After finishing college, Nzinga moved to London to study Law at university. Once Nzinga finished her degree, she decided that a career in Law wasn’t for her. Not knowing what she wanted to do, Nzinga began working in a couple of retail roles. Until, an opportunity for a Security Officer came up – Nzinga was always interested in Heathrow and jumped at the chance to begin a career there.
Nzinga really enjoyed her time in Security and even progressed to Security Manager which she “loved”. Nzinga then began a secondment for the Olympics and Paralympics, where she was involved in the construction of the games terminal and thoroughly enjoyed being in the operation managing a project. She then progressed into the Commercial team as a Media Advertising Executive and was involved in pop up stands for retail. Nzinga had a passion for delivering projects. Whilst in this position, the job of Nzinga’s “dreams” came up in APOC as a Passenger Flow Manager, where she stayed for two years. During her time in this role, Nzinga missed working in the terminals and wanted to acquire innovative skills that she could transfer into her role.
Nzinga then developed into the role of Baggage Innovation where she identified a skills-gap of leadership skills and began to consider additional study. A colleague advised Nzinga to attend a drop-in centre to speak to the Apprenticeship team at the Academy to discuss whether it was the right move for her. Nzinga felt confident that the MBA was the next step for her after meeting with the team.
During her Apprenticeship, Nzinga was challenged to think critically in ways that she never had to before and was able to apply what she was learning to her role. Nzinga admits her Apprenticeship has “completely changed” her whole understanding about how to lead people and corporate strategy and has been a crucial link to her development as a leader. Nzinga praises her manager for being very understanding and explains how Heathrow are very considerate of her wellbeing and have helped her adapt her time to get assignments done, expressing: “I really feel the business is behind me”. Most importantly, Nzinga now recognises that her leadership style is different from others, which is something she had never considered before. The MBA has forced her to be in a situation of challenging conversations with other senior leaders in workshops. Previously feeling underconfident, Nzinga can now respectfully disagree with people and work around challenges in business.
What Nzinga takes away most from her experience is how grateful she is to be doing what she is doing, explaining: “the fact that I’m someone who has already embarked on their career journey and has been given the opportunity to go back to education is fantastic”. Nzinga expresses that even though her Apprenticeship has been the hardest and most challenging thing she has had to do, it has always kept her in the stretch zone, where she learns the most. She has to critically think all of the time and the Apprenticeship has been the pinnacle link between her personal development and being a leader.
Now an Innovation, Product and Solutions Manager, Nzinga looks forward to completing her Apprenticeship and is determined to become a senior leader at Heathrow, admitting: “I want to aim as high as I can”.
Nzinga now knows that no matter where you are in your career, you can always learn and develop by “finding what opportunities are out there that suits what you are trying to achieve – I’m sure you’ll find it at Heathrow”.