I am a human resources (HR) professional specialising in compensation and benefits. I don't have a formal qualification in HR so I'm interested in doing a course to enhance my career. Some friends suggested that I should gain a qualification from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), become a Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) or take an MBA in HR. I am not sure which of these will be most helpful. Please advise.
Rashna, via email 

The CIPD is Europe's largest professional body for HR development. Membership of this body will definitely enhance your existing knowledge of HR. Membership can be obtained either by acquiring the required qualifications or by virtue of your experience in HR.

HR specialists can further their education by completing a compensation certificate programme. These programmes are available on campus and online through numerous colleges and universities.

CCP specialists are qualified to determine employee compensation packages and benchmark their firm's salaries and benefits, including retirement plans, increments and bonuses. Compensation Certificate Programmes are designed for experienced human resources professionals; thus a bachelor's degree in human resources or a related area is often required for admission. However, some institutions may admit students without undergraduate degrees if they have a strong background in the field.

While studying for an MSc in human resource management or an MBA in human resources you have the option to register yourself with CIPD or CCP and simultaneously complete your accreditation. If you are looking to advance your career, an MBA would be a prudent choice as a postgraduate qualification is preferred for top management positions in the field. 

A relative has just completed her 12th grade in India and wants to pursue an undergraduate programme in medicine and thereafter a research programme in the field of medicine. She has been offered a place for an undergraduate programme in either biology, biomedicine or life sciences at a prestigious Canadian university. What is your advice?
Sabapathy, via email 

Health is one of the fastest growing sectors and universities in Canada offer unparalleled research facilities. There are also many courses that offer co-op programmes, which would provide her with work experience as well. Biomedical sciences would give her an introduction to genetics, biochemistry and research, with exposure to new experimental techniques and approaches. It prepare students for careers in the fields of optometry, medicine, dentistry, bioinformatics, pharmaceutical, research, biostatistics and patent law specialisation in medically related products.

However, she does not have to restrict herself to biomedical sciences to pursue her studies in medicine. All science majors are acceptable as a precursor to studying medicine and medical schools in Canada are open to students with non-biomedical degrees. One major factor to consider when choosing between India and Canada of course is the cost of studying overseas.