Project manager and business consultant, Meredith Williams recently achieved a Diploma of Project Management through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). In this story Meredith discusses, career pivoting in uncertain times, gaining skills through working rather than studying, and the value of turning her career experience into qualifications through RPL.
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Meredith’s Career Journey
Like many of our talented recognition of prior learning graduates, Meredith was first and foremost educated in the school of life. While most of her high school friends went off to university, Meredith decided she wanted to get straight into the workforce.
Meredith’s career started in customer service for small businesses in a variety of industries including retail and a medical practice. Then Meredith moved into the financial services sector, where she spent the next 20 years working for organisations in Australia and the UK, in a variety of roles across different segments of the industry. That is also where Meredith cut her teeth on project management work.
Meredith says her career was an evolution rather than a direct trajectory.
“There were opportunities within the larger national and global firms, and I was privileged to have great mentors. That guidance meant that I saw business more broadly than just technical expertise in a specific industry. I was always interested in how businesses operated as a whole.”
As a result of her big picture business focus, Meredith’s career evolved into consulting work, and eventually to running her own consultancy.
“I’ve worked with a number of small business owners, helping experts in their field identify business skills gaps. It was a case of sharing big business thinking and translating it to help smaller businesses navigate some of the challenges of compliance, regulations, people management and so on.”
The consultancy grew organically on the back of referral business, Meredith’s passion for the work and her desire for a better work-life balance.
“I wanted a consulting business that would allow me to work as much or as little as I wanted to, so that I could be in a position to take on some volunteer work and start giving back.”
And then COVID hit and changed the business landscape completely.
In this strange year of 2020 we have been speaking a lot about the importance of adaptability, flexibility and the ability to make a career pivot when necessary. And now is definitely one of those times.
And Meredith did just that. She had received a couple of very appealing job offers in her field and decided to take a full-time position to anchor her through economic uncertainty.
The role she took is very much focussed on managing specific projects.
Meredith says she enjoys project management because of the diversity and opportunity to put the skillset into place in a variety of different ways and environments. “It’s the diversity and cross-sector opportunity that really keeps me interested,” she says.
Based on Meredith’s accumulating project experience, she decided to look into converting her broad project management experience into a qualification.
Recognition of Prior Learning – Formalising skills learnt in the school of life
Back when Meredith was first setting up her consultancy she says she “stalked” the career paths of others who had successfully set up the type of business she was envisioning. And she discovered that one had gained qualifications through Churchill Education.
Meredith had been thinking about her lack of qualifications and thought recognition of prior learning would be a great value add for her business proposition.
“When I’m talking to clients that don’t know me from a bar of soap, I can demonstrate nationally recognised qualifications that show that my experience is current and compliant with today’s requirements and qualification standards.”
In 2019 Meredith achieved three great qualifications:
- BSB51918 Diploma of Leadership and Management
- BSB50215 Diploma of Business
- BSB50415 Diploma of Business Administration
And this year (2020) Meredith got back in touch to convert her experience into BSB51415 Diploma of Project Management.
The Recognition of Prior Learning experience
How was the RPL process?
“The staff were all great. I was given clear advice, direction, and very prompt feedback. There was nothing onerous about it. It was simply a case of understanding what was required, submitting the documents and leaving it all with the team.”
How did it feel to have your experience converted into nationally recognised qualifications?
“It was satisfying. And reassuring that the skills and competencies I had built up were recognised. It was extremely valuable to have Churchill to guide me through.”
What advice do you have for others who might have a lot of great experience but not necessarily qualifications?
“Don’t second guess what you are capable of, and the value of your accumulated experiences. Get that piece of paper. Definitely go for it, because your skillset is saleable.”
Plans for the Future…
At this point in time Meredith says she is happy fulfilling a role with a values-based organisation that she feels aligned with. And she is enjoying the opportunity to utilise her project management skillset. “I’m very blessed to have an employment opportunity to ride out this period,” she says.
When the world feels a bit more certain, Meredith says she will be open to exploring other options, including in project management, and says,
“My qualifications are a very marketable commodity”.
The ability to adapt to change is an increasingly important skill, and the flexibility to make a career pivot when required is key aspect to future proofing your career. Make sure your experience is fully reflected in nationally recognised qualifications so that you can easily demonstrate the value and transferability of your skills when it’s time to make a change.