Fatima Da Cunha whizzed through her CIPD Foundation Diploma in a speedy 10 months having developed an effective way of combining a busy job with studying. Here she explains how the qualification will help her to achieve her dream job in HR.
Fatima Da Cunha decided she wanted a career in Human Resources having watched an HR Business Partner in action during a leadership meeting she attended. “I was fascinated by the way she communicated with the team and created a plan using everyone’s contributions. Since then, I knew what I wanted to do but that I first had to achieve a qualification in HR before putting myself forward for that function,” she explains.
Now, having had an excellent grounding in all the fundamentals of the profession through the CIPD Level 3 qualification, Fatima believes she is ready to apply for an HR role when an opportunity arises, something she hopes will happen sooner rather than later as the global food company she works for actively supports both developing talent internally as well as cross functional careers.
Currently employed as a Senior PA within the Emerging European Markets cluster of General Mills, Fatima set herself strict targets to get through the programme quickly.
“I would always type up my notes as soon as I could post workshop and then expand the information at a later date. Sometimes it’s the fear of a task that makes it feel daunting and not the task itself so revisiting an assignment that was already roughly drafted felt like a small gift to myself! I would try to submit my assignment ahead of the next workshop wherever possible to avoid falling behind or creating an unmanageable workload for myself,” she says.
Watson Martin was recommended to Fatima by colleagues within the industry and she opted for our workshop study route which suited her learning style. “The workshops were really beneficial, and I built a great network with the other students. My adviser was incredibly knowledgeable and really knew her stuff. I also had plenty of support from all the material online. The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and book recommendations were particularly helpful.”
Fatima’s previous work experience, first in hospitality at Wembley Stadium and then as an Operations Coordinator with the Football Association (FA), has all contributed to her desire to work in an HR role. And, while her involvement with HR tasks is currently quite limited, she believes the qualification has developed her as an individual.
“That being said,” she adds, “ the programme has definitely been useful in reminding me how important the basics are. Fundamental policies and procedures, confidentiality, GDPR, recording documents – being compliant in all these areas is imperative in any function of any business. I also know that I have learnt from the course so that when an opportunity arises I can go into it being the best HR practitioner I can be! Having a qualification under your belt is beneficial for your own confidence but also for your employer developing talent internally.”
Fatima’s top tips to getting CIPD qualified
Nail the basics
A Foundation qualification reaffirms the fundamentals needed to become an HR practitioner, so for some people it may be more beneficial to go back to basics rather than jump straight to Level 5.
It is possible to work and study
Consistency is key. Find a working method that suits you, for example two hour time blocks a couple of times a week or a full Sunday, and stick to it! Do not wait for motivation to inspire you, sometimes just tackling one question is motivation enough!
It’s much easier to add information, than take information out… trust me!
Read the feedback
Take time to read the feedback given to you from your adviser after each unit submission. The information will outline what you’re doing really well, and what you can work on for your next assignment.
Submit your assignments
Keep submitting your assignments throughout the year, it is worth it in the long run.
Do not overcomplicate the question – answer it yourself first, and then expand with additional materials. It’s easy to think that the questions ask for more than you know, but you may be pleasantly surprised by your own knowledge, or how you think about something.