Inspiring Women in Project Management: Rachel Gertz

Are you interested in project management? Are you looking to build your team? An apprenticeship in project management could be the answer.
The UK is big on apprenticeships, especially with the Apprenticeship Levy in place. This effectively means that companies pay for apprenticeship training regardless of whether they use it.
What if you don’t qualify or aren’t based in this area? Today’s interviewee is familiar with the details of other apprenticeship programs that target project managers.
Rachel Gertz is a digital PM training instructor who teaches apprentices. She’s passionate about supporting project managers, and their creative teams. Rachel and I met up to discuss more.
Hello, Rachel. Let’s begin at the beginning. I understand that apprentices learn and grow, but tell me about the benefits for companies from project management apprenticeships.
Companies that embrace apprenticeship are the ones that will elevate our digital industry.
First companies will want to learn about the cost savings. Apprentices in project management can save companies money as they act as the core of the team and its stakeholders. They also improve relationships and reduce overages on projects by catching and mitigating red alerts.
They build relationships with clients and establish clear boundaries around client communication. This allows them to immediately earn full salaries, add value to their organizations, and recover their training costs.
We are essentially referring to a cost-neutral program.
Cost-neutral? Really?
Our PM apprentices are trained in tracking the value of their contributions. We’re happy to report that past students have reported increased company revenue and decreased project drag. They also negotiated additional phases on large-scale projects and pushed back against scope creep, saving the cost of their tuition.
They also reported that their team’s approach towards scoping, scheduling and client management has been improved, which has saved their companies thousands of bucks.
A study in Canada found that apprenticeships can return almost $1.50 per dollar spent on an apprentice. It’s not bad at all!
Well, that’s appealing. It’s not just about getting staff trained in a cost-effective manner.
Apprenticeships foster a culture of learning, professional development, and this has ripple effects on productivity and process within the companies that host them. They also make employees happier: they encourage staff to spend more time on improving processes and projects, while lowering onboarding costs and improving retention. (More on this in the article on the cost and benefits of team debt).
Apprentices are the unsung heroes that keep their organizations open to learning and focused towards continuous improvement. This practice elevates all of us.
Apprentices come from many backgrounds, aren’t they?
Apprenticeships promote inclusion by broadening the talent pool to include those who might not otherwise have access to specialized employment opportunities. Although apprentices may have a variety of skills and employment backgrounds that allow them to be effective project managers. However, most PM positions require at least three years experience. This makes it difficult for many applicants to get in the door.
McKinsey says that diverse teams are more productive and should be the default choice when hiring managers make decisions.
What is it like to work in creative agencies?
Many PMs in creative agencies work in silos, without a community to support real-time learning or provide emotional support.
We are seeing more communities emerge to support and connect project managers all over the globe. This program is an extension to that.