A story of how APMG International helps provide a range of professional management courses aimed at both individuals and commercial organisations.
Darren and I both served in the UK Armed Forces (Army and Royal Marines respectively), and both had distinguished careers as Officers serving across the globe on operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland and on training exercises in Germany, Caribbean, USA, Canada and Brunei to name but a few.
We left the military and went through our ‘resettlement’ process which is aimed at giving service personnel leaving the Armed Forces the necessary skills, training and confidence to embark on a second career outside of the military.
We both attended several professional management courses in order to pursue separate careers, Darren in Mining and me in Risk Management. We found the courses being sold and delivered to us of varying standards and use. At the time, we didn’t think much of this as we were focused on getting our courses completed and finding our next job.
Several years later, and after having established ourselves in our chosen careers, we discussed our experiences with our respective training providers and questioned whether we could offer a better quality of training for individuals or organisations, regardless of their background.
We had both been through our own training centres of excellence and had been drilled in the art of delivering high quality no matter how adverse the conditions or situation. We therefore settled quickly upon the answer that – yes, we think we could do better!
The journey to becoming an accredited ATO
With Darren and I both working overseas (in separate countries nonetheless) and balancing family life and other work commitments we relied upon Facetime to discuss how we would form the framework for our new venture. The one thing we knew straight from the start was that we had to focus on the quality of our product and services in order to ensure we could compete alongside other ATOs (Accredited Training Organisations).
We started, as all companies nowadays have to, with our website. This is the shop window of a company and we quickly realised that a poor website can have serious consequences if it is difficult to use, cluttered or doesn’t allow for a good user experience.
We wanted our website to not only reflect our company but also allow our users to research and book their course online using any device. We hired a friend of the family to help build our site and on several blank bits of paper and over multiple cups of coffee we set out to him how we envisaged it looking and what our ‘mission verbs’ were, i.e. a set of individual words used to describe what we are trying to achieve. In this case our mission verbs were: Personal, Professional and Bespoke.
With our IT guru hard at work developing our vision for a website, our attention flicked across to the issue of finding an accrediting organisation and deciding on what courses we were going to initially deliver, as well as all the other administratively heavy duties such as finding an accountant, registering with Companies House, getting a bank account, registering for VAT and getting our branding sorted!
We had both done several short courses when we left the military and knew that PRINCE2®was a popular course and one that was well respected by employers within the marketplace. We added ITIL®, and AgilePM® to our list of course deliverables as we saw these as both well-established subjects and also areas where there was still significant growth available.
We also researched some of the Accrediting Bodies that we could go with but eventually chose APMG-International as they had not only a long and established history but also a robust policy for approval of new ATO’s and instructors. This we felt would benefit us, as it would ensure we maintained high standards throughout the accreditation process and would deliver us a better product in the end.
The hunt for instructors was our next task. We knew we wanted to recruit a high calibre of individual and one that had both training experience but also, and most importantly, industry experience.
We felt that an instructor who was not able to provide up-to-date and relevant examples of how to apply the knowledge they are teaching would not provide our delegates with the high-quality service that we required.
We therefore searched high and low for individuals that not only met this standard but also were aligned with our own ethos and values. We are happy to announce that we did indeed find several instructors who met all of our criteria and with that we were ready to go.
With our paperwork submitted to APMG, website produced, operations plan written and tested and all of courses and instructors in place we were now ready to get fully accredited and ‘go live’. Fortunately, APMG turned around our application for accreditations in short order and with the website flicked to live, we were operational…..and now our story starts!
What sets us apart
We both understood from the early stage of the company’s development that we had to set ourselves apart from our competition. Whilst we felt our ex-military way of doing business would certainly stand us in good stead, we knew we needed to add more value to the services we were offering. We realised that we could do this in a few ways.
Firstly, we recruited the best instructors we could find that fit with our company ethos and values. Next, we looked for locations to hold our public courses from and found stunning locations right in the heart of Liverpool and Manchester that would serve the purpose of providing a high-quality learning environment.
Lastly, we wanted to go beyond the ‘fire and forget’ methodology for delivering courses and ensure that our delegates got the best learning outcomes we could deliver. To achieve this, we include a post-course mentor programme into all our public and private courses that allows the delegate to reach back to us or the instructors to clarify, re-learn or confirm the learning points from their course. By doing this, we hope that our delegates will be better able to apply the methodologies learned during the course into their everyday work or project.
Darren and I have some pretty ambitious plans for the future. We are driven, dedicated and have sufficient capacity to ensure we are successful. We intend to work with a variety of partners from commercial organisations to individuals. We are also committed to working with military charitable organisations. We feel that the military made us the person we are today and as such we want to ensure that we continue to support our fellow servicemen and women, especially those that have been injured, either mentally or physically.
Over the coming months more courses will be added to our list of deliverables and we hope to be driving the company forward to ensure that we start 2017 in a very strong position.
Rob is a former Royal Marine Captain who served for 9 years and deployed across the globe, including to Iraq and Northern Ireland. Since leaving the Armed Forces, he has worked as a risk management consultant and trainer for leading organisations across Africa, the Middle East, America and Europe.
He is passionate about delivering high standards and a quality product to Perpetuum clients and will always go that extra mile to ensure this is achieved.
Darren is a former British Army Major who served for 11 years across a range of international high profile operational deployments. In addition, he has worked as a member of the British Army Officer Selection Board and commanded an infantry training company.
Since leaving the Armed Forces, he has worked in a senior management role for a mineral exploration company developing the construction of a gold mine in West Africa. He is qualified to Practitioner level in both APMP and M_o_R. He remains committed to the delivery of first class training and the need for continuous improvement.
About Perpetuum Training
Perpetuum Training provides a range of professional management courses aimed at both individuals and commercial organisations. We offer a personal, bespoke and professional service to all of our clients. You can see more about us, our ethos and the courses we offer on our website: www.perpetuumtraining.com or call 0151 208 0247 to chat to us about your training needs.