When you’ve reached the top of the tree, professionally speaking, why bother with HR certification? We spoke with some of the most senior professionals and got their answers.
Greg Ure FCPHR, CEO of Caronlab Australia
Greg Ure has been a CEO at Caronlab Australia, the country’s largest manufacturer of hair removal products for the professional beauty market, for more than 14 years.
Ure’s business education and development has always leaned towards HR and as such, AHRI membership has been, for him, a prerequisite.
“People are the main factor that makes a business work. You can’t do it on your own, so if you have good people practices in place then you can manage better. I also believe that HR certainly needs to have a place in boardrooms, too.”
Many people might look at Ure and think, you’ve reached CEO status, why bother doing HR certification? But Ure thinks they are missing an important point.
“I’ve always liked the idea of having some type of objective measure related to membership status in AHRI,” he says. “There are a lot of people working in HR who call themselves practitioners without any real training. The AHRI Practising Certification Program (APC) gives qualified practitioners a quick and easy way to assure colleagues or potential employers that they are knowledgeable and appropriately skilled to manage the HR requirements of the organisation.”
Ure followed the Senior Leaders Pathway to certification, and presented a business case study retrospectively. “The case study had a wide impact on the whole sales team, using training and recruitment techniques and skills analysis to achieve an international quality assurance certification.”
Frequently, HR demonstrates how it contributes indirectly to the success of a business, for example, through retention and employee engagement. But Ure’s case study sought to show how HR can also contribute directly to the bottom line.
“The case study focused on the implementation of a quality system within the company, covering good practice in the manufacturing of cosmetics, which has helped the business grow its export market.”
Ure has high praise for the support that he got from AHRI.
“The certification team provided a clear pathway with excellent guidance notes and templates to complete the case study. They clearly communicated the case study requirements and were always available for direction if questions arose, while maintaining a robust and rigorous assessment methodology.”
Like many fellow certified HR professionals, Ure sees certification as a personal responsibility and that there are legacy issues at stake. “For the profession as a whole, certification brings a new level of credibility.
“There is an objective measure for now and in the future that can assure the business community that Certified HR Practitioners (CPHR) maintain high standards of skills and knowledge in the HR field.”
(Find the best certification pathway for you and start your certification journey today.)
Trevor Heldt CPHR, HR Director, CSIRO
After seven years as HR director at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Trevor Heldt is well aware of what a special organisation it is and how that creates pressures and opportunities for the HR team.
“The calibre of our workforce is amazing,” he says. “We have more than 1500 PhD researchers, scientists and excellent support staff. We’re working with a very smart bunch of people right across the business.
“It’s a challenging place to do HR because you have to be very clear and mindful about what you are doing and confident it will make things measurably better.”
That’s one reason why Canberra-based Heldt took the Senior Leaders Pathway to achieve AHRI certification, and 20 of the 120 people in his HR team are in a pilot cohort to gain certification via the normal four-unit process and via Recognition of Prior Learning.
“It’s important for everyone in the business to know that the people sitting beside them are professionals and the peak professional body [AHRI] regards them as having that status,” Heldt says. “Because I don’t think just anyone can do HR.
“Employers need to have confidence that the people they are getting aren’t just good with people, or have a bit of experience. Certification means they have attained and practised a high standard of skills and competencies that will improve the business they are working in.”
It’s a two-fold thing, he says. “It’s also about us as individuals, valuing ourselves and standing strong and proud that we have met the industry and global standards for our profession.
“Depending on how the pilot goes, we’ll be putting more people through certification. We have an excellent HR team – a really innovative, agile, outstanding team who do great work.”
Heldt has worked in HR for more than 30 years. Prior to his current role, he held less senior HR roles at the CSIRO for eight years and was HR director at the Independent Commission Against Corruption for five years and the NSW Department of Courts Administration for five years.
Donna Benjamin FCPHR, Founder and manager of Holistic Human Resources consultancy
Donna Benjamin was initially sceptical about AHRI’s certification program.
“With a degree in HR and 20 years of experience, I thought, why do I have to jump through another hoop?” she explains. “But when I looked into it further, this was the way things were moving, and I wanted to be on board.”
Benjamin envisages a time when getting certified with AHRI will be viewed in the same way as CPA and chartered accreditation is viewed within the accountancy profession and beyond.
“Certification sets a standard across the profession, which creates a benefit,” she says. “And personally, it makes me stand out from other industry peers. As a consultant, people are looking to select an expert, and they want to go with someone who is a professional and a trusted advisor.”
Signing up for the Senior Leaders Pathway, Benjamin set out to show how her experience and her selected case study demonstrated the capabilities and behaviours required against AHRI’s model of excellence.
“My case study was around designing and implementing an online induction program for a national business where I was able to show that I had been a solutions-driven strategic architect, an expert practitioner and a culture and change leader.”
Benjamin was pleased that the process was also less costly and time consuming than she had expected.
“There’s definitely a momentum building. While certification is not yet broadly recognised outside of the HR profession, it’s early days. I feel as the awareness of people strategy increases, the role of HR is only going to get bigger and become more important, making it essential for all HR practitioners to adopt professional certification.”
Get ahead in your career with HR certification, the industry standard for HR professionals. Enrol for the AHRI Practising Certification Program today.
Picture is of Trevor Heldt CPHR, HR Director, CSIRO.