FROM HR TO GARDEN DESIGN: NICKI IS TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF

With more than 15 years’ experience in HR Nicki Jackson decided to take a new path in life and retrain as a garden designer with help from Lantra’s Women and Work programme and because of her dedication, she has been named the Women and Work Horticulture, Landscaping and Sports Turf Joint Winner of the Year. Since 2006, the Women and Work programme has worked with over 1212 companies in England to support 3,250 women develop their skills and progress their careers in industries where women are under-represented. To celebrate the end of the 2010/2011 training programme, the nine top learners were recognised at the second annual Lantra Women and Work Awards, sponsored by VectorWorks Training, at Nailcote Hall, Warwickshire, on 30 March 2011. Nicki Jackson is not one to let the grass grow under her feet. Having decided to retrain as a garden designer just over three years ago, she has already established her own business with a team of three helping to run it. “I didn’t have a light bulb moment and thought I don’t want to do HR consultancy anymore instead I’m going to be a garden designer,” says Nicki. “It was a much more gradual thing, besides I still like HR and I still do some work for a few clients.” But it’s horticulture where Nicki’s heart is and where the 39-year-old Coventry-based garden designer sees her future. “What really did it for me was a short ‘design-your-own garden’ course I went on every Saturday morning at a place in Kings Heath, Birmingham. As soon as I started it I really got into the whole project and I started to think this could be for me.” Once the course was over and Nicki had seen the effect on her own garden she looked into more training and two years ago enrolled at Warwickshire College’s Pershore campus. “I applied to do a two-year HNC in Garden Design and I was so pleased when I was accepted on the course. It was great coming home with homework on plant colour combinations rather than in my previous studies employment law.” Lantra’s Women and Work grant helped Nicki fund the course, which she is about to complete in May. But not content with her studies alone Nicki established Blue Daisy Gardens 18 months ago. To date she has already completed seven designs and is establishing an order book for design. “I’ve taken on a team of three who concentrate on the gardening side of the business which allows me to focus on the design element, managing the business and looking after the customers,” she says. But it is the knowledge she has gained on the course that Nicki says has really given her the confidence to grasp her new career and move it forward. “I feel comfortable when meeting new customers whether it be giving them advice, talking about specific plants or drawing up a new look for their garden.” “I shall be sad to leave college, it has been wonderful learning here but I’m not planning to leave my training there. Once the business has generated enough income I’d like to invest in more study, ideally a degree and then aim for bigger and more exciting design projects.” Lyndsay Bird, Lantra Women and Work Programme Manager said, “Nicki has really taken on the spirit of this programme. It is very inspiring to see the heights that her career has already taken, and no doubt this is just the beginning for her and Blue Daisy Gardens. She is a great example of how training can develop your skills and open great career opportunities, which is what this programme is designed to achieve.” The Lantra Women and Work funding programme will commence in June 2011 (subject to contract). For more information and to register your interest visit www.lantra.co.uk/Women-and-Work. Follow Lantra on twitter at www.twitter.com/LantraSSC. ENDS ISSUED BY Lantra Press Office Samuel Zelmer-Jackson, PR Co-ordinator Tel: 02476 858 418 or email media@lantra.co.uk Follow Lantra on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LantraSSC CREDIT FOR PHOTO Nicki Jackson – Lantra’s Women and Work Horticulture, Landscaping and Sports Turf Joint Award Winner 2010/11 NOTES TO EDITOR About Women and Work • The Women and Work: Sector Pathways Initiative is about raising skills and unlocking potential. The project aims to raise recruitment levels in sectors where women are under-represented; increasing earning potential and aiding career progression. The initiative is in response to recommendations by the Women and Work Commission’s report ‘Shaping a Fairer Future’ and receives government funding, matched by employer contributions. • Women and Work funding is available to those working in agriculture, aquaculture, environmental conservation, farriery, fencing, fisheries management, game and wildlife, horticulture, landscaping and sports turf, production horticulture, land-based engineering and trees and timber. • For more information: www.lantra.co.uk/womenandwork/ About Lantra • Lantra is the Sector Skills Council for land-based and environmental industries, working to ensure these businesses access the training, qualifications, skills and knowledge they need. • Lantra represents 17 industries: agricultural livestock and crops; animal care; animal technology; aquaculture; environmental conservation; equine; farriery; fencing; fisheries management; floristry; game and wildlife management; land-based engineering; horticulture, landscaping and sports turf; production horticulture; trees and timber and veterinary activities. • By working together with the sector, Lantra leads research on skills issues and business needs, sets national standards and develops qualifications to meet modern business needs and help businesses grow through skills. • For more information see www.lantra.co.uk.

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