Want to impress your boss? Advance your career? All of the above, and more? This budding HR pro reveals her reasons for getting certified.
Samantha Robertson has been working in HR since she graduated from Sydney University in 2012. Robertson currently works in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and is one of the first to become HR certified through the 18-month AHRI Practising Certification Program (APC). She discusses her career thus far, her reasons for joining the program and her experience to date.
What were your reasons for becoming certified?
Two years ago I participated in a debate at an AHRI networking forum where the topic was: Anyone can do HR. I was arguing on the negative side. That view frustrated me and I felt that HR was getting lost in the fluff of organisations. Financial services professionals must get certified, so why not HR? I thought it would really strengthen HR’s role in the public sector and more generally. And ask the question: How can we as HR professionals align ourselves with business objectives. So when I read about Tanya Hammond’s work and research into the professionalisation of HR and heard about the pilot program, I wanted to be part of it.
What do you hope to get out of the certification program?
I want to be more critical and solutions-driven in the way I approach my work. Having already worked in strategic workforce planning, I have learnt to become more future oriented and remind myself of the bigger purpose of what I’m doing, what the department is doing and where we all fit into that. But I think the program will enable me to look at ways to solve problems rather than just getting caught up in the operational side.
I also want to develop my influencing skills. Sometimes I can get caught up with other people’s ideas so I want to be more active in challenging those and applying critical thinking. In public service it can be very hierarchical and risk-averse, so I hope everyone doing the APC program will be more equipped to bring new ideas that challenge the status quo and provide good evidence on what works and what doesn’t.
What has the course been like so far?
The important thing is the APC course incorporates into my normal work so I can apply the learning as I go. We have a few work-based assignments where we work on something that can be implemented in our normal jobs and we can see what limitations there are, if any.
To date we have had one workshop with around 15 of us. The instructor has worked in the public and private sector and it’s good that he has that broad perspective because people who have only worked in the public sector their whole career may be more limited in their views. We looked at the competencies required by HR professionals today, in particular AHRI’s model of excellence and the different behaviours that HR practitioners need to understand in themselves and in others. Taking that, we applied it to our different roles and the particular challenges we face.
Any unexpected benefits?
People were keen to go back and talk about the ideas that came out of the program with their bosses and that’s good because it shows senior management that what we are learning can contribute to what they are doing in our departments. When I talked with my supervisor about our current human resources strategy, he then immediately involved me more directly in what we were doing.
We have to keep a learning journal and I can see already how useful that is for reflecting and my critical thinking. I keep a written list of action items that I want to follow through.
To learn more about certification and how you can raise the bar for HR, click here.
This article is an edited version. The full article was first published in the October 2015 issue of HRMonthly magazine as ‘A vision thing’. AHRI members receive HRMonthly 11 times per year as part of their membership. Find out more about AHRI membership here.