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ONE step inside an exam room is enough to bring back that
uneasy feeling that nothing you revised for will appear on the
paper.

Terrifying though they may be, taking exams and obtaining
qualifications is becoming increasingly necessary to give agents
the edge in an ever-competitive work environment.

Qualifications are not just about learning new information
– many courses are designed to recognise the practical
experience agents already have.

But it can be hard work to manage both work and home life
without worrying about additional time for study.

The Guild of Business Travel Agents’ City and Guilds
Certificate in Business Travel is currently the only qualification
for business travel consultants.

Travel Weekly followed Carlson Wagonlit operations manager Diane
Baker through her 18-month course at management level.

Diane is married and has two young sons. She lives in London and
works in-house for Carlson Wagonlit at BP in Sunbury.

Diane said: “There’s not a lot of training for people at
my level and I felt I needed something a bit more challenging.”

The course consisted of three modules – managing and
developing staff, financial management in the travel industry and
managing and developing business accounts.

Each module included two revision days, an exam and a coursework
assignment. The course took 18 months to complete, with each module
lasting six months. Here’s Diane’s course diary.

January 23 2003

“I’m going back into the classroom today and I’ve
got to admit I’m feeling nervous.

It’s a revision day for the first module on managing and
developing staff.

When I went in I saw there were students from other multiples
and independents. On a lot of the courses I’ve been on your
classmates are from your own company, but there was no rivalry. The
tutors were good and had a sense of humour, which helped.

Now I’ve got to do my assignment, which includes preparing
reports and planning interviews and inductions.”

So far, so good. But how will Diane feel about the exam?

June 22 2003

“Today I sat the exam for the first module. Like all the exam
dates, it’s on a Sunday so I took Friday off to revise
– that’s another day I’ve had to give up.

It’s been a busy few months and I’m trying to manage
study and work, but when I’m in the office my job has to come
first. I stayed late at work to study because at home I don’t
normally have the opportunity to sit down.

Although I was relieved to finish the exam, I am feeling guilty
about the children so am going to make sure I spend some time with
them.”

How did Diane do? Read on…

December 6 2003

“One down and two to go – I’ve passed the first part
of the course. I’ve worked really hard on my employment law
assignment for this second module on financial management, but it
was difficult because I’ve realised that law can be
interpreted in different ways.

For tomorrow’s exam, I’ve tried to fit in revision
whenever I can, but sometimes my youngest son doesn’t
understand. He sees my writing on the paper and wants to do some
too. Quite often I’ve been sitting up in bed falling asleep
while working.”

It sounds like long hours and hard work. But did Diane do enough
to make it through to the last module?

January 23 2004

“Just heard I’ve passed the second part of the course. My
confidence is growing and now I really think I can do it.”

All the study has paid off for Diane, but can she sustain her
juggling act for module three?

March 25 2004

“We’re on the home stretch and I think everyone is
relieved. I’ve just finished a revision day and there’s
been lots of new things to learn on the third module about business
accounts.”

Not long to go now…

June 27 2004

“There was a big family party last night, but I had to decline
because I’ve got my last exam today. I was nervous when I
woke up this morning, but I finished the exam in time. Can’t
wait to celebrate tomorrow.”

All the work is over, but there’s still a tense wait for
the results.

September 6 2004

“Even though I’ve been on holiday with the boys I
couldn’t resist sending work a couple of e-mails to see if
I’ve passed the last part of the course. When I got to work
today there was finally an e-mail saying I’ve passed, so
I’m off to the pub for lunch to celebrate. Looking back
I’m glad I did it. It was definitely worth it and a real
personal achievement.”