School Teacher to PMO Analyst: Jen’s Story

jen PMO

The career path I’ve taken leading me to my current PMO (Portfolio Management Office) position at Nationwide hasn’t been the most traditional! Having previously worked as a science teacher for 9 years in state, international and private schools, and being head of department in my last school, I felt I’d accomplished all I’d wanted to in my teaching career, and wanted to experience something new.

My decision to apply to a PMO role at Nationwide was sparked by a conversation I had over dinner with a friend, who is a contract PMO Analyst and was working at Nationwide at the time. She recommended that I apply for a role in that department, so I followed her advice and sent in my application.

Nationwide sounded like a fantastic place to work, and I felt I had gained a number of transferable skills through teaching which I could apply to a PMO role.

Leaving my old job behind and starting a completely different career was a risk, but one that has definitely paid off.  

In my 16 months at Nationwide so far, I’ve been promoted from a Project Support Officer (PSO) to a PMO analyst role, and I’m now planning the path I’ll take within the PMO.

Throughout my time at Nationwide so far, I’ve been able to get involved in various interesting and challenging projects. In my previous role I worked closely with the inception manager to identify operational risks that were coming up through the business, and starting the process to incept new project to mitigate those risks. It was fascinating to see how projects come about and to help to shape the portfolio for the next financial year.

In my current role, I work for the PMO Practice team and am involved with the recruitment process. In addition to this, I get involved with various initiatives; my latest is planning the PMO Oscars, an event to recognise all of the fantastic work my PMO colleagues do.

Even though in many ways, my previous career was very different, I find that there are a lot of similarities between elements of current role and teaching.

Whereas I was responsible as a teacher for monitoring the progress of my students and ensuring that they pass their examinations, each project that I take on in my current role needs to be tracked and pass through certain gateways.

Stakeholder management is also important in teaching; communicating with parents and updating them about their child’s progress at parents’ evening, for example is an important part of the job.

Nationwide also encourage everyone to work flexibly, so I work from home one day a week which is great when you have a big commute like I do. I also work a compressed week; this means I can focus on my university work; I'm doing another degree in Psychology this time.

Although I don’t get 13 weeks a year holiday anymore, it’s great to be able to choose when to take my holiday leave!

I’m now able to enjoy a much better work-life balance than I had before. As a teacher, I’d be up late most nights marking and planning lessons.  

I’m confident that working at Nationwide will enable me to achieve my professional goals. Currently, I am aiming to improve some of the processes around what I do in my role, in order to make them more streamlined and efficient, such as speeding up the recruitment procedure. Looking forward, I’d like to progress to a Senior PMO analyst role, and then eventually continue on to a PMO manager position.

If you’re looking for a career change and have your sights set on Nationwide, don’t let the fact that you’re coming from a different professional background hold you back.

Nationwide recognised that although I didn’t have any related experience, I had other suitable skills that would allow me to succeed in a PMO role. Tailor your CV for the role you’re applying for- re-write it highlighting the transferrable skills and using the appropriate business language. For example, instead of writing that I taught different syllabi, I may write that I am used to working within different educational frameworks. You’ll be surprised at how much of a crossover there can be with other careers!

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  • Donna

    Excellent Jen you always had a cutting edge about you, continue to grow.

  • Grace

    Interested in such roles, well done jenny

  • Russell

    I have a very similar story: after an 11 year career in teaching, I felt ready to move on, but in middle-age, it was difficult to find something. I stumbled across an opportunity in Nationwide NOW, in Bournemouth and those transferable skills were recognised. I have thrived since and found the culture a perfect fit. One year on, I have achieved promotion and am now energised in a new career.

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