Janice Morgan - Centre for Business and Social Action

Janice Morgan - Centre for Business and Social Action (CBSA)

My name is Janice Morgan and I work for Centre for Business and Social Action (CBSA), we’re based in Llanelli but we operate across Wales, and we also have projects running in England at the moment. The main aim of company is to make the community stronger. We do this through a number of different projects and activities. We start up new businesses and help them grow. We help individuals get back into work and help them address the barriers into employment. We work with disadvantaged families helping them cope with poverty, whether its through debt or food poverty or fuel poverty. We also work with responsible businesses to help them put something back into the community to make it stronger. 

What is your role at the company?

I’m the managing Director within CBSA, I’ve had that role for about 18months. Before that I was the Operations Director here. Basically I am responsible for anything and everything that happens on a day-to-day basis. Anything from marketing, I take responsibility for finance, HR… I’ve got lots of great people doing things for me but essentially the buck stops with me in terms of day-to-day management of the place.

Why did you decide this was the right course for you?

That’s a really interesting question because I’ve started so many University courses in the past, I’ve started a Masters and I’ve even started a Doctorate, and everything has come to an end because something has happened in work and I’ve had to sort of concentrate on that and it’s taken my eye off the ball really. When I sat with the team at Trinity and we discussed this, it just seemed to make so much more sense because it’s work-based and  everything you do is directly related to what you’re doing in the workplace and because of that it just made perfect sense to me. Everything I was going to be doing for the course I was actually doing in work. So there wouldn’t be any diversions and I could concentrate on both without any of them suffering. So I suppose that was the reason that I did it and it appealed to me.

What new skills were you hoping to develop at the start of the course?

What new skills I was hoping to develop at the start of the course, that’s an interesting question. I have to be honest, I didn’t have a menu of skills I wanted to develop, I didn’t have any sort of clearcut thing I wanted to get better at communication or I want to get better at marketing. It was very much about I was told that I could do a project that was directly related to something that my employer needed. And I think that was the main attraction that I was able to get a qualification that also addressed a need within my own organisation. So it wasn’t a set skills or anything it was the end product really for me.

What new skills have you learnt?

What new skills have I learned, that’s quite interesting really. Given the fact that I went into it and didn’t have any clearcut idea of what I was going to get out of it in terms of personal skills. I think I got quite a few skills to be quite honest. The most important one I think was, I improved my ability to listen. My line manager would tell me that I am absolutely really really bad at listening. I ask a lot of questions and then I go off on a tangent and I don’t sort of listen to the answers always. Because I was doing a work-based project, I was doing a lot of research and I was doing a lot of questions which meant I had to speak to a lot of members of staff and I had to actually listen to the responses because I had to take them down, and write them all up. I had to analyse the responses. Because of that I think my listening skills have really really improved. So, Mike has seen the change, so I’ll leave him talk to you about that.

What has it been like studying at university and still working a full time job?

What has it been like working and studying at the same time… not that difficult. I thought it would a lot of work, but because it’s work-based learning, again everything you’re doing is directly relatable and takes place in the workplace and because of that, it was a lot less work than what I thought it was going to be. You have to be organised, you really have to sort of plan your time well, but at the end of the day, if you do it in small stages it doesn’t really have that much of an impact at all because it’s integrated into what you do on day to day basis so I would say anybody who is worried about the impact on their work, don’t just go for it. 

Have you noticed any changes related to your work since starting the course? Has the course had an impact on you professionally? 

Has the course had an impact on me professionally, I think it’s had an impact on me both professionally and personally because at the end of the day, you’re accruing a huge amount of knowledge, you’re doing things you don’t normally do or don’t get a chance on a day-to-day basis to go into a subject in the depth I was able to go into. So what that does, is it gives you the opportunity to gather a lot of knowledge, and that knowledge then makes you feel very confident because you’re an expert in the subject and the confidence it gives you from doing the work is immense. You take that forward in everything you do then, it’s a sense of accomplishment and the fact that you’ve been able to become knowledgeable in the subject, so I am now an expert in Environmental Employee Engagement, I know everything about the subject there is to know about it. 

Has the course had an impact on you personally? 

Has the course had an impact on me personally. I think going back to when I was talking about the impact it has had on me professionally, again I think it’s very much to do with the sense of achievement, giving you a lot of confidence, and it makes you want to do others things as well. I talked to you earlier about wanting to do a Doctorate, and I think that is directly from successfully completing the Masters and knowing that it wasn’t that difficult or that onerous.

What are your aspirations once you have completed the course?

What are my aspirations now that I have finished the course. I have found that I was doing a lot of research and I had forgotten how much I love doing research so I would love to take that forward and go back to do a Doctorate I really really would, it would be a dream come true if I could actually get my act together enough to do that. 

How useful was the funding available to come on the course and why?

I think without the funding, I don’t think anyone in the organisation would have been able to undertake the course. Looking at it from an organisation perspective and a third sector organisation, we don’t have money floating around for training. We tend to employ people who have the right skills as we have ring fenced funding and we have to be very very careful with what we do with public money. At the end of the day, without the funding we would not have been able to undertake the training because it is peripheral to people’s day-to-day job. But what the actual training does it gives them the confidence and the skills to actually be able to do more, so it’s worth making the investment but having the money to make that initial investment is quite difficult to come about. 

If could summarise your experience….?

I would tell anyone who is hesitating, don’t hesitate, go for it, they will not regret it… it’s a chance to get a qualification and still contribute something to your own organisation so it’s definitely worth the investment and if they’re organised and don’t leave it to the last minute they will get through it. The staff are brilliant, they are really supportive so you get as much support as you want, or as little as you want and nothing is too much trouble.