'Upgrading helped me to get through lockdown. I could focus on something positive. Now I feel like I'm back in the fold – it is good to feel part of something bigger even if you are a standalone HR consultant.'

Nikki von Bülow, Chartered MCIPD
Independent HR Consultant & Accredited Mediator

Nikki qualified with a Master’s in HR at the LSE, and went on to work with large corporates. She has over 25 years of experience, and currently practices as an independent HR consultant and workplace mediator.

'I originally chose that Master’s because it included qualifying with the CIPD. I wanted to have the professional qualification, to tick all the boxes.'

On upgrading to Chartered Member, she says, 'It’s a status thing, so you’ll be recognised by other HR people. ‘HR Director – Associate Member’ just doesn't sound right.'

Nikki explains, 'I was working in Investment Banking when I first wanted to upgrade, but I was too busy to make time for it. When I began working for myself, I thought upgrading would help my credibility with clients.'

But working as a standalone consultant meant upgrading proved difficult for Nikki, even with her extensive experience. So Nikki put off upgrading for years, until the global pandemic hit.

'When lockdown happened, I wanted to do something positive with the time. So I could look back and feel I’d achieved something.'

Nikki attended the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition where she had the chance to speak with Zoe Ryan, CIPD’s Head of Membership Assessment. Nikki hadn't looked at upgrading for a while, but Zoe told her things had changed.

Our upgrading assessment is now more inclusive of independent consultants, thanks to the Profession Map. Evaluating your impact and work has been made more straightforward, and is more in line with the way people professionals work today.

Nikki discovered that she could simply talk through her professional experience: 'Upgrading by telephone was the best option for me. If you do your preparation, it’s just like an interview. They can probe, and help you to talk about your best projects and examples. I enjoyed it!'

Nikki prepared carefully for her telephone assessment, taking the time to go through the core knowledge, core behaviours and specialist knowledge areas of the Profession Map. She also created her own competency-based questions and answers in advance.

Nikki adds, 'You're always busy interviewing people about their capabilities and competencies, but you don't apply it to yourself. So asking myself those questions, effectively going through all my work experience, helped me to identify and categorise my achievements.'

'It’s increased my self-knowledge, reminded me what I’m actually capable of.'

If you’re considering upgrading, she says you should enjoy the unique opportunity to reflect on yourself. 'Delving through your history is rewarding in itself. It also might open up some doors again, when you rediscover projects that you loved.'

Nikki wholeheartedly recommends upgrading. 'It's a confidence thing,' she says. 'And doing something for yourself, for your own credibility, your own sense of self-worth and professionalism. Also, how you are seen in the industry and by customers.'

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