How to Get a CMI Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Management

Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership With Chartered Institute of Management (CMI)

I have recently completed my Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership with the Chartered Institute of Management (CMI). I will discuss briefly my experiences and why I chose to study the course.

My career has spanned over 20 years and I have had the opportunity to explore different roles, naturally impacting my professionalism and ability. My career began in Retail, progressed into Banking and I now feel settled with Learning and Development. However, I have been particularly interested in developing skills in Leadership, Management and Marketing.

At school, an English Teacher (Mr Brankin) suggested to me that “education is a never-ending process and in life, you always have to learn new things”. I felt inspired by his quote and to this day I clearly remember his words. Without a doubt, he inspired me to develop new knowledge.
In my career, I have held down different Managerial roles. Consequently, the knowledge I acquired gave me the confidence to become an ambassador for Leaders to help them develop their professional behaviour.

The Different Professional Qualifications Available

Before I embarked on the course, I spent much time researching different professional qualifications and how it could impact my career. My vision is to enhance the practice of Leadership globally and it was important for me to make a strategic decision. There are so many courses available.

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The Different Professional Qualifications Available

Career Addict (2018) highlighted that the top 3 management qualifications are:

  1. Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  2. Project Management Professional (PMP)
  3. Chartered Management Institute (CMI) – Level 5

It was a no brainer for me. Financially I was not in a place to fund the MBA. Moreover, I felt the PMP course would not be directly relevant to my vision. Hence, I opted for CMI. However, I previously attained a Level 5 qualification in Management. Consequently, progressing onto the Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership was the right thing to do based on my experience.

When considering a qualification, it is important to understand the course level and the programme. In the UK, the qualifications are between Entry level and Level 8 as highlighted by the Government. A Level 7 qualification is equal to a Master’s degree.

Type of Qualification

The type of qualification would also need to be considered, as there are three options available. They are:

  • Award
  • Certificate
  • Diploma

Is there a difference between them? 100%!

The Award is the smallest. It’s the easiest to do as you focus on a particular topic. Typically, this can take 1-3 months.
The Certificate allows you to explore the subject in-depth. It can take 3-6 months to complete.

The Diploma is the most challenging of the range. It allows you to develop a greater understanding of the subject and develop a specialism. The Diploma takes approx 12 months. Achieving The Diploma can also lead to attaining ‘Chartered Manager’ status. According to CMI, the Chartered Manager is the highest accolade in the management and leadership profession, resulting in an average pay rise of £13K.


Another factor that influenced my choice for choosing the Diploma was that CMI branding is associated with many courses offered by UK Universities. The Successful completion of the CMI Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership course is nationally recognised: all credits earned are transferable to other university or college programmes within a similar discipline (Sussex Business School, 2020).
Was it worth investing in the Diploma?

It was difficult funding the course but it was worth every penny! The course challenged my intelligence and I had to research theorists and make sense of them. Developing knowledge and new skills kept me passionately motivated.
Achieving the Diploma has benefited me in many ways and they are listed below:

Developing Excellence

I developed subject expertise on Strategic Leadership and enhanced my career. Then, I progressed into Lecturing. Consequently, I believe the Diploma demonstrates my commitment and dedication to developing ‘excellence’ in my profession. Focusing on Learning and Development has helped me become competitive in my role and I have received many awards for my contribution.

Developing My Lenses

Combining experience and professional credentials influence people’s perception. By enhancing my skills and credibility, I transited into new areas and created opportunities. For example, I have travelled to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mauritius and Morocco sharing my experiences and inspiring aspiring Leaders.

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Developing My Lenses

I became a Regional Board Member with CMI. Achieving the Diploma gave me the confidence to look ‘outside the box’ and striving for greater success.

I have also achieved 5 Fellowships with the UK’s leading Professional Bodies. They are:

  • Chartered Management Institute (CIM)
  • The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)
  • Advance HE (HEA)
  • Institute of Consulting (IC)
  • The Learning and Performance Institute (LPI)

This is a unique achievement on my part. Therefore, I can confidently state the success I achieved has outweighed the investment I made (paying for the course).

Developing Personal Branding

The learning experience helped me work with like-minded professionals in a classroom environment and explore challenging situations in a safe environment. Reflecting on each experience and listening to other people’s views and working through projects collectively changed my feelings about my behaviour. There were plenty of opportunities for self-reflection and asking myself “what can I do differently to add value to my team”.
I was also able to explore emotional intelligence on a deeper level appreciating my strengths and weaknesses.

An article published by Dr Travis (2019) on Linkedin shows interesting analysis on job role and the level of emotional intelligence. The research suggests that Senior Management have the lowest emotional intelligence score. What this means is that Leaders spend less time in meaningful interactions with their staff and lose sight of how their emotional states affect those around them.

I have also grown my network at work and on Linkedin. I have been approached by many professionals asking me to reflect on my learning experience. From interactions with my colleague, I am aware that people can be fearful of studying and working. Reflecting on my learning journey and encouraging people to learn something new. I am referred to as ‘Brand Jay’ because of my inspiring behaviour.

