In part two of our series charting the rise to success of some of MOL’s most laudable female alumni, Richard Phillips talks to Janine Waters, an Assistant HR Manager for Saga Group Ltd, and discovers why the decision not to go to a traditional university was the best decision she ever made.
It must have come as a bit of a shock to the ‘red brick’ universities when, earlier this year, a YouGov survey appeared to coincide with the launch of the 2013 Good University Guide stating that a whopping 52 per cent of graduate employers found that ‘none’ or ‘few’ of their graduate recruits could be described as ‘work ready’.
Of course, the revelation only confirmed what had long been suspected by the purveyors of professional training programmes: that the traditional university offering just doesn’t meet the needs of contemporary employers. And, as a budding workforce entrant back in the early 2000s, this was also something of which Janine Waters, now a 26-year old Assistant HR Manager at Saga Group Ltd, was all too keenly aware.
‘I knew when I was 16 that I didn’t want to stay at school and do A-Levels like everyone else. It didn’t make sense. I’d already been offered an apprenticeship in Business Administration with Pfizer Ltd, which I knew would be a great start to my Human Resources journey. After that, I found it relatively easy to work my way into a Resourcing Advisor’s role with the NHS, which was my next position.’
Like so many of life’s most notable success stories, Janine pulled herself up by her boot straps, working hard to prove herself in a highly competitive employment market. She soon secured a position as an HR Assistant within the manufacturing industry and this gave her confidence a huge boost. She felt like she was ready to tackle whatever came her way. Frustratingly, however, the road to success wasn’t as straightforward as Janine had first expected and, soon after she began her new job, she ran into the symbolic brick wall that so many young professionals run into at this stage in their careers.
‘It became clear during the first few months that the role alone wasn’t going to give me the kind of developmental grounding I needed to progress – the team was small and the support they were able to give was limited. Naturally, I wanted to feel as though I was bettering myself, but it seemed that all job adverts demanded applicants who were either part- or fully-qualified, so I knew that, if I wanted to further my career beyond the assistant level and increase my employability, I’d have to go back to studying.’
Fortunately, after she made some enquiries, Janine discovered the Advanced Diploma in HR Management course and, following some research on the CIPD website, found out that she’d be able to undertake it flexibly with MOL, which suited perfectly the demands of a full-time role that left little opportunity to undertake day release or extended time out from work. That’s when she came to us.
‘I studied eight units in total – from reward and employee relations to human resources within a business context (which was really tough!) – and I found myself continually surprised and engaged by what I was learning. Some way into the programme, I was offered a post with Saga Group Ltd as an HR Officer – partly a result of my having started the qualification, I guess – and I jumped at the chance.’
There, Janine had a large team upon whom she could rely for help, support and guidance throughout her studies when she needed it. Plus, there were far more strategic challenges to get her teeth into, as a result of her new employer’s size and stature, and this correlated ideally with the theory she was learning on the HR Management programme.
‘Everything I learned was directly applicable to my day-to-day activities,’ she insists. ‘As a result of the programme, I’m now confident that the advice I give and the processes I follow are appropriate and correct. And it’s great to be in a position where I can provide proactive guidance without relying so much on other people for advice on how to do so.’
It was testament to all Janine’s hard work both on the course and in the workplace that, upon completion of the programme, she was promoted to the role of Assistant Manager. Nowadays, she has a team that reports in to her and she’s been charged with helping to develop those individuals in their respective roles and careers. Every day is exciting and different and, because the company is going through a period of change, Janine is facing a whole host of new challenges and opportunities.
‘I absolutely love it!’ she says. ‘I can’t wait for my official accreditation to come through from the CIPD and then it’s my graduation! I never thought that I’d be a “graduate” and I’m so excited about it. The best things are, I’ve been able to do it without all the debts that a traditional university education gets people into and I’m already at a point where I’m on a career track to a fully-fledged manager’s role. I’m even thinking about looking into another programme with MOL.’