Juan Kotze is an expert in corporate security operations and management, and oversees a multi million pound contract on the Ministry of Justice’s HQ estate in London for leading facilities management services provider, OCS Group. Trained to detect hostile reconnaissance, and fully up to date on the latest counter terrorism strategies, he also oversees technical security arrangements for diplomatic and VIP state visits. Married with two children, it’s fair to say that Juan leads a very busy life, however, as if all of that wasn’t enough to keep him occupied, Juan is also a management degree apprentice with UCQ. In this interview Juan speaks about why he chose to study the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA), and what advice he would give to anyone considering doing it.

Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself Juan

 A: I am a qualified Government Security professional working for a great company called OCS Group UK, as the Account Manager and Head of VIP Relations on a multi-million-pound contract in London. In simple terms, I am in charge of the security services contract across the Ministry of Justice HQ Estate in London.

Q: Why did you choose to undertake the UCQ CMDA programme?

A: I am always hungry for success and firmly believe you must continually develop and push yourself in order to move onwards and upwards. For some time I have felt that the main thing holding me back from advancing my career was not having a degree, so I grabbed the opportunity to undertake the CMDA programme with UCQ when it arose.

Q: What concerns did you have prior to starting the programme?

A: To be honest, I would be the first to admit that I’m not very academic and do find studying quite hard. Initially I found committing to the programme quite daunting, as I am married with two beautiful children and have a very challenging job; the thought of adding another big commitment to my life was certainly a concern to say the least.

Q: Can you describe the support you receive from UCQ?

A: The learning environment at UCQ is incredibly supportive, including both one to one and group sessions focused on the assignment for the particular module being studied. I particularly find the one to one online sessions rewarding as I have the lecturer to myself, and always have lots of questions for them, which they are more than happy to answer.

Q: How do you balance your studies with work and other commitments?

A: At the enrolment session, UCQ provided a full time table for the entire 3 year programme, which enables me to plan ahead. My employer, OCS, understand that they are also benefitting from  the knowledge and skills I am developing, and are very supportive in helping me balance my commitments with time for learning.

Q: What are the benefits to OCS Group from you undertaking the CMDA?

A: I am applying the academic theories and concepts which I am learning, especially those relating to management and leadership, in my day to day work. This is helping to create a better service delivery and working environment for staff, which in turn is improving services to our customers.

Q: Do you feel that the UCQ CMDA is helping you to become a better manager?

A:  I have personally had staff at work thank me since I started the CMDA for introducing new ideas that I learnt from my UCQ assignments and lectures. The team at UCQ have been amazing and have a unique way of bringing out the best in students.

Q: How would you say studying with UCQ differs to a conventional university?

A: Studying with UCQ allows students to integrate their studies and work, creating a good work life balance. The CMDA is great for busy professionals like me, being work based and integrated with the job I do every day. Continual assessment, rather than exams, also works better for me, and there is no way that I would be able to go to university every week, so monthly attendance at lectures is also good. The UCQ lecturers and assessors build a one on one relationship with each student and are very flexible in creating individualised sessions.

Q: How will the UCQ CMDA support you in achieving your career aspirations?

A: The support I receive from UCQ tutors and assessors in building my knowledge and skills has not only increased my academic capabilities but also my overall confidence, which alone will enable me to progress in my career.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone considering doing the UCQ CMDA?

A: Studying through UCQ is an absolute yes. I would advise anyone given the chance or opportunity to grab it. Well worth it and very rewarding.

Q: Please feel free to add anything else which you would like to

A: I would like to say a BIG thank you to the whole UCQ team, especially my Professional Development Assessor Shirley and all my lecturers. Also, I could not have done this without the support and opportunity given to me by OCS Group, so thank you to them too.

If Juan’s interview has inspired you to apply to join the UCQ CMDA, click here to download an application form, complete and return it to hello@ucq.ac.uk and one of the friendly people from our student services team will be touch!

Click here for information about the September intake for our CMDA programme