Charlie Haynes has studied BSc, MSc and now PhD at Kent Business School, with a focus on Human Resource Management. Here she explains how the support of her tutors has shaped her path to academia and research.
‘I always knew I wanted to go to a big campus university,’ says Charlie. ‘I am from Norwich and used to smaller city life. Canterbury felt familiar and you’ve got the city alongside beautiful countryside and London right close by.’
Like many 18 year olds, Charlie wasn’t certain of what she wanted to do with her life when she applied for university. She knew she loved business, but which area to go for? Management, she felt, covered them all.
She continues: ‘I always enjoyed studying business. It’s so broad – you can study psychology, there’s sociology, there’s maths. You didn’t have to pigeonhole yourself off to doing just one thing. So doing management I knew I could learn a lot of essential skills.’
As Charlie settled into university life, she noticed she was excited by modules that focused on the human element of business.
‘The modules that were about people and how people work within an organization, whether it’s to do with people’s strategy, resourcing, general human resource management. I really built a good rapport with my lecturers in this area – particularly Dr Sam Evans and Professor Patricia Lewis. They were inspirational and helped me to see business in a new light.’
Charlie opted for a Master’s in Human Resource Management following graduation, after researching the modules and speaking to university staff. She was really impressed by her course.
‘The course was more thorough, and we learned lots of detailed theory. We also had so many visits from industry experts that put the job into context. It was really nice to hear from people actually in the line of work you are studying to be in. I learnt about so many different arms of HRM – from strategy to analytics. It shaped the way I studied, to really understand the end goal.’
Charlie graduated with a First but was encouraged by her tutors to further her studies – with a PhD.
‘Maria, the course leader, called me into her office and said, “have you ever thought about doing a PhD?” I was shocked, but obviously flattered. It was exciting to be highlighted as a student who could carry out research.’
Charlie embarked on her PhD last September with scholarship funding. The focus of her study being hybrid working in the context of the post Covid workplace with spatial theories at the heart of it.
‘It’s not the easiest thing to do, you are entirely on your own and have to manage your own time and have self-motivation. I will be studying for three years. The goal is to optimise hybrid working, as the practice became the norm very quickly and it may not be working properly for everyone.’
Charlie mixes study with work as a student ambassador, sharing her rich university experience in outreach sessions at local secondary schools.
‘I absolutely love the outreach work. That’s possibly it’s really kept me going this year with not having a timetable. It’s so fun, fast-paced and rewarding.’
So how does Charlie feel Kent directed her to academia and inspired her to do something remarkable?
‘To me, the University just offered me a lot of opportunities, but not just the opportunities, the support to take them to the next level.
‘The lecturers just inspired me to want to do my best. I don’t think any of my friends at other universities had this experience and I credit my lecturers fully for leading me into research and hopefully, an exciting future in HR consultancy one day.’
Our CIPD-accredited MSc Human Resource Management course will kickstart your career by exploring HRM practices such as employee relations, employee resourcing, HRM development, HR data and performance management alongside the theory of general management and leadership.