Caterpillar employees receive foundation degree from Acua

Future leaders from a world-leading engine manufacturer are among the first students to gain a work-based university degree with leading business development organisation Acua.

Nine rising stars from Caterpillar’s facilities at Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury have been recognised as inaugural graduates of the foundation degree in leadership capability, delivered by Acua and accredited by its partner Coventry University.

They were congratulated and presented with their degree certificates by Coventry University Vice-Chancellor Professor Madeleine Atkins and Neil Withey, operations director at Acua, at an awards ceremony.
Andy Plant, Kevin Reade, Graham Russell, John Russell, Nick Schubert, Mark Stanforth, Paul Witczak, Sara Ridley and John Wheatley spent more than three years working towards the foundation degree.

The graduates include brothers John and Graham Russell, and their brother-in-law Mark Stanforth, who have all gained promotions whilst studying towards their degrees.

John Russell, who is based at Caterpillar in Wolverhampton, said: “I was a section manager and I’m now a group manager and believe the degree has helped to get me where I am today.”

They will now have the opportunity to study towards a full degree or masters. Sara Ridley has gone on to study a post graduate degree and was unable to attend the awards ceremony as she was presenting her PhD paper. She believes she is a better manager and a better person for having completed the foundation degree.

She said: “We understand far more about leadership, team dynamics, problem solving and communication than before and, because all the group work, the individual assignments and case studies were concerned with actual issues that arose as part of our day-to-day work, the company has benefited from some outstanding problem solving.”

Caterpillar was one of the first companies to work with Acua after the organisation was established by Coventry University in 2008 to help bridge the skills gap in the UK.

The nine graduates from Caterpillar were among a group to be presented with their degree certificates at the awards ceremony, which included six employees from the AA, the UK’s largest motoring organisation.

Acua business coach Ian Scholes, who delivered the foundation degree, said the learning had helped the graduates in their professional and personal development, with many securing promotions.

He said: “Each student’s learning objectives have been met and in some cases exceeded and they all deserve the recognition that has culminated with them being awarded their degrees.”