HR Career Path: David (32), HR Business Partner

What is your degree in?

Bachelor of Business Studies (Human Resource Management), Masters in Human Resources Management

Why did you do the degree you did?

It was a straight business degree starting off, and in 4th year I had to make a choice to specialise – HR was the one I was best at. I was always interested in business, I always read the business pages of the newspaper.

Do you know much about what a HR career path entailed starting off?

Very little, I knew they dealt a lot with people, but the nooks and crannies of it I didn’t really know.

Did your degree prepare you starting off on your HR career path?

Some of it, a lot of the degree is focused on law, a lot of it is theory, Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs etc. Does it allow you to understand motivation in terms of your workforce? Does it help you to understand employee engagement day to day? I can’t say I’ve ever referred to much of the theory in my daily role.

Did you seek advice from anyone who was already following a HR career path?

I knew someone working in HR, so I talked to them, and researched a little bit about a HR career path. At the time I saw HR as a means to an end, I wasn’t necessarily thinking I was going to stick with a HR career path.

What percentage of what you learned in university do you use in your day to day roles?


Would you advise people to do a postgraduate degree?

At the time, I had no experience and there were no jobs, you needed something to differentiate your CV. I think it would have been much more useful to do the masters now that I’m a few years down my HR career path. My advice would be to make sure you do a degree that has work experience in it – then you have experience before you even leave university.

HR Career Path 2

Looking back now, with the benefit of hindsight, would you do anything differently degree wise?

I would have done something in IT, whether I had the skills or not is another thing! I think IT pays well compared to other careers.

What jobs have you done since graduating? And what have they entailed?

When I finished my degree, I did a masters, as it was the height of the recession and there were no jobs. I went to a big insurance company and asked them could I work for a month for free. After working like a demon for a month, I asked them for another couple of months. I worked for three months for free, then a maternity contract came up and they gave me that role.

2015 – Present

HR Business Partner, Financial Technology Company, Ireland

Employee disputes, employee engagement, workforce planning, helping the business.

2011 – 2015                   

Recruitment Consultant, Multinational Insurance Company, Ireland

Large scale recruitment, filling over 200 roles a year.

2010 – 2011                   

Learning & Development Officer, Multinational Insurance Company

Inductions, exit interviews, planning events, sourcing vendors to do training etc.

Things you most like about your HR career path, and things you don’t like?


  1. Working with people on a daily basis
  2. Helping the business solve problems
  3. Dealing with Senior Execs

Don’t like:

  1. I’m the one who has to say no when the business are trying to do something
  2. Paper pushing, HR is a lot of administration
  3. Telling people they don’t have a job is not easy to do
Which would you prefer to work for – a small company or a big company?

From a HR career path point of view, I would say a small company is better, you can get stuck into everything. I went to a smaller company, and I set up the whole HR desk, wrote the policies etc. However, there are a lot more teething issues in a smaller company.

Have you done long hours following a HR career path?

It’s peaks and troughs, one project where I was hiring a whole new call centre I worked 9 am – 9 pm for three months. Now I leave at 6 pm, and log on in the evenings and take a quick look at my emails.

If you could start over and were 22 again, what would you do differently career-wise?

I probably wouldn’t have stayed in the Insurance Company as long as I did. They were not really concerned about progressing your career, it wasn’t very meritocratic. I should have been strategic a little bit earlier and known my own worth a little bit better.

HR Career Path 3

What tips would you give a young person now?

I’ve never really had joy with Career Guidance Counsellors – I was told to do engineering! Go talk to someone who is already in the role, reach out to someone in HR on Linkedin and they will be happy to tell you what’s involved.

What advice would you give someone who was interested in following a HR Career Path?

The easiest way is to go into recruitment – everything hinges on recruitment, it’s the backbone of every company. If you become a recruitment co-ordinator, you set up interviews, you also build relationships with all the managers in the company.

If you have any questions about a HR career path, or any career questions in general, please get in touch using the contact form, thanks!


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Paul Murphy

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