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Melanie Thompson

Career Path: Operations Director, Virtual College
Location: Durham, UK

Following on from the completion of my degree in Education, I also completed my A1 Assessors Award and I started work as an assessor for Teaching Assistant qualifications. This led to me working for Baltic Training Services as an Operations Assistant and Assessor. After a few short months I was promoted to Internal Auditor (I undertook further training for this role), after 12 months I was promoted to Quality and Compliance Manager. I left Baltic Training Services in 2013 to set up my own company, AuditFE, which provided quality and compliance support to training providers across the North of England. Virtual College became one of my clients and I supported them with a range of services within their apprenticeship division. An opportunity arose to head up the apprenticeship provision within Virtual College and as I had enjoyed having them as a client so much, I decided to join them firstly as a part time employee in January 2016, whilst still running my business, but eventually as a full-time employee in September 2017.

What are you doing now?Melanie Thompson

In my role as Operations Director of the VC Apprenticeships Division, I am responsible for the day-to-day running of the department which includes: budgetary forecasting, setting of objectives and KPI's, monitoring of performance against KPI's, overseeing quality and compliance of the department, and ensuring high quality delivery of education for our learners, as well as much more. It is a role where I am required to wear many hats and be able to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of working in Further Education which can sometimes change daily. I do however have a team that works alongside me and together we are able to ensure that quality remains high on our agenda.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

I undertook my first degree after having my first two daughters and was aged 27.I was nervous about going to University at that age and worried about being surrounded by 18 year old's. However, my experience was very different to what I expected, Northumbria caters for mature students well, you don’t feel out of the loop.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

The teaching is second to none and the social aspect was also enjoyable.

What was the best thing about your course?

The teaching was second to none and during the degree I realised I was more suited to Post 16 education. The degree enabled me to enter further education for a career as the course gave me the knowledge which allowed me to assess and train teaching assistants within primary schools.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

Studying at both degree level and MSc, in addition to specific subject matter has given me skills to be able to continue to develop myself independently to ensure long term employability.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

Initially I had intended to become a Primary School Teacher, hence my original degree. However during the course of the degree I realised I was more suited to Post 16 education, my degree enabled me to enter Further Education for a career as the degree gave me the foundation knowledge to allow me to assess and train teaching assistants within primary schools.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

Returning to University this year, as I approach my 40th birthday, the way Northumbria embraces mature students, was the reason I decided to complete my MSc at the university, and to my surprise no-one has even noticed that I am almost 40 yet! I feel like I am fitting right in with the young ones.

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

Northumbria is a great place to study, even if you are a mature student.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Second to none

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