Grow Your Mind

My commitment and passion helped me complete the Diploma in 7 months and I was able to improve my academic writing skills and it has given me the confidence to progress on to the Level 8 course (the equivalent of a Doctorate) in Strategic Direction and Leadership.

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Grow your mind using learning and development skills

The Journey Continues…

And if you are worried that doing a Postgraduate course would change your life for worse, think again. Without a doubt, my life has changed for the better. Many institutions offer the opportunity to study the course online.

Are you up for a challenge? What are you waiting for?

The Learning and Development function of every organisation has a responsibility to develop its staff at the highest level to promote engagement, competitiveness and sustainability. There are emerging trends affecting learning and development. Do you know what they are?

High-Speed Learning (2019) Highlighted Key Trends That Cannot Be Ignored:

  1. The rapid growth in technology has changed the way we do business in many ways. Such as remote working. A business that promotes a positive learning culture inspires the wider team to contribute to decision making confidently and making more and more money in the long-term.
  2. The common belief is that staff training is expensive and some companies struggle to justify the training budget. However, training can take on-site and online, allowing businesses to cut their spending on training.
  3. Recruiting the right employees is important. However, if the organisation fails to invest in its staff and develop them, there is the risk that they could leave their job.
  4. Reflecting on the 70:20:10 learning model is valuable in maximising learning opportunities. Research suggests that 70% of the knowledge is developed through experience. 20% of knowledge is acquired through networking (working with others) and 10% of the knowledge is gained from training and courses.
  5. Technology has made learning accessible at your own pace, such as online learning has increased over the last 3 years. Investing in structured training through digital software would benefit staff at all levels.

Do I Have Your Attention? Are You Feeling Motivated?

If you chose to study on a Diploma, firstly I would like to congratulate you for taking the initiative. And there is always the scope to get your boss to sign off your training invoice. With creativity, structure and research you could get it signed off.
The trick is to present the learning opportunity as a business case.

Most courses have a planned start date and an end date. Do your homework and look at various options, and consider how learning new skills would affect the business. For example, is it likely to boost your confidence to take on an additional role, enhance your emotional intelligence to help you develop better relationships or commit your career to the business?

Hand drawing a story board on paper
Do your homework and look at various options, and consider how learning new skills would affect the business

Timing also plays a part in how people are influenced. Book a meeting in advance with your manager and prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ to grab their attention. If the manager is under budget pressure, be realistic with your expectations.

Below are, a list of common questions I get asked and my answers are to provide encouragement. For greater clarity, please do your research.


Who Is CMI?

CMI is the Chartered Management Institute. Their mandate is to create better led and managed organisations. Their services are used by 100,000 managers and 450 employers (CMI, 2020).

What Is a Level 7 Certificate?

A Level 7 certificate is in the middle between an Award and a Diploma. The Certificate would help you develop a good level of subject awareness.

Is CMI a Recognised Qualification?

CMI qualifications are recognised and they sit in the top 3 of management qualifications.

Which Is Better ILM or CMI?

I have studied with ILM and CMI. I cannot state which is better, however, I prefer CMI because of the opportunity you would have to achieve a Chartered Manager status.

Is It Worth Becoming a Chartered Manager?

Absolutely. The status promotes ‘excellence’ and your salary could be improved by £13000. If you ask me that is a good return on investment.

Is a Level 7 Equivalent to a Degree?

No. Level 7 is equal to a Postgraduate.

What Is the Level 8 Qualification?

Level 8 qualification is the equivalent of a Doctorate.

How Much Is the Level 7 Diploma?

The course fees vary depending on your learning preference. However, the online option is cheaper in comparison to classroom learning. Some institutions offer the option to spread the payment.

How Long Does It Take to Complete the Diploma?

The suggested time frame is 12 months.

Can I Progress Onto Other Courses?

The Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership is a recognised qualification. You could progress onto an MBA or a Masters course depending on the Universities entry requirements. You can also progress onto the Level 8 course in Strategic Direction and Leadership depending on skills and experiences.

How Learning Has Evolved?

How you learn is a personal choice. There is a great emphasis on blended learning, studying online and in classrooms.

What Is the Importance of L&D?

Learning and development will help you develop new skills. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have adopted working from home and with training and guidance, they have learned to adjust.

Why Learning and Development Is a Strategic Function?

The business environment has become far more competitive with the introduction of digital transformation. Furthermore, without investment in the learning and development of staff, companies will lose sight of the future.

What Jobs Are There in Learning and Development?

I have had many roles in my learning and development career. There are 9 that comes to mind and I have enjoyed each role passionately.

  • Module Leader
  • Lecturer
  • Tutor
  • Trainer
  • Skills Coach
  • Project Lead
  • Learning and Development Consultant
  • Leadership Consultant
  • Marketing Consultant

What Is an L&D Plan?

A learning and development plan is a road map. The road map helps to show the strengths, weaknesses and development opportunities.

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