What it means to win at the AHRI awards


The 2016 AHRI Awards brought together the HR profession’s best to celebrate the hard work and dedication of practitioners everywhere. Held on December 1, the ceremony took place along Melbourne’s beautiful Dockland’s waterfront, a perfect backdrop to herald the stars of HR.

Jessica Kaaden CPHR, HR Manager, Victorian Public Sector Commission was a standout; the only winner of two awards, she walked away with the Dave Ulrich Rising Star Award and the Ram Charan AHRI Practising Certification Award; the latter award recognises the best performing certified graduate of the AHRI Practising Certification Program (APC).

What is it like to be a double winner at the AHRI Awards?

Winning one award at the AHRI awards would have been incredible, but winning two was beyond belief. It was such an honour to be recognised on one hand for my academic achievements, and on the other hand for my workplace accomplishments. I was overwhelmed not only by the recognition but by the number of people who approached me afterwards to offer their congratulations. It made me very happy and proud to be part of the AHRI community. 

What do you think led to winning the HR Rising Star Award?

I think the strong foundation in HR I gained through the Victorian Public Service Graduate Recruitment and Development Scheme and the

AHRI Practising Certification Program which expanded my HR knowledge and gave me an understanding of the strategic role of HR in an organisation’s success. Another factor is the Victorian Public Sector Commission’s (VPSC) support of my development. In particular, the mentoring I received from VPSC executives accelerated my understanding of how to drive change within an organisation. Finally, the passion I feel for HR and our ability to affect change for the better.

How do you keep the momentum going?

That is a tough question, particularly as I am currently on maternity leave. I hope to use my leave time to research and read about innovative fields of HR and then bring some of this understanding back into the workplace when I return in the first half of 2017. 

I think my success thus far has been due to my own personal credibility and brand, and my drive for self-improvement. I hope these attributes will help me in maintaining momentum in my career.

My next step will be to gain a depth of experience in a dedicated HR business partner role within a high-performing team in a middle to large organisation. This will allow me to consolidate my emerging skills.

The Ram Charan award was a bit of a surprise. What was that like to receive? What do you plan to do with the award money?

It was certainly a surprise! I thoroughly enjoyed my learning experience and would recommend the program to others at all stages of their careers. It enabled me to ‘step up’ as an HR professional. I undertook the capstone unit while in my second and third trimester of pregnancy, and I found it very challenging to juggle the demands of work and study with the tiredness that comes with pregnancy. It took a lot of hard work and support from my husband to keep going. So I am particularly appreciative that it was recognised. 

As to spending the money, I’m not sure. Further study is an option. Perhaps I can fuel my love of books guilt-free for a while? I find reading to be therapeutic and it broadens my thinking in HR but also more generally.

Why do you think events like the AHRI Awards are important?

I think it is so important that those of us in HR take the time to come together as a community and to celebrate achievements. It really fosters a community spirit and makes us feel like we’re connected. It is also fantastic to hear about what others are doing in the industry and what we can aspire to.

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What it means to win at the AHRI awards


The 2016 AHRI Awards brought together the HR profession’s best to celebrate the hard work and dedication of practitioners everywhere. Held on December 1, the ceremony took place along Melbourne’s beautiful Dockland’s waterfront, a perfect backdrop to herald the stars of HR.

Jessica Kaaden CPHR, HR Manager, Victorian Public Sector Commission was a standout; the only winner of two awards, she walked away with the Dave Ulrich Rising Star Award and the Ram Charan AHRI Practising Certification Award; the latter award recognises the best performing certified graduate of the AHRI Practising Certification Program (APC).

What is it like to be a double winner at the AHRI Awards?

Winning one award at the AHRI awards would have been incredible, but winning two was beyond belief. It was such an honour to be recognised on one hand for my academic achievements, and on the other hand for my workplace accomplishments. I was overwhelmed not only by the recognition but by the number of people who approached me afterwards to offer their congratulations. It made me very happy and proud to be part of the AHRI community. 

What do you think led to winning the HR Rising Star Award?

I think the strong foundation in HR I gained through the Victorian Public Service Graduate Recruitment and Development Scheme and the

AHRI Practising Certification Program which expanded my HR knowledge and gave me an understanding of the strategic role of HR in an organisation’s success. Another factor is the Victorian Public Sector Commission’s (VPSC) support of my development. In particular, the mentoring I received from VPSC executives accelerated my understanding of how to drive change within an organisation. Finally, the passion I feel for HR and our ability to affect change for the better.

How do you keep the momentum going?

That is a tough question, particularly as I am currently on maternity leave. I hope to use my leave time to research and read about innovative fields of HR and then bring some of this understanding back into the workplace when I return in the first half of 2017. 

I think my success thus far has been due to my own personal credibility and brand, and my drive for self-improvement. I hope these attributes will help me in maintaining momentum in my career.

My next step will be to gain a depth of experience in a dedicated HR business partner role within a high-performing team in a middle to large organisation. This will allow me to consolidate my emerging skills.

The Ram Charan award was a bit of a surprise. What was that like to receive? What do you plan to do with the award money?

It was certainly a surprise! I thoroughly enjoyed my learning experience and would recommend the program to others at all stages of their careers. It enabled me to ‘step up’ as an HR professional. I undertook the capstone unit while in my second and third trimester of pregnancy, and I found it very challenging to juggle the demands of work and study with the tiredness that comes with pregnancy. It took a lot of hard work and support from my husband to keep going. So I am particularly appreciative that it was recognised. 

As to spending the money, I’m not sure. Further study is an option. Perhaps I can fuel my love of books guilt-free for a while? I find reading to be therapeutic and it broadens my thinking in HR but also more generally.

Why do you think events like the AHRI Awards are important?

I think it is so important that those of us in HR take the time to come together as a community and to celebrate achievements. It really fosters a community spirit and makes us feel like we’re connected. It is also fantastic to hear about what others are doing in the industry and what we can aspire to.

Leave a reply

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