I always felt uneasy about my lack of HR qualifications, so this was an opportunity to get those letters after my name...CIPD membership influenced my promotion in early 2018

Robert Colby, Assoc. CIPD - Civ HR Senior Business Partner, Joint Forces Command

Robert's story

Robert Colby’s title says a lot about the benefits he’s reaped from gaining Associate Membership through the Experience Assessment route to CIPD membership in September 2017. He’s already been promoted.

He joined the RAF headquarters at High Wycombe as a civil servant in 2004, worked his way up and, four years ago, moved into HR when he got the job of HR Business Partner. He worked hard to augment his business knowledge with specialist HR knowledge. Then, three years ago, a number of things came together which prompted him to apply for Associate membership of the CIPD. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) committed to developing and accrediting its HR practitioners, and made funding available. Robert had the requisite three years’ experience in HR to apply for the Experience Assessment route – which, as a busy professional and father of three young sons, seemed to be the ideal approach for him. 

'It allowed me to use the experience I had already gained, rather than having to sit and study for an exam in the evenings and at weekends', he says.

'I always felt uneasy about my lack of HR qualifications, so this was an opportunity to get those letters after my name', he says. But as well as self-confidence and credibility, he also relished being able to connect with a wider HR network across government and the private sector, and to tap into the wealth of CIPD resources, from research and specialist knowledge on the website to People Management magazine and events.

Robert completed the eight-week Experience Assessment process and successfully gained Associate Membership.

Was it worth it? Definitely, says Robert. 'It was challenging – particularly juggling it with my busy day job and a young family – but it was surprisingly enjoyable, and I found it very satisfying to reflect on what I had done over the previous three years. The face-to-face assessment was a discussion, not an interview, so that actually consolidated a lot of my knowledge too.'

It also influenced his promotion in early 2018. 'The whole experience had not only helped me to focus on what I’d done, and the business impact, but also to articulate it at a strategic level in a way that was clear and easy-to-understand even by people outside the MoD', he says. So it helped him at job interviews, but also opened up the job market to him. 'For many of the jobs I was looking at CIPD accreditation was either essential or desirable', he says.

He would recommend the route he took to others. 'It can be intense at times, but I spoke to my managers and colleagues and warned them when the peak periods were likely to be (and the CIPD gives you very good guidance on this, as well as the time commitment you should expect to make at different stages) so we could put in place contingency plans.'

Crucially, he is now better at his job, he says, and he’s working to address areas for development that emerged from his feedback report.

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