Tina Thompson is on track to complete her apprenticeship in rail

57-year-old, Fleet Procurement Safety and Assurance Manager, Tina Thompson enrolled on CIRO’s Level 5 Operations Manager Apprenticeship to fine-tune her leadership skills and benefit her role at London North Eastern Railway (LNER).

Over the past two years, Tina has dedicated seven hours a week to on-the-job training alongside her current role. She is now due to complete her Level 5 apprenticeship in May 2024.

Tina commented: “When starting the apprenticeship, I was quite shocked about the value of the qualification. The course opens up a world of opportunities. It’s recognised across your business as well as the wider rail industry.

“I already have management CIPD Certificates and a Degree in Railway Operations Management awarded by CIRO, so I assumed that the apprenticeship would be instinctual for me. So far, I have been challenged much more than I ever imagined and have truly been pushed outside of my comfort zone.
“I believe that an apprenticeship with CIRO can lay the foundations for anybody who wants to advance in their career.”

Initially enrolling on the course to continue her professional development, Tina has grown in confidence and gained important management skills.

Tina said: “I’m very much a theory-type person. I am comfortable researching, writing reports, and creating discussion papers. During my apprenticeship, I’ve been encouraged to speak and give presentations. I can now stand up and deliver a presentation in front of a large group of people without hesitation.

“I know that if an opportunity is available which allows me to operate in a ‘Head of’ position, I would now have the confidence to do that.”

During her studies, Tina received regular reviews from her CIRO coach and line manager to guide her development opportunities. Tina expressed her appreciation for her mentors and commented: “At one point of my apprenticeship, I was split between two major projects which consumed a lot of my time. The team at CIRO had a genuine understanding of balancing full-time work and studying. They allowed me to step away from the apprenticeship for a couple of months so that I could focus on work and give my learning 100% when I returned.”

During her two years on the apprenticeship, Tina has also had a unique opportunity to expand her professional network and reach out to other industry experts outside of London North Eastern Railway.
“An aspect that I’ve really enjoyed is conversing face-to-face with other individuals who are in a different part of the railway business than me. It’s allowed me to meet professionals outside the fleet procurement and safety sector.”

As she reaches the final stages of her learning, Tina is looking towards her next stage of professional affiliation and will soon upgrade her CIRO membership to Fellow.

Speaking about her career aspirations, Tina expressed her desire to offer guidance and support to future apprenticeship learners. “It would be nice to regenerate something back into the industry that helped me progress personally. I would love to be an active mentor for other people going through their studies.” Added Tina.

The 27-month programme consists of 11 face-to-face teaching days with an extra six months of study for the employer Gateway assessment and End-point assessment (EPA). The apprenticeship offers Tina the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by applying her leadership theory to the workplace. This has allowed her to operate at a higher strategic level throughout the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) project and enhance her decision-making skills.

An apprenticeship with CIRO is an ideal way to continue your rail operations career, combining study with ‘real-time’ on-the-job training. Developed by employers to form progressive career pathways, CIRO apprenticeships incorporate the knowledge, skills and behaviours defined for today’s rail industry. As a recognised OFQUAL End-point Assessment Organisation, CIRO offers a cost-effective and meaningful EPA for all its apprenticeship standards.

If you’re interested, visit the apprenticeship page here: view our Apprenticeships.
Alternatively, contact the CIRO team at: apprentice@railwayoperators.co.uk