On 14 March 2015 the Business School will celebrate 65 years of Human Resource and Personnel Management at Middlesex University with a reunion for former students and staff. In the lead up to this historic event, we look at some of the alumni from these programmes and ask them about how their time studying at Middlesex has shaped their career and what changes they have seen in HR since they graduated.
The second Middlesex alumna taking the stage as we look back over 65 years is Kerry McEyeson. Now head of HR at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College, Kerry talks about why she loves working with students and describes some of the challenges facing employers nowadays.
Kerry McEyeson – Head of HR at Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College
Kerry's career in HR started 25 years ago when, despite being told she would have to start her HR career as a secretary, she secured her first job as Personnel Officer in a Local Authority social services department. Kerry loved the fast-paced nature of HR that she experienced in her first job, but she had always wanted to work in education, providing support in a teaching and learning environment.
"Having CIPD accreditation really sets you apart. If I had studied elsewhere I might have ended up with a masters degree in HR, but with no CIPD accreditation, so it was fantastic to get it all out of the way at once." - MA Human Resource Management alumna Kerry McEyeson
Kerry soon got a job in the HR department at UCL and since that day she has worked in education. After a few years moving between colleges in London, Kerry settled at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College, where she has been for nearly five years.
"The college environment is really appealing to me," Kerry says. "Although I don't work directly with students, I love seeing them come in in September, and then at the end of the year when they're sitting all their exams it's really exciting because you can see how much their lives are changing."
Working through change
Talking of change, Kerry says she has seen HR develop significantly over the past 25 years.
"One of the most dramatic changes in recent years has been the impact of the economy on employers, who now need to do so much more with far fewer people," she explains.
"You're presented with shrinking budgets and no pay awards, so you have to work hard to motivate your employees, which can be difficult in a turbulent environment."
As a result, Kerry sees the value in free benefits, such as health and wellbeing days, and signposting benefits to employees so that they feel that they're getting as much back from the organisation as possible. She also stresses the importance of celebrations and awards that recognise individual or team contributions in keeping staff motivated when you can't reward them financially.
"I suppose there have been a lot of changes, but many of them don't feel too dramatic because you evolve with the legislation changes you're presented with at the time. You just go with it!"
Studying at Middlesex
When Kerry started her MA in Human Resource Management at Middlesex, she was already working in her first job in HR. Having campaigned for her employer to send her to Middlesex instead of other schools in west London, Kerry was thrilled to learn that she would leave Middlesex with not only a masters, but also CIPD accreditation.
"Having CIPD accreditation really sets you apart," she says. "If I had studied elsewhere I might have ended up with a masters degree in HR, but with no CIPD accreditation, so it was fantastic to get it all out of the way at once.
"I've always felt that qualification underpins me. It says to all employers that I took my career seriously, and invested in that qualification early on. It's one of the best things I ever did."
Being nine months into her career in HR when she started her masters at Middlesex, Kerry also enjoyed being able to mix with a diverse group of people from different walks of life who were at different stages in their career.
Looking to the future, Kerry hopes to start focusing more on the aspects of HR that she enjoys. While managing budgets are a necessary part of any HR team, Kerry really enjoys the problem solving aspects of her work and working directly with people.
"The best days are when you work one-to-one with someone and they go away a bit more confident and a bit more resolute. Knowing that you've given someone more confidence and seeing that change in them really makes you feel proud of what you've done."
For more information on the HR and PM reunion, click here. Join in the conversation on social media using the hashtags #MDXalumni #MDXreunion #HRPM65.