Manav Mahendru – (Trainee Business Administrator)


Heathrow Shared Apprenticeship Scheme: Wilson James

It would be fair to say, that 2020 was a year of acute change, challenge and ups and downs for all of us. We have had to adapt
to new ways of working and indeed, new ways of living. But, how does this play out, in real life, for those that are at the start
of a new career?

Our case study series will shine a spotlight on some of the Apprentices currently working through their placements on the Heathrow Shared Apprenticeship Scheme. The Scheme brings together Heathrow’s major construction companies, and offers Apprentices the opportunity to work across several disciplines on a range of exciting Heathrow projects and gain nationally recognised qualifications at the same time.

Manav Mahendru, Business Administration Apprentice, Hosted by Wilson James.

Meet Manav

Before joining the scheme, Manav had finished his accounting qualification at college and just returned from travelling to India, using this time away to decide what his next step would be. He was working for the National Citizen Service at the time as well as occasionally DJ’ing. Manav enjoyed this but knew he wanted to work, learn and earn at the same time. Since secondary school, he had always been keen on an apprenticeship over university as he was concerned about the large debt and lack of tangible
work experience most graduates are lumbered with. “An apprenticeship is the best approach for someone who is hesitant about going to university and ending up with debt. Instead, it gives you a whole new approach to the working world and teaches you the value of working hard, while being committed to your education.

Manav’s Apprenticeship

The start of Manav’s apprenticeship was varied. He worked on projects across three out of five terminals, as well as the compass centre, the main business hub of Heathrow Airport. This has allowed Manav to keep his finger on the pulse of Wilson James’s day-to-day activity. He has enjoyed the projects and work at Wilson James as it continually keeps him on his toes and forces him to think outside the box. Most recently, Manav was responsible for the TUPE of over 600 employees and the co-ordination of ten COVID-19 testing sites across Heathrow limits, providing a vital function to a high standard at a crucial time. “Working at Wilson James is fantastic; I have been here for around 18 months and can honestly say that no one day has been the same. Wilson James has contracts in all the terminals as well as other AD-Hoc sites, so something new is there to be experienced every single day. The staff and my managers are helpful and stick together like family. The company’s values align with mine and allow me to confidently work to the best of my abilities on a day-to-day basis.

It hasn’t always been plain sailing for Manav, however. During the initial six months of his apprenticeship, he struggled to find and maintain a healthy work/life balance. Wilson James and The Shared Apprenticeship Scheme identified this and interjected, setting out a plan of action with Manav. Manav has since shown great improvement and this has been echoed by his line manager:

In the early stages we had some challenges, so Heather and I sat down with Manav and had a really good chat with him. He took every bit of feedback and advice on board and is a credit to himself. It warms my heart to see the fruits of Heather’s mentorship, her support, guidance and belief in Manav and the huge impact it has made. One day Manav will do the same for someone else, the value of apprenticeships go way beyond the now. It is great to be part of this” – Karen Blackham, Lead HR Business Partner.

Manav’s vocational qualifications are being delivered by Westminster Kingsway College where Manav is enrolled on the Level 4
Business Administration Apprenticeship and is learning all aspects of how a business operates, some of which he is able to apply
in his current role and some of which will help him with his future development in the industry. He enjoys meeting with his
assessor regularly, and suggests to future Apprentices to “Stay consistent and enjoy every moment”.

Manav’s host employer: Wilson James

Wilson James have continued to work throughout the pandemic and lockdown, despite a reduced scale at Heathrow Airport. They have continued their projects across multiple terminals and even been awarded new project contracts. Manav’s line manager had the below to say about his progress and how he has handled the lockdown:

Lockdown has been tough for those of the team who have been on Furlough as well as a challenge for those in the operation working in a very strange environment. Wilson James has been very fortunate to win a new contract during lockdown and Manav has been an intrinsic part of the mobilisation and transition team. Manav has been a team player as well as work and lead parts of the project delivery on his own. He has ensured that the TUPE of over 600 people has been a success. He supported the inductions, on-boarding into the business, and created training videos from his own initiative to support our transferring employees. Manav has also be supporting the Management Team in learning the Wilson James way of working. He is calm, supportive, passionate and an asset to our Heathrow Team.” – Heather Mandizvidza, Heathrow Strategic Account Director.

What’s next for Manav?

I think firstly I would like to see some normality in the future, just the airport returning back to normal because I feel like that has been missed greatly since coming back from furlough

Manav is contemplating studying for a degree whilst remaining at Wilson James. He thoroughly enjoys working for the company and takes inspiration from colleagues who have also taken this route.

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