Case Nine: Tracey Minogue

A study programme at the University of Chester has inspired a soon-to-be graduate to start her own business.

Tracey Minogue, aged 43, from Runcorn, will graduate with a Master’s degree in Enterprise through the University’s Work Based and Integrative Studies (WBIS) framework, which enabled her to study whilst staying in employment.

She first became aware of the WBIS programme, whilst working as a manager at a college in Manchester. Tracey said: “I was totally inspired by the approach and the possibilities it offered for me to shape and direct my own learning, making it relevant to my own unique career development. The Chester approach had the right level of flexibility and support for me.”

Tracey studied part-time for four years and continued working, eventually leaving her job to start her own business. The flexibility of the WBIS programme allowed her to adapt her learning pathway to one that responded to her new venture and generated knowledge that enabled her to add value to her business.

She saw there was a gap in the market for the higher level training of teachers in enterprise and thought that a work-based approach would be an ideal method to use. In her role as a Director of Innovation Lab, a company which specialises in innovation and business start-up, she developed an award route through WBIS called the Post Graduate Certificate in Enterprise Facilitation (WBIS) to meet this need.

She said: “In business, I was getting a lot of experience working with small companies but felt that I really needed to further my knowledge and understanding. I was also working in colleges with teachers and developing a curriculum that would bring the world of self-employment and business start-up into the classroom. The challenges for me were how to really connect with what was needed by our clients and to make sometimes complex and high level knowledge more easily accessible by those in or starting businesses.

“My main aim was to develop an enterprise education award so that people could learn to start a business by ‘doing’. We partnered with Chester to develop the Post Graduate Certificate in Enterprise Facilitation (WBIS) which has been very successful, and our first cohort of 15 students are just about to complete this course. We have had a lot of interest from learners, colleges and other training companies who are enthused by the work based approach to enterprise and innovation that we offer.”

Tracey said she takes away a very positive experience from studying at Chester. She said: “The staff were fantastic. Nothing was ever too much trouble and they were always available to help and gave great feedback, which enabled me to rapidly develop specifically in relation to my business needs. The course itself allowed me to determine my own learning pathway and to focus on those things of interest and relevance to me.”