Spotlight On… Enterprising Learner, Lauren Proctor

Lauren Proctor, 20, is in the second year of her Foundation Degree in Business and Management at New College Durham, an IOEE Enterprise Academy, where she is also working full-time in the Apprenticeship department. With the Foundation Degree’s Innovation, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship modules being accredited by the IOEE, this month we chatted to Lauren to talk about the challenges of balancing studying with working, and why she believes that combining the two gives her the best learning experience.

Lauren is incredibly ambitious, hard-working and motivated. She is already working a 37-hour week, she attends her Business and Management classes on Monday and Wednesday nights after work, and she has also taken on an additional Advice and Guidance course to develop her skills even further. However, Lauren doesn’t seem to be deterred by her heavy workload, and explains how she sees it as a real positive:

“I just want to build up as many skills as possible – as quickly as possible. Fortunately, I like being busy, so I take it all in my stride, but it can be challenging doing all of this and then the assignments on top of it too! But I actually think that doing all these things at the same time works to my advantage. It’s interesting to think about that – I don’t know if I was doing it full-time whether I’d get all of the same skills – or at least not as quickly. Because I’m studying part-time, I’m getting to use what I’ve learnt and apply it in the workplace straight away. It makes it easier to better, develop and apply what I’ve learnt to whatever I’m doing. There’s nothing wrong with studying full-time, but for me part-time is a really good option. It shows strong time management skills too.”

Part of Lauren’s motivation comes from the desire to one day be a ‘good manager’ and create a work environment that inspires people, though she is also considering going into teaching further down the line:

“So many people have bad experiences with their managers; managers who have gotten power hungry. You hear about and know people who just don’t want to go to work because of this reason, and that in itself makes me want to be a really good manager, so people can have a positive experience in the workplace. After the Foundation Degree I’ll do a top-up third year, and after that perhaps a PGCE. It’s still early days, so I have time to figure out where I want my career to take me.”

Lauren’s classes cover a broad range of enterprise-related subjects, including Business Finance, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship – where students learn how to put together detailed and structured business plans and proposals. One of the aspects of the course that Lauren enjoys the most is its practical and hands-on approach to teaching and learning. One example of this would be the Debate classes, where all manner of subjects, both directly business-related or otherwise, are critically discussed, such as the cost and impact of technology on the mental health of young people. Students also participate in a Dragon’s Den-style exercise, where they have to pitch their business ideas to a panel of employers and teachers. Lauren says:

“You have 15 minutes up there in front of the judges and they’ll ask you lots of questions to make you critically analyse your business idea and think about what you could tweak and change to improve it. It’s daunting, you have to double-think everything you say and the pressure’s on, but the exercise, along with all the presentations you have to do, ultimately gets your confidence up.”

By coincidence, Lauren’s mother has also completed a Foundation Degree in Business Management herself, and this helped to give Lauren a boost when she was going into unfamiliar territory with learning new subjects, or preparing for a new style of assessment. Lauren says:

“My Mam did this course at another college and she was doing her final year whilst I was doing my first year, and this really encouraged me and inspired me. Obviously, she didn’t do the work for me, but she was able to give me advice on things like which theorists would be useful to look up, or reassure me when the idea of the Dragon’s Den presentation seemed terrifying! It gave me a bit of a ‘teacher at home’, which was really helpful. And, you know, your Mam doing the course first so that she can help you is really good parenting!”

Lauren may have that support system at home, but she says that she is also really impressed with the support system in place at the college too:

“The teachers here are just amazing. There is always someone to go to if you have questions, whatever they are. If you need advice on writing a report, say, because you’ve never done one before, or you want a list of useful websites for research – whatever it might be, there are academic tutors and support advisors available to all students for every area of Higher Education. It’s fantastic, you couldn’t have a better support system in place.”

For more information on IOEE Enterprise Academy, New College Durham, please visit