Push and pull

An employer's perspective: Rowena Bain CAHRI

A senior HR professional chose to lead by example and complete the APC Program with her team – even though she was already qualified.

Rowena Bain CAHRI works as Assistant Secretary in the Culture and People Development Branch at the Department of Defence.

“We ran an HR business partner round recruitment looking to fill a number of vacancies in middle-management roles. The recruitment process involved an interview and written activity.

“It was really during the interview that the panel noticed a particular depth and level of sophistication in the responses that the candidates who were doing the AHRI Practising Certification Program. The candidates drew links between their own examples (which weren’t always HR examples) and the organisational strategy and business objectives.

“Candidates spoke about the need to provide evidence for making decisions, including the use of metrics to support informed decision making. In particular, they focussed on how HR initiatives should be able to demonstrate public value as well as value to the organisation. Often it is harder for corporate functions to show that what they are doing adds value to Australian citizens. For example, if you are designing a new public policy, it is easy to demonstrate value. However, for HR it is harder – so it is an important point to make during an interview.

“They also had a partnership mindset, talking about providing advice to the wider business and developing outcomes that aligned with business needs, not just the needs of HR.

“As a senior HR professional, candidates who have, or are embarking on the APC Program, show me that they have a commitment to ongoing development and the wider HR profession.

“I started certification in my previous role as head of HR at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. My boss, who also has a HR background, was very supportive of me and others in the branch doing the APC Program. 

“Given my HR experience, I was eligible for Recognition of Prior Learning and could have just done the fourth work-based unit. However, as I was strongly encouraging staff in my branch to get certified, I wanted to do the APC Program face-to-face with them.

“I haven’t encountered resistance from people when I have talked about certification. There are some people who say they want to do it but for whatever reason it’s not the right time in their life, such as they have young kids, are already undertaking other study etc. I haven’t had anyone say ‘I can’t see the value in it’ or ‘I don’t understand what it brings’.

“If there is any reluctance towards the APC Program, it is that, outside of HR, it’s not widely known that this is happening. Everyone knows that accountants are certified. We need to get the message out there about HR certification to build the credibility further for our profession.”

People who complete the APC Program can know that their skills, knowledge and experience are recognised. From an external point of view, people who interact with HR can know that the person has met a standard to verify their skills and role as credible – and certified – HR professionals.