 and has now trained over 100 apprentices!

How did you fall into the role you are in now?
I was inspired by Mark Parker, one of the Directors here at Aspire. Mark wanted me to lead on Aspire’s journey towards becoming a main apprenticeship provider. I took on the challenge; developing knowledge and understanding of the procurement apprenticeship standards and implementing essential systems, processes and procedures.

I also studied the CIPS Level 4 Diploma in Procurement and Supply so that I could support my coaching and commercial experience with sound theoretical procurement knowledge. This also supports our apprentices in my role of a skills coach. 

Now in my role as Quality Manager, I ensure that Aspire’s apprenticeship provision is compliant and meets the high expectations of our learners, their employers, and external regulators. 

What does your role involve?
My role is to ensure our apprentices and their employers have a fulfilling and rewarding learner journey. I manage this journey so that all touch points meet their expectations.

This includes delivering inductions, creating tailored programmes which will develop procurement skills along with knowledge, mentoring and coaching. I also manage processes and procedures to ensure we are compliant with all apprenticeship requirements and regulations. 

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The thing I enjoy most about my role is meeting and getting to know our students, supporting their learner journeys and most of all their successes with their exams – I know the effort that is put into an apprenticeship.

What is the hardest part of your job?
I think most people will say this but there really isn’t enough hours in the day! 

What advice would you give to somebody considering studying CIPS or pursuing an apprenticeship in procurement?
Apprenticeships in Procurement and Supply will certainly improve an employee’s work performance, teaching valuable skills. Not only this, but procurement is also an interesting and varied profession and the apprenticeship is an excellent alternative to University. Over time, you can achieve the MCIPS accreditation which is equivalent to a degree, so it truly is a fantastic opportunity!

Thinking about studying CIPS? If you would like Nicola and the rest of the team at Aspire to help you achieve your apprenticeship in procurement supply, please click here to contact us. 

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