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ICS Real Stories: Kay | Online CIPD Level 5 Review

Kay Robbie

CIP Level 5

Studying CIPD Level 5 in Learning and Development has helped Kay Robbie transition her career from retail into HR and L&D - she's now happily working as an HR Advisor! 


I had worked within Retail Management for 8 years and loved the experience; from sale preparation and customer complaints to achieving a bonus as a team and the discount!

My first role was very focused on people development, which I didn’t realise I enjoyed so much until I left that brand and my next role was more product focused.

I personally find that I can only figure out what I do want, by knowing what I don’t want… and product was not my passion, even if it was beautiful clothes!

I wasn’t sure where to go next. So many people who work in retail want to “work in head office” and I was concerned that I was stuck as all of my experience was in retail management.

I decided to take my own managerial advice and use my management experience to break out and I felt L&D was a perfect area to focus these transferable skills whilst still in my comfort zone of retail!

I did the L&D CIPD for 2 reasons: to be sure that it was what I thought it was, and so that employers would take my application more seriously.

I knew in order to study I would need to find a course that could be completed 100% in my own time and didn’t require me to go to classes; as my shifts at work would not allow for that.

I searched online and found the course with ICS Learn which seemed perfect! I spoke with Ciaran McEachen and he answered all of my silly questions!

He suggested I study a higher level than I thought I could and put my mind at rest in regard to this monetary investment into my future career.

At first, I found it incredibly difficult to learn online, and on my own - my whole education has been in a classroom with a teacher and surrounded by my classmates!

However, I got into a rhythm of studying and preparing for the module assessments and my tutors were incredibly helpful. Carol Margerrison, Stephen Littler, Keith Watson and Kathy Daniels were always on hand when I needed them and were super-fast at marking my assignments, so I could move onto the next module.

The time it took me to complete each module really varied, but that was more down to my motivation. If you’re a bit of a procrastinator I really would suggest an alternative way to study!

I later completed the Employment Law module of the HR CIPD and as my employer had paid for me that was definitely a nudge to work faster! 

I was worried as I didn’t have any direct L&D or HR experience that I would struggle with the assignments, however, my experience in retail was more than enough to use as examples to support my learning.

Although I was studying for the CIPD qualification and I had a lot of work experience, I did struggle to find a role.

I eventually signed myself up for an internship and luckily, I was offered a permanent HR Assistant role within 1 week! I spent 14 months in that role and then moved to another brand as an HR Advisor.

Although the CIPD gave me the theory, working on the job significantly supported my development and helped me to use those transferable skills and experiences to become a more rounded HR professional.

I would definitely recommend ICS Learn as a provider, I would just advise you pick the best method for your personal learning style to gain the most from the qualification.


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