Having graduated in 2010, Beth combined her wealth of experience in human resources with her postgraduate degree to secure a position as HR manager for a local firm.
Here, in her own words, she tells us how her Plymouth University experience influenced her successful career.
Why did you choose Plymouth University?
Plymouth was an ideal location for me and I was advised that Beryl Badger who taught the course was a HR guru to the South West.
Why did you choose this particular course at the University? What did you expect to gain from it?
After several years of working in HR I wanted to expand my knowledge through postgraduate study as well as work towards a professional qualification.
What was your entry route to the course? Did you come straight from college/sixth form? If not, tell us about what you were doing before coming to University.
I studied for an undergraduate degree in HR and Industrial Relations at the University of Kent, graduating in 2000 and then went on to work in HR in Plymouth and then Surrey, moving back to Devon in 2008 to work for Plymouth City Council where I wanted to gain some experience in Industrial Relations. I had previously completed a year of the CIPD professional qualification so I was allowed to jump onto year 2 of the program.
What was your experience of the course? Did it meet your expectations? Tell us about the good and bad bits, and how you overcame anything negative.
The course was great; I met lots of new people and am still in contact with them today. It was challenging working and studying at the same time but in the end I really felt like I had achieved something.
Did you receive support, both academically and socially while you were here?
Beryl Badger was incredibly supportive through my dissertation – I don’t think I would have got through it without her encouragement.
Did the course change your career goals at all?
Not really as I had always wanted to work in HR, but during the course I realised that my role at the time would not stretch me enough in the long term and the course made me realise that I wanted to work in the private sector again.
What advice would you give to anyone else considering the same course here?
If you are going to study part time and work at the same time, be prepared to work hard and miss out on social things, but remember it will be worth it in the end! Whilst graduating can feel like a bit of an anti-climax, having an MA and Chartered membership of the CIPD is so beneficial to your CV in the long term.
Did you go straight into work after completing your course? If not, please tell us what you were doing.
Shortly after graduating from my MA I changed jobs – I am now the HR Manager for Blue Chip Holidays, an SME based in Exeter. We manage a portfolio of 4-5* holiday properties across the South West and have ambitious growth plans. It’s an exciting time to join the company and I count myself as incredibly lucky to have this kind of opportunity in the South West.
If you are currently in employment, please tell us about your career path.
My first job in HR was as an HR Co-ordinator for HellermannTyton, Plymouth. I moved up to Surrey to further my career and went to work for Enterprise Rent-A-Car where I progressed quickly and got promoted three times within 8 months to HR Supervisor for their National Contact Centre.
I loved working for Enterprise but wanted to relocate back to Devon. When I moved back I recognised that I could benefit from some industrial relations and in depth employee relations experience. I went to work for Plymouth City Council as an HR Advisor for the Adult Social Care division providing support to a multi-site service area of 750 employees.
However, I also knew that if I wanted to live in the South West and get the best jobs in the long term I would need to further my qualifications and become a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development - MCIPD.
Through talking to colleagues at PCC I decided the MA in Personnel and Development at Plymouth University was the best way forwards.
How has your Plymouth University qualification enhanced your career opportunities and employability? Did it equip you with the right knowledge and skills?
When the opportunity to work at Blue Chip Holidays came up, one of the key priorities for my role was to set up a HR department from scratch. I was able to use my experience and learning during my MA to put together a strategy and implementation plan to do this; I presented this at my interview and got the job.
What would you list as your greatest career achievement? Do you have any goals for the future?
My greatest career achievement so far has been my work at Blue Chip and setting up a HR function from scratch, proving the value of HR and playing a key role in the overall business strategy.
My next career goal is Head of HR or HR Director.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?
Get some experience when you are studying if you can – HR is really hard to get into unless you have experience but there are lots of HR Managers out there that would be really grateful to have a free HR assistant on work experience or placement. This would enable you to learn the basics, understand HR Admin and start to see the practical application of employment law. This would also look really impressive on your CV alongside your qualifications.
As a graduate are you involved with the University now? For example, have you returned to speak to current students or kept in touch with your lecturers?
I am in touch with the university and I came back the year after I graduated to speak to students. I really enjoyed it and would be happy to come back again.
Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?
Yes. The content of the course is really beneficial and you will make great friends and contacts along the way!