In the next in our series of meet the team articles we talk to Lisa Andrews, Head of Operations at SIAS. Lisa joined the team in August 2021 and here she talks about her transition from a former Apprentice to the world of training and End Point Assessment.
Thanks for joining us Lisa, can you start by letting our readers know who you are and what your role is at SIAS?
“I’m Lisa Andrews and I’m the Head of Operations at SIAS. I’m responsible for the operation and delivery of all end-point assessments, so that’s very much from the point of registration of new apprentices that come through to SIAS, right the way through to delivery of the assessments and results being issued.
“I have a team of administrators and end-point assessment co-ordinators that look after the day-to-day planning of assessments, and, together, we ensure that SIAS delivers a high-quality level of service to all of our employers and training providers. What’s key for us is engagement with all of our customers across the whole learner journey.
“I’m also responsible for our external team of independent end-point assessors ensuring that we’ve got the capacity to be able to deliver all assessments as required.”
How long have you been at SIAS and what was your own background before you joined the organisation?
“I joined SIAS in August of last year, so it’s coming up to a year very soon! I actually started off my own career as an apprentice, so I’m really passionate about this sector, and the value that apprenticeships can bring. I was an engineering apprentice at Shell UK, at the Stanlow oil refinery and I worked in the field of process operations for a number of years working on various production plants across the refinery.
“I qualified with my BEng degree in Plant Engineering and then further developed my career across the refinery, working in various roles until I moved into my final position there, which was as their Apprenticeship Training Manager, where I was responsible for managing the engineering and manufacturing programmes. I was lucky enough to see around 180 apprentices that had come through the programme and it was great to see them develop and be successful in their careers. And actually, at that time, I worked as a customer of SIAS, preparing my own apprentices for end-point assessment.
“Eventually, after 27 years, I decided it was time to move on and I moved into the world of training provision, as the Learning and Delivery Manager for a data academy, with the training provider Avado, and then I joined SIAS.”
It must have been an interesting transition from an engineering focused role into training and apprenticeships. Was that an opportunity that presented itself or did you make a decision that you were ready for a change in career direction?
“I’d always had my foot in the door with the apprenticeship programme, because, when I had finished as an apprentice and my role started to evolve on site at Stanlow, I naturally became a mentor to the new apprentices. When the opportunity came up as the Apprenticeship Training Manager, I was really keen to give a little bit back because I knew the benefit it had brought to my own career. It was really nice to be able to support that. And now I’m bringing that sector experience in manufacturing and engineering into SIAS which is proving really useful.”
I feel my experience working with apprenticeships as an employer and training provider, enables me to understand better the challenges that our customers face.
If you were to give people an insight into your world is there a way to describe a typical day or week for you?
“It’s really varied, which is great. A key part of what we’re doing at the moment is building engagement with our external customers, so a large proportion of my time is spent talking with training providers, talking with employers and ensuring that we are providing the right level of service that they would expect from us at SIAS; looking at what support we can give in support of preparing their apprentices for end-point assessment.
“Management of the team is also key: ensuring we’ve got the capacity of assessors available; working closely with quality from a compliance perspective point of view – we’ve recently been recognised under Ofqual, which is fantastic for SIAS– so a huge part of my role is also supporting that strategic piece around the things that we’re doing and the direction that we’re going, moving forward.”
There’s a lot happening at SIAS. What’s the thing that excites you the most?
“There are lots of growth opportunities at SIAS. Currently we do a great job but we’re looking to drive SIAS forward and we are always looking at areas where we can improve and where there are further opportunities to expand our portfolio. We’re investing in a new EPA system, which is going to revolutionise how we work. We’re bringing everything up to date, from a digital point of view and I just think it’s really exciting to see how we can continue to develop and grow SIAS over the coming months and years.”
What would you say are the key things you’re personally driving forward?
“The engagement piece is number one for me at the moment; it’s ensuring that we’ve got those touch points with our key customers; that we’re supporting them in the right way. Typically, in the world of EPAO, we talk about end-point assessment at the start and then we talk about it at the end; what we’re trying to do is really support right the way across the learner journey, so that’s really key at the moment.
“Bringing in things like the new EPA system will only further support in the fact that our customers will have access to data; they’ll be able to see that workflow; they’ll be able to see where their learners are in the EPA window.”
Moving on to Lisa outside work, tell us a little about you?
“I’m married and a mum of two. I’ve got a daughter who is 11 and my son’s 13, so teenage years are there and looming so they keep me very busy. I’m a bit of a taxi, I must admit… my children are quite sporty so a lot of time is spent running around with them.
I like to travel, although we haven’t done much in the last couple of years! I’m really looking forward to getting out and about, now that we can.”
And, any final thoughts to leave with our readers?
“Just as the final point, I think that, as a team, we’re really excited about where SIAS is now and our vision for the future. We’re here to help and listening to feedback as well is an important as part of our journey and will support our thinking for future opportunities, so my door is always open. “