HR professionals are in the business of training and developing entire organisations, yet often they can neglect to improve their own skills.
Jyoti Rekha Das, an HR Manager with India’s energy giant Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. (ONGC), realised she had been doing just that when she arrived in the UK with her family on a two year sabbatical in 2013.
Despite having 15 years HR experience under her belt, Jyoti had not taken much advantage of any formal training since her Master’s degree in Human Resources and Organisational Development in 2000 and recognised it was high time she upgraded her own skills.
As her company had agreed to approve further leave for studies during her time overseas, Jyoti began the process of reviewing qualifications and providers. She had already identified that the CIPD Advanced Level 7 Diploma was the right level but with her husband busy in a new IT role and two young children to look after, Jyoti’s requirements were specific. She needed a fully flexible model which could adapt around her hectic family life.
Watson Martin Partnership’s bespoke qualification fitted the bill perfectly and Jyoti signed up for the Level 7 Diploma with personal adviser Michelle McLaughlin in October 2015. With three modules now completed and a fourth underway, Jyoti is well on schedule to complete the qualification by October, the end of her study leave period.
Here she describes the experiences of being an education returner and explains why those who work in HR should not forget their own personal development needs.
“I joined ONGC as an HR graduate straight from the prestigious Delhi School of Economics at the University of Delhi, in 2000. The organisation is India’s leading public sector company in the oil and energy sector and has a large, very diverse workforce based in many locations throughout the country and overseas.
“Catering to the Learning and Development (L&D) needs of such a large group of people isn’t simple. There are cultural differences too between people from different regions, but the bigger challenge is managing the wide variety in skills and experience.
“We have yearly transfers from one location to another for considerable numbers of our staff. HR plays a pivotal role in helping them settle in the new office locations. We have to display sensitivity as well as efficiency in our work of integrating these employees in the new locations. This can be very challenging.
“Throughout these years I was given an opportunity to work on various HR assignments in different roles and positions within the organisation. Before coming to the UK on a sabbatical, I was the training and development head in a regional office located at Kolkata, leading a team which managed the training needs of 500 – 600 people.
“Since graduating, there have been many changes in HR practices worldwide. Large organisations can be a little slow to react to change, and I wanted the opportunity to gain a more global perspective, learn about the latest practices in HR and add to my skills.
“I was quite apprehensive about returning to study and questioned whether I would be able to do it after so long. But gradually I started to enjoy relating aspects of my learning to the workplace. Studying without work experience is simply theoretical. Studying with work experience has made the whole process much more meaningful.
Working with my personal adviser
“My personal adviser Michelle is an extremely knowledgeable lady who is always available and has been very helpful. We work out a mutually comfortable format with any necessary customisations for the modules being studied. Because I was a little apprehensive at the start, Michelle suggested we sequence the modules in the order of complexity so that I could gain confidence. This has worked really well and over time we have also developed a very friendly relationship.
“Watson Martin has been wonderful and has provided a unique and enriching learning experience. All the modules are very practical which you can relate to your workplace. It is an exceptionally well-designed course which gives a holistic exposure to the subjects and practices relevant in managing people today. I had not been exposed to learning in the UK as all my education had been in India, which is quite different. I have enjoyed it all and I am looking forward to the rest of it.
L&D skills with a global outlook
“My next promotion will be to a corporate role and this qualification will help me to manage the transition. The topics covered in the core modules will definitely help me to develop my leadership and strategic skills and the optional modules I have chosen will help build on my skills as an L&D practitioner, as well as giving me a global outlook.
“As HR professionals we are so involved in developing other people that we can stop learning ourselves. Now that I have returned to studying, I realise that learning is absolutely essential, not only for progression in your career, but for your own mental health and wellbeing. It is important to remember to love yourself.”
To find out more about CIPD qualifications, please call us on 020 7932 2760.