I have seven years’ experience in HR. I am CIPD qualified, hold a business
degree and am half way through an executive MBA. I am looking to relocate to
Spain next year, and hope to continue in HR. As I don’t speak Spanish, I’m
thinking of doing voluntary work over there for six months prior to applying
for an HR job. Could this approach work against me if I take so much time out?
Also, I thought an MBA would be useful for working towards a board level
position. But Personnel Today’s recent article on MBAs gave me some concerns
and I now wonder if I should invest my funds into learning Spanish instead.
Peter Sell, joint managing director, DMS consultancy
As you are half way through the MBA, it would be a shame to waste the time,
cost and effort by stopping now. An MBA is a very useful qualification for a
career in business or HR. It is also recognised inter-nationally, although
there is more emphasis on where you studied than with other qualifications.
You said you are looking to overcome the language barrier before working in
Spain. This need not be sacrificed for the MBA. The cost of a language course
is far less than the investment in an MBA and will be invaluable in your future
career. With regard to your proposed six months of voluntary work, this is a
good idea. It will give you the opportunity to establish yourself in a new
country and will improve your language skills.
Victoria Wall, managing director, Victoria Wall Associates
You have taken a lot of time to plan your next career move and choice of
country location; this alone shows your commit-ment. It is likely that
potential employers in Spain will be fascinated by your mix of public and
commercial sector HR experi-ence coupled with the UK’s leading profess-ional HR
Taking six months out to do voluntary work will not have a negative affect
on your CV. On the contrary, most companies will see this as a much more
beneficial way of learning Spanish and understanding their culture.
You are correct in thinking that potential employers in Europe may value an
MBA more than employers in the UK. In Spain, it is considered a vital
qualification for senior managers, and is well respected.
I would not be overly concerned about the recent article you refer to. In
Spain, an MBA will enable you to justify how you are able to move into senior
management by truly combining real experience with theory.
I suggest you continue to study your MBA and learn the Spanish language
through the voluntary work route. Good luck.
Philip Spencer, consultant, Macmillan Davies Hodes
Your initial assumption regarding an MBA is correct. It is a well respected
and recog-nised qualification both here in the UK and across Europe, and can
set you apart from other candidates when seeking a new role.
Given you are half way through your MBA, I would certainly suggest you
finish your studies and gain the qualification. Clients are seeking prospective
employees with strong technical HR skills, but also a sound strategic and
commercial awareness. This is where the MBA will supplement your CIPD
qualification and seven years’ experience.
I would suggest you develop your understanding of Spanish prior to
departing. I agree you need to gain exposure to a business environment as
quickly as possible on arrival as business Spanish is very different to
conversational Spanish. Voluntary work is a possible solution and maybe you can
gain some experience in an HR function, as this will expose you to local issues
Take time to study local HR legislation and its interpretation. This may
mean embarking on a short-term course, and I am sure the CIPD will be able to
provide you with information regarding such courses.
An alternative is to directly approach UK organisations with a presence in
Spain. You have nothing to lose and such organisations may consider offering
you a role.