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From beauty therapy to logistics management: Gemma Wade’s story

Many of us will do many different jobs over the course of our working lives. Some of us might stay in the same industry: others will branch out and do something completely different. Few people, however, will have done something quite as unusual as Gemma Wade. Gemma originally trained to be a beauty therapist, but after successfully completing her Level 3 Management CPC at Transport Training Academy, she now works in logistics in her father’s haulage business. What prompted this unusual career change? How did she find the experience? Well, here’s what she had to say.

What jobs did you do before you changed career paths and started working in logistics?

“I did quite a few different jobs before I finally made the move. After leaving school I went and did NVQs and a modern apprenticeship in administration and customer service. Ironically I then started working for a packaging company who had their own transport department, but I never got involved in that side of things then. After that I decided I wanted to do something different, so I went working in homecare. I wanted to work with people with learning difficulties, and fortunately I got accepted on an Access to Health course at Wigan and Leigh College in order to eventually get into Salford University.”

“In the summer before I started the course I was strapped for cash, so I started looking for work. Unfortunately there were no jobs available to me that didn’t involve travelling or moving away. I had a 5 year old daughter at the time, so travelling wasn’t really an option. I was then fortunate to find a job in beauty in 2006 which suited my home circumstances. I carried on doing that for a number of years, and worked for myself for 5 years.”

What prompted the career change to logistics then?

“The main reason was my Dad. He’s worked in haulage all of his life. He needed help with the business and realised that it made more sense to employ me rather than pay somebody else. He asked me if I wanted to join him, and go on a course and learn all about haulage. I jumped at the chance. Not only was it good to work with my Dad, but it was also seemed like a big challenge. I think at that stage of my career that’s what I needed as I was getting bored doing the same thing every day. I wanted a job that was more challenging and stimulating.”

Why did you choose to do your Management CPC qualification at Transport Training Academy?

“Well, I had a look online and found several places were offering the course. Unfortunately many of the training courses were based in other parts of the country. I still had to think about my daughter’s welfare, so that wasn’t really an option for me. I then found Transport Training Academy online, and gave them a ring to discuss things. I liked what I heard, so after speaking to my Dad I booked myself on the course.”

How did you find the course?

“Well, it was enjoyable, but if I’m being honest I have to say it was hard. I hadn’t any background knowledge about transport and logistics, and I decided that I didn’t want to go on the course blind. So I picked up the course materials before I started. I reckoned that at least in that way I could get my head around what I was getting into. Unfortunately when I picked up the course work, I seriously started to wonder whether I’d bitten off more than I could chew. I really didn’t understand most of what I read.”

“But I went any way, and I’m really glad I did persevere. The tutor was nice and very helpful. I didn’t have the same type and depth of experience as other people on the course, but didn’t hold me back or put me at a disadvantage. The tutors went out of their way to be helpful, and gave me support and encouragement when I needed it most. They were also honest about what sort of challenges I was likely to face. They told me it would be hard work, and in that they were definitely right. But they also told me that they would do whatever it took to help me through the course, and that’s exactly what they did. ”

Did you find the learning experience difficult?

“Oh – definitely. It was hard work and very intensive, but I was fortunate in that I could afford to put my own job on the backburner for a couple of weeks and focus purely on the course. I probably had to work a little harder than some others on the course because I had no background knowledge or experience in the industry, but all the hard work paid off in the end.”

Do you think your Level 3 Management CPC has been beneficial now you’re working in the industry?

“Definitely. It’s given me knowledge, but best of all it’s given me confidence and a sense of self- belief. I’m a realist of course, and I understand that there’s still a lot more for me to learn, but now I’ve got my qualification I’m not afraid of facing these challenges. Getting my Level 3 gave me the boost I needed. Now I want to continue my learning experience and plan to get my HGV licence.”

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