How certification makes better HR professionals

Rose Clements was one of the first members of the UK's CIPD to achieve certified practitioner status in Australia. She talks about certification in both countries.
Amanda Woodard

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written on June 8, 2016

Rose Clements (FCPHR) was one of the first members of the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel Development to achieve certified practitioner status in Australia. Here, she talks about certification in both countries.

Clements has more reason than most to be pleased that AHRI is spearheading the drive towards certified accreditation in the HR profession.

“I have a keen interest in evangelising for the HR profession,” says Clements of Rose Clements Consulting, who is a member of the National President’s Forum for AHRI and has worked in HR in the UK, where certification was achieved a lot earlier than in Australia.

“Working in HR, there is a phrase used that says: ‘You can’t pretend to care, you have to care.’ Pursuing certified practitioner status is evidence that we don’t just pretend to be HR professionals, we genuinely are. It’s about closing the gap between rhetoric and realism, being responsible for upholding and contributing to a standard of excellence that distinguishes us from those who would seek to attach themselves to the profession and ultimately dilute the worth of the profession to our key stakeholders.”

High professional standards in HR were not much in evidence when Clements first moved to Australia in 1996, however. She was surprised, to say the least, to find that the rigorous process of certification of HR, that had been set by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) in the UK, didn’t exist in Australia.

The CIPD’s origins date back more than 100 years. In 2000, it received the prestigious Royal Charter, which enshrines the regulations, professional code of conduct and standards of professional behaviour that organisation members must commit to. “You can’t easily get a job in HR in the UK unless you have a qualification with the CIPD. It’s the currency for excellence,” says Clements.

“As soon as I heard that AHRI was pursuing certified accreditation, I was delighted. But one of my first questions as someone with 13 years’ experience was, what would I need to do to achieve that certified practitioner status in Australia – and also how could I show my support for the initiative?”

The path to certification

In Clements’ case, and for those like her who have the MCIPD qualification, achieving that status has been straightforward due to the reciprocal membership agreement signed by AHRI and the CIPD in 2013. CIPD members are automatically upgraded to be an AHRI Certified Practitioner after proving their membership status in the UK, along with a completed membership application form.

A firm believer in the important role and responsibility that HR has to business, Clements says she never set out to have a career in HR, which is all the more remarkable considering that in 2012 she was named Australian HR Director of the Year and received the prestigious David Ulrich HR Leader of the Year award.

After doing a social sciences degree in New Zealand, she moved to the UK with her husband. Unable to find a job in social sciences, she ended up doing analytical modelling and futuristic programming at market research firm, AC Nielsen.

But when she was seconded to work on a project in Nielsen’s HR department, she knew instantly that this was where she wanted to be. “So I put a proposition to the head of HR to invest in my professional development, to which I would bring an already deep understanding of the business – and it worked!”

After her move to Perth in 1997, Clements sought out AHRI, but says it was an embryonic, networking organisation. It was only after arriving in Sydney in 2002 that she began to get involved in AHRI events. “I found that the association had evolved into a more professional organisation.” Since then, Clements hasn’t looked back, and remains a keen advocate of professional development.

“Too many HR professionals pride themselves on developing the shiniest people processes, but they lose sight of whether they are having impact on growth and the bottom line. HR has to see themselves as business leaders who happen to specialise in HR. They have to understand the aims and objectives of the organisation they are a part. That’s the only way that HR is going to remain relevant, keep its value and practise its expertise.”

There are three pathways towards becoming a certified HR practitioner. Visit the website to read more about the eligibility criteria for each of the pathways.

This article is an edited version. The original version appeared in the June 2016 issue of HRMonthly magazine as “Rhetoric to reality.” AHRI members receive HRMonthly magazine 11 times a year. To learn more about membership options, click here

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