Degree Apprenticeship helps Director take business to the next level

The Director of a North West social enterprise hails the impact studying a degree apprenticeship has had on his business.

Ibrar Syed, 44, is the Programme Director of Enterprising Habits Ltd; a Burnley-based social enterprise that provides a range of services to communities across the North-West. He graduated from the MBA degree apprenticeship (now Business Administration (Executive)) in August 2020.

Talking about why lifelong learning is vital to his business, Ibrar explains, “it’s extremely important to keep up to date with current market knowledge and upskill so we can continuously improve the business processes, develop system thinking and strategically plan for foreseeable future in changing environment. The course also helped me develop sharp focus, gain knowledge about a variety of management tools such as Gantt Chart, risk register, business canvas, a balanced scorecard and Belbin methodology to develop high performance team.”

“Learning about Belbin and characteristics of employee’s including myself as Plant and Resource investigator resonated closely with my work style. Reflection on action allowed me to carefully examine the mistakes I made and highlighted the good practices which helped me to accomplish challenging goals. Tools such as PESTLE enabled me to use horizon scanning and understand the current challenges Ehabits is faced with and exploit new opportunities.”

Ibrar has been so impressed with the impact of the course on his business he decided to offer the opportunity to study on the course to his colleague, Anam Zubair. Anam completed the course in January 2023, when she gained a distinction in the apprenticeship End Point Assessment.

Ibrar explains, “she started the year after me. I told her about the pros and commitment needed and after some consideration she decided to go for it!” Anam was unsure about whether she could afford the time to supply, but with the support of her tutors she fully engaged in the study and has seen huge benefits to her skills and knowledge in the workplace.’’

Ibrar Syed and Anam Zubair at UCLan Burnley Campus
Ibrar Syed and Anam Zubair at UCLan Burnley Campus

Ibrar highlighted the benefits of studying alongside other professionals that work in different industries, “I was the only person on the course that came from a not-for-profit social enterprise, where we are required to wear a number of hats and become a jack-of-all-trades. However, it was great to hear how other people tackle similar problems in different companies. One of my classmates worked for Rolls Royce and it was interesting to see how their advanced software’s and systems can speed things up and bring efficiencies.”

When asked about whether he would recommend the course to others, Ibrar was keen to highlight the commitment needed to be successful, “It was very challenging. At times it was hard because I was balancing education, work, and family, as a proud father of three. I made some sacrifices. However, it was all worth it in the end. It was a great personal achievement, and it has had a positive impact on the business. I actually changed my business whilst I was on the course and received advice from my tutors to help with the changes.”

"I would recommend the degree apprenticeship programme for those individuals pursuing their own vision for change in an environment where they gained first-hand experience."

Ibrar Syed MBA degree apprenticeship (now Business Administration (Executive))

“I really enjoyed studying in Burnley. The tutors were all supportive and helped me when I needed it. We had a class of around 10 people from a wide range of industries including UKHE. We learnt a lot from each other.”

“My first degree had been in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, but I realised that I didn’t like working in a lab. I liked meeting people and helping them. So, I wanted to change careers which is how I ended up working in social enterprise. I wanted to work for passion, not for pension. I’d had a few years away from education and the tutors on the course helped me readjust.”

Ibrar, originally from Pakistan, hopes his positive experience can inspire others to return to education via a degree apprenticeship. “It has been a great experience for me. I’ve learnt so much. It has been challenging but it was worth it. I’m proud of my achievements. The programme helped me develop sharp focus, big thinking and how to develop a high-performance non-profit organisation.”