Catherine Coady | Leeds University Business School | University of Leeds

Catherine Coady

Why did you choose Leeds University Business School?
Leeds was one of the few universities that offered the opportunity to gain a CIPD qualification alongside the MA. Having looked at job adverts for HR positions it quickly became clear that CIPD affiliation was a key requirement for most HR roles. I was also already living in Leeds and really loved the city.

Tell us about your course - why did you choose it?
I was previously working in a different sector and didn’t have any HR experience other than acting as a line manager. The course at Leeds is accessible to those who have not done HR so it seemed like the perfect choice. Also the modules provided a mixture of generalist and specialist learning (e.g. employment law and occupational psychology). At that stage I didn’t know whether I wanted to be a specialist or generalist so it provided a great opportunity to dip my toe into a lot of different HR areas.

What were the best things about your studies here – what did you enjoy the most?
The mixture of people on the course; we had students from China, Greece and India to name just a few. This diversity meant that in seminar discussions we were able to hear from a variety of different sector and cultural experiences. This made the HR discussions much richer and has had a real impact on my own career. My first role after the course was specializing in international pay and reward; I was able to draw on the insights shared on the course and use this in my role.

Did you win any awards, prizes or other achievements during your studies? Any notable achievements inside or outside your studies?
I was selected as one of the student reps for our course. This provided the opportunity to not only arrange fun social activities such as the summer ball but we also got involved in things like making sure students were supported when completing their dissertations. It was great to be able to represent other students on the course and make sure any concerns or questions they had were effectively communicated to the Course leaders.

How has your career progressed since leaving the business school? Have there been any notable highlights?
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have two fantastic roles since leaving university. Immediately after finishing the course I joined the Civil Service HR Fast Stream with my first role in HR policy at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Since then I have moved to UK Trade and Investment where I am the Head of the HR Business Partner Team. The best bit about my job is seeing how the support and guidance I provide helps the department deliver their objectives and when I’m able to help someone successfully navigate through a difficult HR issue.

What are your ambitions for the future?
I would like to continue progressing within the Civil Service and at some stage in the future do a private sector secondment to broaden my experience of HR delivery in different environments.

Do you think your experience and skills gained here will help you in your future career plans?
Definitely. I am already using the skills and experience in my day job, particularly with things like delivering presentations and understanding financial data.

What was your impression/experience of the facilities, the staff, your peers, the student union, the City of Leeds and the region itself?
It all left a great impression. It was really handy to have the Business School so close to the Student Union and the Careers Centre. I visited the Careers Centre several times when applying for jobs and participated in activities such as mock interviews which was really helpful. I also had the support of my professional development tutor throughout the whole application process for the Civil Service HR Fast Stream (which took about 5 months in total).

What would you say is your defining memory of studying here?
Sitting in the quiet study area reading journals! I also fondly remember a mock Trade Union negotiation that we did in one of the CIPD sessions.

Would you recommend the Business School to others who are considering studying here?
Absolutely! Not only did I really enjoy my course and meet some great people but it helped enormously to re-start my career path. Without the support of tutors and gaining the skills and knowledge on the course I wouldn’t be where I am today.