Dorothy Laidler headshot

From apprentice to project manager

Indigo Career Path Q&A with Dorothy Laidler, Project Manager

Dorothy completed her Indigo apprenticeship in January, a Level 4 diploma in project management that she achieved 13 months ahead of schedule. She was praised by her manager for “hard work and commitment that was recognised both internally and externally”. Here she talks about her experience and why the job comes so naturally to her.

 

How did your career path take you to Indigo?

Having worked in events management and fund raising for a charity, I knew that a managerial role and project work suited me. I hadn’t wanted to go to university, I’d always wanted to get stuck into a job that could give me experience and a career path. So when I saw that Indigo was offering an apprenticeship in project management, it felt like a natural fit for what I wanted to do.

How was your apprenticeship structured?

Indigo put me on a Level 4 diploma, the equivalent to the first year in a university PM course. I got an online portfolio of coursework units which I completed in two years, qualifying in January. I worked four days a week on Indigo projects and one day a week studying. My line manager always kept a check on what was going on with the apprenticeship and helped me match my work experiences to the needs of the course. It worked really well.

What did the work experience part of it involve?

At first it was simple projects, which gave me time to get familiar with the technical side of telecoms. Indigo was careful not throw me in at the deep end and I had lots of support from senior project coordinators as well as my line manager. I received weekly feedback and there was constant dialogue about how things were going. After four months, I was moved from fibre networks to wireless to get more of a feel for larger projects and end-to-end processes.

Would you recommend an apprenticeship?

Definitely. You get real-life experience and the chance to put theory into practice in your day-to-day job. Indigo has been great because they gave me different experiences in different divisions to cover off the course work. It was really good preparation for what I do now, which is everything from document creation, financial reporting and risk assessment to different stakeholder engagements, with customer as well as on site engineers.

What do you like most about working at Indigo?

What makes these projects interesting is that you are a part of something that’s helping the community. And I like that the technology is constantly evolving – especially on the wireless side with the move from 4G to 5G. It means there will always be a demand for the type of projects we work on. Internally, I like the planning around resource management; on the stakeholder side, I enjoy the interaction with clients and working closely with them.

What are the biggest challenges?

The biggest surprise when I started was how complex some of the projects can be in terms of all the components that go into the job. It’s not just a case of going to a site and building something; there are a lot of extra elements. It’s been a learning curve, making sure you have all the moving parts in place and haven’t missed anything. And everything can change in terms of the scope of work and the kind of technology that’s used. It can be complex, but there’s always someone around in Indigo to ask for help if you get stuck.

How do your personal skills align with the work?

I really enjoy the job because I love organising and planning, key skills for project management. I also have an open mind and I’m flexible, which definitely helps. It’s an ever-changing environment with some projects; you might go in with a mindset to do something and then find yourself having to do something entirely different. It was a bit of a shock at first, but I like that no two days are the same.

Are there opportunities for career progression?

I’m really enjoying working in wireless at the moment, but there are lots of opportunities in Indigo and plenty of scope to change direction. If there are no roles available in your area, they are quite open to moving people over to another division to help employees move up the career ladder. There are lots of different support systems and colleagues on hand who will advise and help you progress. And of course, I have plenty more project manager levels to work through!

Want to know more?

If you are interested in developing your career with Indigo, please get in touch today.