Please tell us about yourself

Meera Shah currently works as a Reward Consultant at Royal Bank of Scotland. She graduated with a Psychology (BSc) degree in 2011 followed by a Master’s in Occupational Psychology from University of Manchester.

“The overall course changed the way I think. I developed important skills through teamworking exercises, presentations etc,” Meera says.

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“My degree gave me the opportunity to study occupational psychology in my final year, which made me realise that was what I was interested in.

“I also liked the breadth of knowledge I received; I still draw on concepts from various parts of psychology within my role.”

Meera also joined the Manchester Leadership Programme during her course, which she says was “really good”.

“It broadened my thinking and moved me away from the psychology focus.”

How did you end up in an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career such as Occupational Psychology?

Meera undertook a master’s in occupational psychology after graduating from Manchester, during which she worked within the HR department at the University of Sheffield, in the Employee Relations team.”This gave me insight into putting all the theory for my master’s into practice and also how HR operates,” she says.

“Our department mentioned that this role was available for students, so I applied, had two interviews (panel and one-to-one) and a work sample session before securing the role.”

She then moved to Cambridge for four months where she interned at a HR consultancy firm, Organisational Effectiveness Cambridge.

What was your career path after Master’s?

Meera secured a job as a HR Assistant at Lombard Odier, a private Swiss bank, where she worked until she started the HR Graduate Scheme at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in September 2013.

She then secured a permanent role at RBS’s Reward department after completing the graduate scheme. Meera currently manages the team’s market data analysis project, as well as being responsible for bonus modelling, reviewing regulatory changes and how it affects internal reward policies, and designing tailor-made reward solutions for our back office functions.

How was your occupational psychology degree helped?

Meera says that her psychology degree has made a big contribution to the way she works.

“My ability to critically analyse work and not take things at face value has proven really useful in enabling me to challenge current business practices and use my initiative to come up with something new or simply improve upon practices,” she explains.

Advice to students?

Meera says that anyone looking to go into a HR career should do plenty of research to find out what it entails, as the work involves more than simply drafting contracts and policies.

“There is so much more to the field and a lot of scope to use psychology. Speak to people in HR – every organisation will have an HR department. Speaking to people will give you a flavour of HR and a personal perspective,” she explains.

Meera also recommends getting involved in extracurricular activities and opportunities on the course to build communication, team working and leadership skills, as well as gaining business work experience.

“The experience does not have to be HR-related; it is just important to get a flavour of how businesses work and just develop that confidence in the working world,” she says.

“Don’t go crazy, but generally, the greater the breadth of experience you have, the more well-rounded you will be.”

She adds: “In terms of skills and experience, there is no specific set of skills/experience you need – you can enter HR from pretty much any background.

“The basic skills you need, which probably apply to all jobs, are things like general people skills (being able to communicate effectively), the ability to network, showing initiative (challenging the norm) and the ability to adapt.

“You will interact with so many different types of people at different levels in the business, so it is important you know how to interact with them and have confidence in doing so.”