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IDEA Services is enhancing the leadership and management skills of its team with support from Careerforce. As New Zealand’s largest provider of services to people with intellectual disabilities, development of its managers is a key goal.

More than 200 IDEA Services managers are being enrolled in the New Zealand Diploma in Leadership and Management (Level 5) qualification as part of a phased roll out, that is already seeing positive and impressive outcomes.

Karen Macilquham overcomes self-doubt to complete diploma

Woman sitting at her desk

Karen Macilquham has completed her Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management

Paraparaumu service manager, Karen Macilquham started as a support worker with IDEA Services more than 25 years ago. She has been a service manager for the past nine years and is one of the latest managers to successfully complete the diploma programme.

“Karen had no real experience of tertiary study, yet was able to complete this qualification through hard work and determination,” says Careerforce assessor, Regan Cotter.

“She pushed on through the self-doubt she had about her own capabilities, and uses the confidence she gained to keep her own staff motivated through their training.”

Karen and her team support adults of all ages with intellectual disabilities to live in their own homes and enjoy life as part of their communities.

“As a manager I make sure that we provide a range of quality services for the people we support, and ensure there’s enough staff onboard to carry them out. This includes training and coaching, orientating new staff, having regular meetings with facilities, and developing programmes for the people we support,” says Karen.

IDEA Services provides career pathways for staff through workplace training

“The organisation puts all staff through the Level 2 Health and Wellbeing programme when they start and then the Level 3 and 4 programmes are optional, giving staff the opportunity to learn and follow a career pathway within the organisation” says Karen.

Karen had already completed the Level 4 programme when first starting with the organisation as a support worker.  When the organisation introduced the Level 3 programme, now as a manager, she decided to do that as well. She wanted to experience what her staff were doing.

“I can’t expect my staff to do something if I can’t do it, or know it, myself. How can I help assist staff if I don’t know what they are learning?” says Karen.

“When I heard that all service managers were required to complete the Level 5 Leadership and Management programme, I did think, do I really want to do this? What benefit is this? I am near retirement.”

Support from her colleagues made Karen’s study easier

“At first, I struggled for a while. Sometimes I would look at the papers and wondered what language they were speaking.

“As I progressed, I realised I already knew a lot of this stuff. It also made me really think and it made me more aware of things that perhaps I could be doing better.

“I was fortunate that some other colleagues were doing the Level 5 Diploma at the same time. We would have catchups and encourage each other. It really helped talking to colleagues. People read and interpret things very differently and having input from others was helpful.

“My area manager was also really helpful. We have regular fortnightly meetings, and she would ask if we were struggling with anything. We could also contact our Careerforce assessor if we were stuck. Regan was really good. He explained things in simple terms, and talked through my papers.

“Now having completed it, I can proudly say I’ve done it. I’ve managed to achieve something that I was unsure I could.  It’s great for my morale and my confidence.

“The programme reinforced what I knew. But it also made me think of things differently. It made me much more aware of others and our different learning styles. There is also a lot of self-reflection throughout the programme. Now I can reflect upon it, I can use it as a tool, and I can share with my staff.”

Karen is keen to encourage others to complete the diploma. “To anyone thinking about it, go for it, don’t put barriers up. Try not to ‘over think’ things, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Sometimes asking for help, just reinforces that you do know what you’re doing.”

More information

Find out more information about the New Zealand Diploma in Leadership and Management (Level 5) programme.

*IDEA Services is a disability service provider of the IHC Group.