Heidi Catlin Case Study

August 16, 2018

Name: Heidi Catlin

Programme: BA Level 4

Heidi has turned into a shining example of both a successful apprentice and a woman in a male​-dominated environment.

Heidi was a level 3 apprentice with TfL at the Transport for London Museum when she applied for a Level 4 role in the Department for Transport. 

Working within the department that manages DfT apprentices for all the organisation and external Arms Length Bodies, Heidi has been instrumental in assisting new apprentices at the start of their learning journey and has been raising her profile within several networks regarding apprenticeships and women in transport.

Heidi has excelled in her programme and been consistently ahead of progress,  remaining proactive and self-motivated through changes in talent coaches.  She has now been promoted to HEO and has moved to be assistant private secretary to Jo Johnson MP, and is determined to still achieve her programme whilst in a new challenging role.

What have you done previously?

I left sixth form at the age of 18 with no plan for the future, but I knew I wanted to work and do something proactive in life that would have a positive impact on the world. I’d been working on my local farm for over 2 years part time while studying my A Levels so when an apprenticeship came up at the Transport Museum I knew it was right for me.

I undertook a years apprenticeship at LTM, curating, developing learning programmes and delivering tours and education sessions while also completing a Level 3 in cultural and heritage venue operations, an IT functional skills L3 and a Gold Arts Award.

How long had you been looking for work? What challenges did you have in looking for work?

I have been very fortunate in always seeking out opportunities and have never been without work. However one of the main barriers in my early career was the lack of support from my sixth form career advisor. I was actually advised against taking up an apprenticeship as it was seen as a “job for the less intelligent”. This actually spurred me on to take up the apprenticeship in the Museum, where I ran educational sessions to inform 11-16 year-olds on careers in transport and engineering; and then to take up a further apprenticeship with DfT working on Apprenticeship policy within Transport and making apprenticeship careers available to all young people, especially young women. I’m so glad I got to prove my career advisor wrong.

How have you found your apprenticeship programme?

The course has not been without its challenges, I have had a variety of talent coaches and also changed manager half way through too. But this apprenticeship course has enabled me to gain new skills in the Civil Service and my talent coach Nikki has been fantastic at working flexibly with me, allowing me to learn in a style that suits me and supporting me when I was applying for my new job in Ministerial Private Office.

What have you learnt?

I have built on many skills through the programme, including how to build on stakeholder relationships, communicating difficult messages and managing conflict. These skills have really helped me to progress in my career and helped me to secure my new role in Private Office.

How have you applied what you have learned into the workplace?

In my previous role I provided secretariat for a senior taskforce as well as actively contributing to conversations round the table.  I set up and chaired my own working group meeting with DfT Policy officials who worked crossed over with mine, was co-chair of the DfT apprentice forum and acted as an ambassador for apprenticeships both internally and externally at Senior management events.  I also developed policy on behalf of Ministers, coordinating and delivering two successful Ministerial roundtables on further and high education. I provided briefing for Ministers, attended fortnightly catch ups with them, and accompanied them to events and meetings in official capacity.

I sought out some cover in Ministerial office as part of my development and after a successful week was asked to come back twice more. This led to me applying for my current role as Private Secretary to the Minister of State for Transport.  In this role I support the Minister by commissioning briefings for meetings, attending meetings and events with him and acting as an interface between the Minister and all other stakeholders. In my new role I am responsible and have oversight for Devolution, Engagement with Mayors, London (including London transport), Crossrail 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, East West Rail, Rail Innovation, Strategy and Security.

What’s the biggest change you have noticed in yourself since commencing the programme?

My confidence.  I’ve always struggled with social anxiety, especially in the workplace. A year and a half ago I found networking really difficult, hated meeting external visitors that I didn’t know or even picking up the phone at times! This programme and my job have enabled me to push myself out of my comfort zone, and now I happily attend events and meetings alone to represent my department or apprentices. I give talks and presentations, chaired meetings and built relationships with senior stakeholders.

My confidence has grown enormously, and I’ve also developed hugely as a professional career woman. Now, I accompany the Minister of State to events and meetings, giving him my advice and meeting and greeting with Parliamentarians and CEO’s alike.

The past me would never have thought I would be here, but I’ve grown professionally and personally and here I am!


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