Name: Annabelle Mullard

Lives in: The Midlands

Career: Human resources

Studied: CIPD Level 5 Intermediate Certificate in HR Management

Why ICS? Flexible modules that fit around her busy schedule

Annabelle ended up in HR "by accident". After another employee left the company, she found herself working as his replacement, filling the role of HR Manager. She really enjoyed her new responsibilities and decided that HR management was the career for her.

Whilst she enjoyed her job, Annabelle quickly realised that there would be no opportunity to progress unless she had a professional HR qualification. She also wanted to expand her knowledge in addition to what she was learning on the job.

To build on her experience, the next step was to earn a Level 5 Certificate from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

"The advisors I spoke to were knowledgeable and friendly"

Annabelle did a lot of research before deciding to study her CIPD qualification via distance learning. She had heard of ICS before, and when she searched for courses online, it was ICS that kept popping up.

She liked the flexibility of distance learning and the way the course content was laid out. The workshops and ongoing tutor support also appealed to her.

"I liked that ICS offered compulsory weekend workshops, so that I knew I would have face-to-face contact with my tutors and other students, which made the course feel less like studying alone," she tells us.

"When I made contact with ICS to discuss learning with them, the advisors I spoke to were knowledgeable and friendly, and allowed me to start studying my course whilst my company were arranging flexible payment options, so that I wasn't held up by admin and financing issues."

"I fit studying in around lunch breaks, baby nap-times and my free evenings"

When Annabelle signed up for the CIPD Level 5 course, she already had a lot on her plate. She was working full time in a demanding HR role, for a company that was undergoing major structural changes. But that wasn't the only challenge.

She recalls, "I was also commuting for over two hours per day, and I had a baby under the age of one, so it was already challenging trying to juggle my home-life and work-life!

"ICS made studying in addition to this as easy as it could possibly have been. I was able to study for my modules and assignments as and when I could; so I managed to fit studying in during lunch breaks, baby nap-times and my free evenings at my own discretion."

If she had an issue with or a question about her coursework, Annabelle found the CIPD tutors easy to contact. She says the feedback she got on assignments made a huge difference to the quality of her submitted work.

Another perk was the fact that workshops were held on weekends. This made it easy for her to arrange childcare, something that wouldn't have been possible had they been organised as weekday evening classes.

"ICS opened many doors for me"

After starting her course, Annabelle's employer noticed an improvement in her quality of work and rewarded her with a promotion. However, due to widespread company changes, she was later made redundant.

Although to many this would have seemed like a setback, for Annabelle it was an opportunity. Already pursuing a CIPD qualification, she was able to enter the job market as a highly desirable candidate.

"ICS opened many doors for me as soon as I started studying. After being made redundant, the fact that I was working towards a qualification was very appealing. I was contacted regularly, and still am, by both recruitment agencies and other employers."

"Really plan out your work, and just get it done!"

When asked what advice she has for new students, Annabelle recommends attending the workshops "as you go along". A lot of students leave the workshops to the end, and she reckons they don't get as much out of the course.

She also emphasises the importance of self-discipline. "Really plan out your work and just get it done," she says. Although you can study at your own pace, it still helps to plan your work ahead of time and stick to your plan.

"I rekindled my desire to study and to learn"

By earning a CIPD qualification, Annabelle didn't only expand her knowledge, but her opportunities as well. She's currently debating whether to return to university full time or pursue an advanced HR role.

She tells us, "The most influential change for me personally was that through studying for my qualification with ICS after having been out of education for eight years, I rekindled my desire to study and to learn.

"Thanks to studying for my CIPD qualification with ICS Learn, instead of feeling desolate when I was made redundant, I have found many doors have opened for me. I am very proud of having achieved something during such a tumultuous time, and I am very much looking forward to the future."

Stay tuned for more 'ICS Real Stories' right here on our blog. In the meantime, learn more about the CIPD Level 5 Certificate course that helped get Annabelle to where she is today.