Author: Deborah Bishop, HRM Lecturer 

We at UWE Bristol Business School are very proud and excited as one of our recent MSc HRM students, Cindy Fernandez, has been announced as a finalist in this year’s CIPD People Management Awards in the Outstanding Student category!

To be shortlisted, Cindy had to do some research for her MSc in International HRM that demonstrated how her studies have enabled an organisation to initiate and implement business improvements. Cindy was lucky enough to do her research placement with the employee-owned architecture and planning practice Stride Treglown.

In consultation with her host organisation, Cindy looked at designing and implementing a new employee engagement survey. I asked Elizabeth Kavanagh, Head of HR at Stride Treglown, what she thought the key benefits of Cindy’s work had been for their organisation. She explained that they had tried a number of off-the-shelf tools to measure employee engagement, but felt that these tools had not adequately tapped into the culture of Stride Treglown: “As a collective of highly qualified and creative individuals, the language of the survey needed to represent how we operate here” explained Elizabeth.

Cindy therefore approached the CIPD about using their employee engagement survey and the CIPD were very happy to share, allowing Cindy to take that as her starting point. Where Cindy added value was in tailoring that tool for the specific employee base she worked with at Stride Treglown. Cindy also conducted interviews with employees to establish how they felt about their organisation and its HR practices. This added to the survey data and led to Stride Treglown giving consideration to their feedback strategy as part of their efforts to keep improving engagement levels.

Elizabeth said: “We have regularly invited your students to conduct research in our organisation to further our HR strategy and keep developing our own practices. This has been invaluable in providing us with insights from an independent source with up to date ideas. Research projects have included our Performance Management Progress, Progression and Organisation Structure all of which have been very “applied” projects from which we all agree we wish to use the results. Cindy deserves recognition for the work that she did for us which will be used year after year as the foundation of our approach to measuring employee engagement. This approach is also going to be used by our alliance partners Todd Architects so Cindy’s work is not going to waste!

Stride Treglown are important partners for us at UWE Bristol Business School, having hosted an MSc HRM student from us for the past six years. Last year they were so pleased with the work of Sean Peacock, who re-examined their Performance Management approach that they offered him a job there. It is fantastic to see their support for our students paying off again this year, when really useful work is delivered to them. As well as representing her own hard work and serious ability, Cindy’s place as a finalist in this award also highlights the importance of collaboration between the CIPD, us at Bristol Business School and organisations like Stride Treglown.

Well done Cindy! We will be keeping everything crossed for the Awards Ceremony on 27th September! Getting shortlisted is a fantastic achievement and everyone teaching HR at UWE Bristol Business School is cheering you on! !..and if you need a plus one, I’m never averse to getting glammed up for a black-tie event…

Cindy and Stride Treglown also helped us with this video about all our MSc HRM courses at the UWE Bristol Business School.