Phoebe Barnes managed to turn the Covid lockdown to her advantage by completing her CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma at a record-breaking pace!

The result was she achieved her qualification in 12 months, a whole year faster than the time allowed to complete the programme, even astounding her Watson Martin adviser Louise Hill!

Now Phoebe, who is halfway through a three-year HR graduate programme with Centrica plc, is free to concentrate on her current role as a Transformation Specialist and of course, to make the most of her free time now that her studies are behind her.  Here we find out about her experience of the Level 7 qualification and how she managed to get through it so quickly.

“I joined Centrica in October 2019 after studying Classics at the University of Leeds and having completed an internship with the company. I’m very thankful I didn’t defer my place on the graduate programme as shortly after I joined COVID hit.  I am currently on my third placement in the Transformation team and so have a much better understanding of both HR and how the business runs than when I started.

Lockdown really spurred me on as there wasn’t anything to do socially so I could use all my spare time to complete the qualification quickly. It was very intense as I worked on my CIPD every weekend and at least three evenings a week after work. I set very strict studying hours and stuck to them and that’s how I progressed. I’m very pleased the hard work paid off and I don’t have that pressure anymore. It’s great not having to balance work and a social life with trying to complete the qualification so I’m very pleased I had the motivation to get it done when I did!

The Advanced Diploma has really improved my general understanding of HR and helped me to see the wider picture when I’m giving advice at work. Not only have I gained new knowledge and skills to support my role, but I now have more confidence in my decision making because I have examples to back it up or know where to look to find the answers.

I would highly recommend Watson Martin.  I’ve had a great experience and felt supported throughout by my adviser Louise Hill who was very quick in turning around feedback on assignments as she understood the pace I was working at and what I wanted to achieve. The VLE and online resources were clear and helpful, but the workshops really made the difference. They were so informative, and I enjoyed them all. Coincidentally, most were with another Watson Martin adviser Amanda Harris who was so knowledgeable about everything. She even took the time to have a couple of calls with me separately and I was impressed that she supported me even though I wasn’t her candidate.

My tip for success to other candidates is to keep up the momentum.  It’s a lot harder to stay motivated if you try and write an essay over weeks rather than days so my advice is to keep going even if that seems difficult at the time.

I’m not sure what my ultimate career aims are as I’m still only half-way through the graduate scheme.  I think I would like to specialise in a particular area of HR rather than be a generalist business partner, but I still have a long way to go so we shall see!”

Phoebe’s adviser at Watson Martin Louise Hill says:

Phoebe’s achievement is extremely impressive.  I have never had anyone complete the full Level 7 Diploma in only 12 months before and I have worked with a lot of candidates over the years! Phoebe should give herself extra kudos for the dedication and effort she must have put in over the past year.  She has done incredibly well and deserves lots of success in the future.”

Whilst not everyone will want to complete an Advanced qualification in such a short space of time, Phoebe has shown how we can deliver programmes flexibly and at a pace to suit candidates. For further information about all our CIPD qualifications and learning methods contact our specialist advisers on: 020 7932 2760.