TATA Steel Production Manager graduates from UWTSD.


12.07.2021

Kate Jenkins, is an Area Production Manager at Tata Steel, Llanwern and throughout her 26 year career with the organisation she has taken every opportunity to seek further development in order to fulfil her role and advance within the business. After leaving school, Kate’s plan was to go to University, but decided that it wasn’t the right time for her, so she started as a functional trainee at Tata Steel. Over the years, Kate has been committed to professional development, so much so that she was keen to revisit the prospect of undertaking a Higher Education pathway.

Kate Jenkins

“When you work for a business…, you don’t realise how much that industry knowledge and experience is worth… it’s got value, and I don’t think people appreciate that. All of the knowledge and skillset that you gain can be transferred into a qualification with UWTSD. If you’re interested in developing, you can. If you are keen to progress, there are pathways available to help you.”

Kate decided to study for an MA in Professional Practice with the Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research (WAPPAR) within UWTSD after her work encouraged her and gave her the confidence to undertake a work-based higher education course. After attending a few taster days with the University, she was interested in finding out more about courses that WAPPAR could offer, as she thought it would help her with her career development and provide valuable learning that could be applied to her role.  At first she wasn’t confident that studying a course at this level would be suitable for her, but with some help, coaching and reassurance from the team at WAPPAR together with sponsorship from Tata Steel, Kate decided to pursue her studies.

During her studies, she has seen that the course has helped her to structure her approach a bit better. Kate said: “As there’s a lot of reflective practice within the course, it has helped me to look back on my work-based practice and to identify what worked and what didn’t work previously in our operations. Being able to reflect on events or activities has helped me implement some structures, systems and frameworks, to make fact-based decisions and improve my leadership skills.”

The Professional Practice course consists of different modules, work based projects, and research theories and methodologies. Kate now uses these elements and applies them to her day to day work. Kate recognises that she has developed leadership skills whilst studying this course. “It enables you to look at your strengths and areas for personal improvement, and by default encourages you to question your way of working, not just looking at why or how I do things but how we work collectively as a team to achieve results”

As a forty four year old full time working mother Kate admits that it has been a struggle to juggle fulltime work and studying. Kate was fortunate enough to have the support of Tata steel to attend the taught sessions, but the one to one meetings with her lecturers were very flexible and happened as and when she needed them.

“Balancing a family, work and study has been a challenge, and a big commitment, but the structure and flexibility has really worked for me. The MA was something I didn’t think I was capable of doing, I’ve really surprised myself”

One thing Kate likes about the course is how the University has managed to help her throughout her studies. According to her, the lecturers have been very supportive. They’re aware of the other commitments she has, and have been very understanding and supportive.

The University is very proud of Kate’s achievement. Lecturer Sarah Loxdale said: ”Kate has excelled and her MA in Professional Practice has enabled her to gain academic credit for the learning she has previously undertaken ‘on the job’ together with acquiring new knowledge that can be used in her role. The bespoke programme designed for Kate ensured that her learning was relevant to her day to day practice and that it met with both her personal and organisational learning and development goals. It has been a pleasure for the team at WAPPAR to support Kate in her studies and we wish her well for the future”.

Kate is glad that she’s completed the course. After being asked many times why she decided to go back to studying, she admits that it has been very beneficial. As a mature student, Kate would encourage others that are contemplating studying to pursue this work-based learning course, a pathway that is embedded in your work-based practice.

“I’m grateful for the investment from my employer, and the confidence that the Uni tutors have given me to think I was worthy of this level of qualification, I feel more academically capable. Being able to use this work based experience and bring the theory to life has already proven beneficial and will continue to do so. I want to ensure that the steel industry in Wales continues for the future, by having the right blend of experience, knowledge and passion I feel better equipped to be part of that long term success.

“I’m looking forward to graduating – I’m really chuffed that my kids will be able to see this, as I want to be a role-model for them.”

Further Information

Lowri Thomas, Principal Communications and PR Officer 

07449 998476 / lowri.thomas@uwtsd.ac.uk