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Caroline Biddle

Caroline BiddleDirector of HR, Walsingham

PGDiP Personnel Management, LLM Employment Law

What made you choose Middlesex University?

When choosing a university to study for my PGDip, I opted for Middlesex University as it was a CIPD Centre of Excellence and had an excellent reputation as a Business School.

My experience with Middlesex was really positive so when I then decided to take on a Masters level qualification, it was a natural choice for me to study there again.

What attracted you to your course and made you apply? 

The PGDip attracted me because I wanted to be professionally qualified in my field so I was looking for a CIPD recognised course. The fact that Middlesex was a Centre of Excellence was a big attraction for me and the other area that swung it for me was the content and structure of the course.

When I decided to take on a Masters level qualification I knew I wanted to return to Middlesex and study Employment Law. The fact that David Lewis was the course leader also attracted me to the course as his books were required reading on my PGDip so I was already aware of his in-depth knowledge and style of teaching.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

When I first commenced study I had already been working in the field of HR, so one aspect I particularly enjoyed was linking the theory with the practice and really understanding the key aspects of HR.

When studying Employment Law, I was really motivated by the mental challenge. It really is a challenging course!

What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?

I think it would be the people – both those on the course and those teaching me. I felt a real sense of community and support when studying both my courses. There was also a real understanding from the lecturers about how challenging it could be for those of us working full time and studying simultaneously.

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?

Go for it! And once you're there make sure you take full advantage of the experienced academic team. Every one of my lecturers was always there to give support when I needed it and to guide and advise me during the hard times.

How did your course and time at Middlesex help you to get where you are professionally today?

I think it gave me the confidence to see myself as a specialist and belief in how important good HR is to the overall success of an organisation. I think it also made me certain I wanted to specialise in HR and perhaps cemented my commitment to achieving my personal ambitions within the field.

What made you choose the industry you work in and what are its pros and cons?

The Social Care sector is an incredibly hard industry to work in but at the same time is very rewarding. How many of us can say that what we do really can change lives?

Without sounding too idealistic, I always wanted to have a job where I felt I could actually affect positive change in some way and not just make myself or someone else money.

Walsingham, the organisation I work for, supports people with a variety of disabilities including learning disabilities, brain acquired injury and autistic spectrum disorders. It is an organisation that believes in personalising the support given to each individual and HR is key in this as we need to match crucial skills and values to the personal plans of the people being supported.

The altruistic approach, value base and the changes that can be made to people's lives are big pros. The cons would be the sector's severe under-funding and the fact that the massively important work carried out by our support workers every day is not properly valued by society in the way that it should be.

How did you get your foot on the career ladder post university?

I was already working within HR when I took my PGDip but was at a point where I knew I wanted a change in my role and career path.

I actually first got to know Walsingham, my current organisation, through networking opportunities available as a result of my course. A few months after finishing I saw they had placed an advert for an HR Manager in People Management magazine. My application was successful and I have thoroughly enjoyed working here ever since.

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

I would say becoming the Director of HR at Walsingham. As an organisation that is devoted to supporting people, it really values HR and understands the key role it plays in helping an organisation achieve its aims and strategies. As a result, I get to be involved in and influence key areas of the business and its strategies.

What does the future hold for you?

The social care field is an ever-changing landscape so there are always new challenges in my role which I really enjoy. I am also passionate about the work Walsingham does so I certainly see myself as a key driver it in its organisational development in the near future.

What are the top three career tips you would give to current students and recent graduates?

Take every opportunity to learn as much as you can from your course and from the experiences of those around you.

If you're just embarking on your career, take on a role that will provide you with knowledge and experience across all HR functions. This will prove an essential foundation for all your future roles.

Be prepared to work hard as HR is not for anyone looking for a non-challenging 9 to 5!

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