Q&A: Lyn Roberts and professional HR certification

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written on December 7, 2015

Lyn Roberts, an HR professional with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, talks about joining AHRI’s professional certification program.

Why did you decide to get involved in the AHRI certification program?

I have been manager, People Services for the Victorian region with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for about nine years, but have been working in the HR field for 25 years.
I don’t have a specific HR qualification. Although I have a lot of experience, I felt there was a missing piece in the puzzle for me. I raised this as part of my career discussion with my supervisor, so when the opportunity came through work to apply for a spot on the AHRI certification program, it was just what I was looking for. The practising certification qualification is a rubber stamp that complements my HR experience and will reinforce employers’ confidence in my capability as an HR professional.

What were your initial impressions of the course?

I travel to the workshops in Canberra and there’s a group of us who have come from all different departments – all in the public sector – but with varying experiences and backgrounds. There are four workshops each semester and between them we have a lot of independent study to complete.

Did you have any anxieties prior to starting the program?

I was a little bit concerned about how I was going to manage the time – particularly not having had the tertiary education experience. A few of us felt the same way. Although I am confident in my practical ability and understanding of HR, connecting the theory and practice was daunting. You doubt whether it is something that you can do. However, the tutor has been very encouraging and said the uncertainty was quite normal. I’ve just completed the first assessment and getting that first assignment under my belt made me feel more confident.

What has been the biggest challenge?

Balancing time between my job and my studies. You want to do well at both and I don’t want either one to suffer. A pass is adequate, but we are all professionals and a pass isn’t quite what we are looking for; we are all aiming for a fairly high standard. Everything I’m reading about now in the HR field is so interesting and I didn’t want to take any short cuts, so work has supported me in taking a couple of study days each semester. I’ve also moved to a nine-day fortnight so that I can bring my best to the program.

Why do you think certification is important for HR?

It centres around feeling confident about the value that the HR profession can bring to the table. We are really important – but now we have to get the business to recognise that and show what value we can add. The environment we are in at the moment is one where everything needs to be done today. But the day-to-day operational stuff is getting in the way of taking on the more strategic roles. It’s very comfortable doing the operational stuff, but we have to separate ourselves out and stay focused to concentrate on the strategy and the bigger picture.

Why hasn’t HR been taken seriously in the past?

I’ve gone through the personnel approach to HR. It was a very practical, transactional environment. I think it’s just been this gradual realisation that HR has a wealth of insight about people and the role of people in organisations has become more and more important. Generally speaking, HR people are very good at understanding why things happen and what is likely to happen from a people perspective if a business chooses a particular course.

What’s your view on the role of analytics in HR practice?

Personally, I like analytics; I like to present what I’m proposing backed up with facts. Although, it has been interesting to see the resistance to HR getting involved in this kind of detail. For example, I had to ask permission from the finance people to get the budget information to support the workforce planning data in order to put together a workforce strategy. Finance was suspicious about why I needed that information. It showed me that it is key to develop relationships and trust and to work out how we can help each other achieve our common goals.

For more information, please visit AHRI’s certification page by clicking here. 

This article is an edited version. The full article was first published in the December/January 2016 issue of HRMonthly magazine as ‘Rubber stamp’. AHRI members receive HRMonthly 11 times per year as part of their membership. Find out more about AHRI membership here

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