About Deirdre

Like many students, I am studying and working full-time and balancing family commitments.

I part-qualified in Human Resources after leaving university and then specialised in Learning and Development. I worked for 10 years in international financial consulting, before returning to the UK to run my own coaching and learning business. I then took a career break to bring up my son and, wanting to balance family needs, I found myself working in a pastoral leadership role in a school.

Why did you choose to study a CIPD course with ICS Learn?

I wanted to move into Human Resources and realised that I needed to get an up-to-date and recognised CIPD qualification.


I chose ICS Learn because it offered weekend-based residential workshops. This was important as I wasn’t allowed time off work to attend weekday courses. The course presented good value for money — not the cheapest, but certainly not the most expensive — and a straight-forward monthly payment plan, especially important because I am financing the course myself. When I phoned for information, the course advisor took time to find out about me, my previous qualifications and experience and, most importantly, what I was looking for, rather than using a “hard sell” approach. With their advice I felt confident in choosing the CIPD Level 5 Intermediate Diploma in Human Resource Management.

When did you start the course?

I started in November 2014. I’ve now completed six of the eight modules. It was four months before I submitted the first assignment. Waiting for the result was nerve-wracking. I passed and got great feedback that really spurred me on. I also prepared draft assignments for modules 1 and 2 before attending the first CIPD workshop. Had I checked earlier with the tutor, I could have saved myself a lot of time – after the workshop, I ended up re-doing a lot of my drafts, but I passed both!

How did you find a study pattern that worked for you?

Initially, I tried to study for 30 minutes or an hour every night, or every other night, but found that hard-going as it was too “bitty” for my learning style. I switched to working in 3-4 hour chunks of time at weekends and found that suited me much better. It increased the flow of my learning and helped me understand the concepts better. I could really delve into a topic and enjoyed the study much more. My advice, if you find that the approach you are using isn’t working, try a different approach until you find something that works for you.

What’s your top study tip?

To be really organised in how you keep your notes and research. So, when a “quick study window” pops up, you don’t waste time trying to organise yourself, you can get stuck in straight away.

What would you have done differently?

Looking back, I wish I had made more use of the tutors right from the start. I was worried about contacting them with questions in case they thought I was a bit “dim”. This couldn’t be further from the truth; the tutors give prompt and helpful advice. My recommendation is contact your tutors! If you get stuck, don’t quite understand what the assignment is looking for, find you’ve run out of motivation or are finding progress slow, contact the tutors – they are friendly, helpful and many of them have also studied with ICS Learn and they totally understand what it’s like to be a distance-learning student.

How did you use the other ICS Learn online resources?

Confession time! I haven’t accessed the ICS Learn webinars. However, last week, I took part in a webinar at work and found it so easy to link up. Also I didn’t realise that I don’t have to listen in to the ICS Learn webinars in real time – I can access them at any time on the website, so now I’m going to use the Student Community regularly. It’s contemporary learning and development, after all!

Have you made use of the resources from CIPD?

The CIPD website has been a fantastic resource for research and for completing my assignments. I use it pretty much daily. The fact sheets and surveys are great. I’ve referenced them in every assignment.

I haven’t attended any CIPD branch meetings yet. As a student, I worry that I don’t have enough practical experience and the meetings seem to cover quite “high-brow” topics. However, I am interested in the CIPD mentoring programme and have applied to join.

Any final tips and hints?

Keeping going…remind yourself why you’re doing the course. My aim was to move into HR and I’ve achieved exactly that! I moved into an HR role in September this year. One of the key deciding factors that the selection panel fedback, was that I got the job because I was doing the CIPD course.

When you attend the workshops you meet other students. Keep in touch with them. It builds your network and you can motivate each other.

I’ve loved the course so far and, who knows, perhaps Level 7 beckons.