Case study

Ros Hendren MSc FCIPP, Consultant

Why did you decide to study the MSc?

I had just received my Diploma in Payroll Management (as it used to be back in 1997), when the institute was advertising the MSc in Business and Payroll Management for the first time ever. Having enjoyed being able to expand my knowledge and skills over the previous 2 years, and therefore really add value to my organisation, I was keen to continue my studies. I remember thinking that choosing to study for the MSc would potentially change my life, as the strategic challenge of the additional learning I wanted to embark on, would push me completely out of my comfort zone.

What have you gained from studying the qualification?

Having had chance over the last fifteen years to reflect on achieving the MSc, I think it is fair to say that my personal gains have been numerous; promotion, recognition, confidence, engagement, motivation and satisfaction among others. Having achieved the MSc makes a really bold statement to your stakeholders about your commitment to the profession, and your drive and motivation to make a difference. Essentially it sets you apart as an industry leader.

From a more technical perspective, the MSc prepared me for strategic management, by building the skills and capabilities to be able to take a more holistic and commercial view of organisational operations, and the impact that legislation and best practise has on that function. As such it gave me the potential to become recognised as an industry expert, by taking what I had learned, applying it in context to my profession, and sharing my findings with others in my industry through public speaking, trade press articles, student tutoring, writing study material for higher education formal learning, and participation in industry and government forums. I see this as the leap from operational to strategic.

How is it helping in your career and how you manage payroll?

Being able to take that leap from operational to strategic means that you acquire the ability to be able to take a different view of the payroll function and how it is managed. Rather than it just being about legislation and compliance, you are able to satisfy your stakeholders through the ability to consider the bigger picture in terms of supporting your organisation’s objectives. Cost effectiveness, efficiency, best practise, and forward strategic thinking are all activities that the MSc in Business and Reward Management prepares you for. This means that you potentially create the atmosphere to not only deliver a world class service to your organisation, but that you inspire others around you to lift their game also, through showing them what’s possible.

For someone who is thinking about studying for a CIPP qualification what would your advice be to them?

Achieving industry qualifications is about providing evidence that you are committed to your profession through the acceptance of CPD and lifelong learning, and that you have acquired the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to be able to ensure your organisation is compliant, and operating as efficient and effectively as possible through adoption of best practice.

As a manager, I always request CIPP qualifications when shortlisting candidates for interview, as this provides a suitable benchmark, of a candidate’s skill set and self-motivation. Being a tutor for CIPP, I am confident that anyone who has achieved a CIPP qualification has proved their commitment, knowledge and abilities.

Studying a qualification alongside a full time job is no easy feat. How do you cope with the pressure as, like a qualification, payroll is very deadline driven?

I can’t deny that this is the hardest part of higher education vocational study through distance learning. There were times when my friends and family were all out enjoying themselves, trying to persuade me to join them and drop my studies, and I was very sorely tempted. However, if you want something badly enough you find the strength from somewhere, to carry on and achieve your goal. I really wanted to have a career rather than a job, and so I focussed on what that would look like; how I would feel having my career and what type of opportunities would present themselves to me. What I can tell you is that never in my wildest dreams did I envisage the scope of opportunity that has opened itself up to me since achieving my qualifications!

How important would you rate qualifications to the payroll profession?

Payroll is a very complex industry as best practice and particularly legislation, change continually. The skills and abilities acquired through the CIPP qualifications equip industry professionals with the tools to be able to keep up with that continual change, and in some cases even perhaps forecast it. Through the act of maintaining our CPD, logging and reflecting on it, we are able to continue to provide the world class service I spoke about earlier, not only to our industry, but also to our organisations and their employees. Remember, by ensuring we pay ‘accurately and on time’, we help maintain the motivation of our workforce to come to work and do their job; no mean feat!