Women's Day - CIPD & Me: Rebecca Marsden and Fiona Fairley

Wed 08 Mar 2023

Continuing our series of case studies during International Women’s Day, we speak to Rebecca Marsden and Fiona Fairley of the LTE Group.

Rebecca and Fiona are the HR Business Partners for The Manchester College and UCEN Manchester respectively. Both have more than 20 years of experience in HR and spoke to us about their CIPD qualifications and how they have shaped their careers.

Which CIPD courses have you completed in your career?

Rebecca: My qualification pre-dates the CIPD levels! I did the Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resource Management and followed that up with the Advanced Certificate in Employment Law. I believe the modern equivalent is the Level 7 qualification.

Fiona: Well, I did my CIPD qualifications north of 20 years ago at Stockport College, attending evening classes. My qualification was the ‘Licentiate Membership’. Like Rebecca, my qualification pre-dates the current Levels system.

Did your qualification change your career course or your aspirations?

Rebecca: Definitely! I wanted to be a teacher. I was definitely going to be a primary school teacher! I applied to university, got accepted on the course but…it didn't start until the following September. So I ended up getting HR Officer job while I waited for the course to start and I was like “oh, actually I quite like HR. And I like dealing with people. Tell you what I'll do, I'll do my CIPD and make my mind up after that.”

And that was 20 years ago.

Fiona: My path was different; I'd already decided that HR was the field I wanted to work in when I took my first CIPD qualification.

My first graduate job was as a trainee Pensions Officer. I was in that job for about 18 months and the HR office was the office next door. And because we dealt with benefits there was a lot of interface with HR. I thought “that looks more fun!”, so I made the move into the HR arena and enrolled for my first CIPD course.

People say the grass is always greener. But on this occasion, it actually was.

How has the learning helped you to progress in your career?

Rebecca: I think it definitely improved my confidence. Having that technical knowledge to go with your practical knowledge definitely builds up your confidence, especially in those early years when I was in my early 20s.

In large organizations, colleagues see you as the experts on all facets of employment law.  Back then there wasn't as much information available on the Internet, so you almost had to to learn it from a book or from a course.

It was really important to get that foundation of knowledge. That, and the networking. There are people that I met on that course that I still stay in touch with now. And as well as being able to offer advice to each other, they let you know when job opportunities come up.

Fiona: In the early years of my career, the networking aspect definitely was a positive for me.

So, what is the one take away you think that might summarize all of your CIPD training, or tip that you can offer to someone that's looking to embark on a career in HR?

Rebecca: I think my CIPD course really encouraged me to go back and reflect and review and evaluate any decisions that I had made. You get into that process on the course and I still do that now. I'll go back and review it and evaluate it. What went well, what could I have done better? What would I have changed if we were to do that again?

Fiona: For me it’s that solid foundation of knowledge that the course gave me. That body of knowledge gives you the confidence to treat that as a springboard and move forward. You’ll be in a meeting with really senior managers and they will be looking to you for a final decision on a colleague’s employment…without that knowledge, I think that would be quite difficult.

To find out more about MOL’s CIPD qualifications and how they can help you advance YOUR career, visit MOL Learn.

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