Amy Sutherland, Our New Candidate of the Quarter

Congratulations to Amy Sutherland who is our latest Candidate of the Quarter. Amy, who will complete a three-year HR graduate programme with Centrica plc in October, raced through her CIPD Advanced Diploma in Human Resource Management in 16 months. Amy improved her performance as she progressed through each stage of the qualification by achieving two Passes, two Merits and four Distinctions! Currently choosing to step away from HR for her final placement of the scheme, Amy is gaining all round business experience in the energy company’s Chief Executive Office, a position she describes as similar to a junior Chief of Staff role. Here we find out about her experience of the Level 7 qualification and her secret to success.

Joining Centrica’s Graduate Scheme

“I joined Centrica in 2017 having graduated from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow with a degree in Law and Business.  I have worked in lots of different roles on the graduate scheme which is great experience but moving around so much can be quite challenging.  We started our CIPD in our second year which has progressively made placements easier because where I lacked experience, I was gaining knowledge.

From the beginning of my qualification I decided to study every Tuesday and Thursday from 5pm to 7.30pm after work.  I wasn’t sure that I would keep to these good intentions, but I managed to stick to them throughout the programme, increasing my study time before exams. Having that discipline really helped. Once I got into this good routine, I saw I was quickly making progress and kept to my schedule.

I now have a much better understanding of the HR world

Achieving the CIPD qualification has really improved the quality of my work and thinking. I always wanted to partner my experience in placements with an academic and theoretical knowledge of HR. I now have a much better understanding of the HR world and a really comprehensive overview of the workplace. As a result, I am much more confident in my work.

My experience of Watson Martin and my personal adviser Melanie Martin was great. From day one we decided how my programme would run, selected my modules and set clear objectives. Melanie helped me to map out all the modules to ensure they would complement my placements.  She knew I wanted to get through the qualification quickly, so we set hard deadlines.  She was easy to work with – always very quick to respond to any questions and gave me great advice. Melanie provided robust feedback which is why I think I had such an upward trajectory throughout the qualification.

The VLE and the online facilities are all very straightforward to navigate.  Everything is divided up into learning outcomes and topics, which makes it easy to find the information you need. What I absolutely loved and what made a huge difference in my exams, was that Watson Martin had a list of CIPD podcasts for each learning outcome of the exam curriculum.   I would listen to these on my run every morning and found that I was learning a lot. The day before my HRC exam I listened to two podcasts while running a 10k and used examples from both in the exam the following day.

Amy’s Tip

My tip for success is to stick to a structured study plan.  I also followed Melanie’s advice to sign up for newsletters from lots of different sources and read them first thing every morning.  Reading widely and listening to podcasts seemed like little things that at the time I didn’t think were substantial but they really made a difference to my results, gaining distinctions in both exams.

I’m not sure what my ultimate career aims are but I know the CIPD qualification has improved my HR knowledge and skills.  Having stepped out of HR to work in the CEO office, I would like to grow my career with some commercial experience in other parts of the business so I will have something different to bring to the table if I want to return to an HR role.”

HR and Centrica plc

Human Resources plays an essential role across the Centrica business and the company has operated a three-year HR graduate scheme for many years. All candidates enrol on the CIPD Advanced Diploma which is delivered by Watson Martin at the start of their second year.

Watson Martin Director Melanie Martin who supported Amy throughout her qualification commented: “Working with HR graduates from Centrica over the past nine years has been highly rewarding.  Overall, the standard is very high which is a credit to Centrica’s graduate recruitment and to the individual candidates. Amy has been a delight to work with – she responded so positively to the feedback and it has been great to see how she progressed in terms of her grades. Amy worked hard from the outset and really understood the need to balance her knowledge with business orientation, presentation and persuasion.  I expect she will go far in her career.”

To find out more about CIPD qualifications at all levels please contact our specialist advisers on: 020 7932 2760.