Higher Apprentice of the Year 2023 : Celia McNally

Intec’s Higher Apprentice of the Year is awarded to a candidate studying a Level 4 programme or above. We are delighted to announce that our Higher Apprentice of the Year for 2023 is Celia McNally of the Environment Agency.  

We are delighted to announce that our Higher Apprentice of the Year for 2023 is Celia McNally of the Environment Agency.  

Described by her Tutor, John Felton, as a ‘force of nature’, Celia was part of our first cohort to complete the Improvement Practitioner Level 4 programme. Her hard work, determination and ongoing support of others really stood out and she is a deserving winner of this year’s award.

Apprenticeships are all about building the confidence and skills of an individual to deliver real business benefit. The improvement programme develops the learner’s knowledge around Lean, Kaizen and Six Sigma principles to provide practitioners with frameworks to deliver efficiencies for their organisation. Celia is a fantastic example of someone who has done this; taking what she has learnt on programme and presenting a business case for an improvement plan to her superiors. As a result, she has successfully secured the support for these improvements to be put into action.  

‘Before starting the apprenticeship, I had always been interested in trying to improve the way that we worked so that we were more effective, wasted less time and effort and reduced the impact of change on our staff.  I could see what needed to be improved but struggled to develop a case to take forward. Applying the learning I gained on programme to this project enabled me to approach it in a structured, evidence-based way and the project will deliver cost, time, and wellbeing improvements.’  - Celia McNally.  

Celia’s commitment to her own professional development is clear. She works not only to better herself but also to create a positive environment for her colleagues. Her manager, Chris Wilson, has witnessed this first hand: ‘Celia sought out and applied for this apprenticeship herself as part of her dedication to continuous improvement. Her systematic approach to untangling complex interdependent processes across a major investment programme is refreshing. She integrated her studies alongside the ongoing workload which ensured minimum disruption to capacity, and it has had immediate and progressive benefit. Others in our organisation have shown an interest in taking up learning via an apprenticeship because of Celia’s experience.’

 Celia’s achievements have not been without challenges. The prospect of getting back into education can be intimidating: ‘I wouldn’t normally reference this, but I am dyslexic. This is something I have acknowledged and embraced in the past few years, but it did make me anxious about embarking on the apprenticeship, but I hadn’t really realised how different an apprenticeship approach would be. The staged approach to the theory, then the practical, real-life application in the work environment just helped embed the understanding so much more naturally.’  

Intec’s John Felton nominated Celia for this award and in his words: ‘She goes well above and beyond expectation in her own desire to learn and help others, she is a credit to her organisation. Her experience of dyslexia led her to develop a glossary and aide memoir to support her as she completed her End Point Assessment (EPA) and they have since been integrated into Intec’s syllabus to support others going forward.  She has managed to juggle a full-time job; achieve a well-deserved Distinction at EPA and she has been a mentor figure to others. Celia is a co-lead of her Staff Dyslexia Plus Network and whilst on programmes she’s used improvement techniques to help grow this network from 200 to over 750 members.’    

Congratulation Celia, we couldn’t have found a more worthy winner!