Professional Practice Master’s Qualification helps TATA Steel employee to progress her leadership skills.


Kate Jenkins is an Area Production Manager at Tata Steel, Llanwern, throughout her career she has taken every opportunity to seek on the job learning and development to support her professional goals.

Kate Jenkins

Kate joined the business as a Functional Trainee 28 years ago and didn’t imagine she would ever get back into the world of education. Her employer encouraged her to undertake a work-based higher education qualification. After attending a taster session, she decided to study for an MA in Professional Practice with the Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research (WAPPAR) within UWTSD.

“Working in a business environment, I didn’t realise how much my industry knowledge and experience is worth… it’s got value, this course brings together theoretical learning and practical application. Career-wise, my qualification fits well with my ongoing professional development in the workplace. I lead a production unit manufacturing 380kt of cold rolled steel per annum and have always felt that in order to encourage and promote continuous development I need to lead by example and prove that if I can do it, with the support of the University – then anyone can.”

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. She recognises that she has enhanced her leadership and project management skills.

She said: “I feel capable of trying new things, developing, and implementing improved ways of working and making positive and sustainable changes. It has enabled me to look at strengths and areas for personal improvement, and by default encouraged me to question ways 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 full-time working Mother Kate admits it was a struggle to juggle work and studying. She said: “Personally, I have received a huge sense of achievement being able to juggle work and home life and stretch my abilities to levels I never thought I was capable of. I have developed new learning styles, expanded my reading knowledge and a newfound passion for education”

Kate said the University has supported her throughout her studies.

She added: “The tutors recognise that whilst working full time my priorities changed but challenged me to find the best academic version of myself. They were giving me constructive feedback and re-alignment when I was unclear of how best to tackle my studies."

The University is very proud of Kate’s achievement. Lecturer Sarah Loxdale said:

“Kate has excelled in her career 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.”

Kate added:  

“The experience has been one of personal and professional growth, I feel more capable to tackle challenges, making a difference and adding value. I’ve learnt so much about myself, the process has allowed me to reflect on my career, I’ve evolved and enjoyed the change.”

As a mature student, Kate wants to encourage others contemplating studying to pursue this work-based learning course.

She said: “I’m grateful for the investment from my employer, and the confidence that the University 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, test theories and learn from best practice has already proven beneficial and will continue to do so. I want to ensure 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."

Further Information

Lowri Thomas, Principal Communications and PR Officer

07449 998476