Attracting the Best

How a professional qualification in HR can boost your career

CentricaCentrica plc is a British multinational utility company and the UK’s largest energy supplier. The owner of British Gas, the group has an interest in the whole of the energy chain from exploration and production to supplying electricity and gas to consumers and business.

With 39,000 employees across the UK, North America, Canada, Norway and the Netherlands, Human Resources plays an essential role across the business and the company has invested in a specialist three year HR graduate programme to attract the very best talent.

We are all aware of the Diploma’s importance in opening up opportunities in the future and it was something I was looking for when applying for graduate programmes,”

Emma Parkes

Part of an award winning corporate graduate recruitment scheme, the HR programme has been running for several years and has an intake of between six and ten graduates each year. Its aim is to create HR professionals of the future and central to its success are three rotational placements across the Centrica Group and within the different parts of HR, where the graduates build up a portfolio of skills and learn about the overall business.

Also key, is the provision of a nationally recognised professional qualification in HR and all graduates on the programme enrol on the CIPD Advanced Diploma delivered by Watson Martin Partnership at the start of their second year.

Programme sponsor is Simon O’Farrell FCIPD, an HR Partner at Centrica, who went through the Advanced Diploma with Watson Martin Partnership five years ago.

His role is to ensure that the HR programme meets the company’s talent pipeline forecast, provides the best opportunities and development for those involved and, above all, attracts the most talented graduates on the market.

Click on the tab below to find out what he has to say.

Simon OFarrell

Professionalism of Tutors

All graduates on the Advanced level programme are allocated their own Watson Martin Partnership dedicated experienced adviser to support them throughout the process allowing them to work at their own pace with maximum flexibility. Regular one-to-one contact either by Skype, meeting, phone or email takes place throughout the programme which can take up to two years but is often completed in a shorter time. To achieve their Masters level Diploma, the graduates must pass eight modules, four mandatory including two examination modules, and four optional.

Watson Martin Partnership’s mixed mode CIPD status, which combines blended methods with work based assessment of competency, and the qualification’s modular design make it perfect for candidates to use their own HR experiences as part of the process.  And, with 16 modules to choose from – the widest choice offered by any CIPD centre – there is something for everyone.

What stood out for me about Watson Martin Partnership,” Simon remembers “was the professionalism of the tutors and the emphasis placed on creating your own development plan during the course of your studies which meant that you could align your study to real time practical situations in the workplace. From my own experience of being on the programme, I quickly realised how ‘cold’ my answers would have been without real practical work examples to bring situations to life.

And the result, click on the tab below to learn about the excellent results from the programme.

Tried and Tested Formula

As well as advice and guidance, we provide valuable pastoral care to our candidates who often contact us post qualification for information on particular subjects, which is testament to the strong relationships we build.  Students are encouraged to achieve the highest level of CIPD membership they are eligible for and we guide them through this process.  Our tried and tested formula produces good results and our success is down to excellent support from the advisory team and committed candidates who want to do well.”

Melanie reiterates the importance of the programme’s flexibility in delivery allowing candidates to tackle modules as and when they are exposed to that particular subject during each rotation of the graduate scheme.

Centrica candidates are focused, committed individuals who recognise the value of the qualification in supporting their HR roles but they are also in busy, demanding jobs.  The fact that they can use work based projects to provide evidence based responses to the assessments means they can successfully juggle the programme with a full work schedule. Additionally, running a CIPD programme in house allows candidates to benefit from group support, seek advice from those who have already completed the programme, and it helps them relate current HR management themes to their own organisation,” she adds.

Individual Success Stories

Many of the graduates who have been through the Centrica development programme have been promoted to Heads of HR or as HR Managers in specialist areas such as talent and reward. Wherever their careers take them, they have a firm grasp of many of the core principles of HR management which they can build on in the future.

Find out more about their individual successes below.


Opening Up Opportunities

Centrica regularly receives a number of prestigious awards for its graduate training scheme and has made the Times top 100 Graduate Employers list for the last five years. With the CIPD Advanced Diploma now a prerequisite for the vast majority of senior HR and L&D roles, the qualification offers an extra incentive to attracting the best graduates on to the programme.

We are all aware of the Diploma’s importance in opening up opportunities in the future,” adds Emma, “and it was something I was looking for when applying for graduate programmes.”

In addition to its graduate training programme, Centrica offers a range of summer placements and insight days for undergraduates as well as schemes for apprenticeships and trainees.  Further details can be found at:  For further information about the CIPD Advanced Diploma and other qualifications offered by Watson Martin Partnership visit