Centre stage

Jess Lang CPHR, HR Business Partner, Department of Defence

The satisfaction of having just completed her APC Program study is palpable. Jess Lang reflects now on the value it has already added to her career.

Jess Lang CPHR, based in Canberra, ACT, recently secured a job with Department of Defence as a HR Business Partner. Jess has completed the AHRI Practising Certification (APC) Program in Canberra. She speaks about how the APC Program, particularly her work on the final capstone project, has helped to advance her HR career.

“I am so pleased to  have just completed my final assessments for the APC Program! It’s been a challenging two years but very satisfying as well.

“My reasons for doing the course were because I wanted to build my strategic HR capability and boost my confidence – and it’s fair to say that the program has really helped me in both ways. 

“I’d been in generalist HR roles previously and although I wanted to undertake more study, I didn’t want to commit to full-time university education. So, this two-year, part-time course was perfect because it teaches you about the HR theory and best practice/best fit – and then you get the opportunity to immediately translate and apply it to your own organisation.

“The work-based reports have enabled me to analyse our HR function at the Department of Health, identify gaps, and then put forward recommendations for addressing those gaps. It has helped to give me such a good understanding of the organisation and how to align our HR strategies to the business objectives. This has been particularly beneficial in the HR Business Partner role.

“To be honest when I started the course I felt quite nervous about going back into study, particularly the time commitment involved. I found writing the first essay really overwhelming, but I got there in the end, and I had good support from Kim Schofield, our course facilitator. I also found I had a whole new network to draw upon, particularly being the first APS cohort. Everyone was very supportive of each other and it was an opportunity to learn about what other agencies were doing in the HR space.

Undertaking this course has given me the opportunity to be involved in projects at work that I wouldn’t have otherwise.  For example, in one of our early units I chose to do a report on flexible work arrangements. When the department commenced work on responding to the APS Gender Equality Strategy – while this work didn’t sit in my team – I put my hand up to develop Health’s action plan as I’d already done extensive research on that topic.

“One of the great things about the program was the Unit 4 work-based project. For my project, I developed and implemented a pilot job-share platform for the group where I am the HR business partner. In a short period I was able to write the business case and project plan, and then implement and evaluate the pilot. It’s not often that you can achieve something so quickly in the public service so this was very rewarding.

"It also gave me some great examples to use for a recent recruitment round, where I was successful in winning a promotion to the Department of Defence. I believe the skills and knowledge I have developed in undertaking the APC Program were great for my self-confidence and definitely gave me a foot up in the recruitment process – and will also help as I transition to my new role.”

Read the employer's perspective: Rowena Bain CAHRI, Department of Defence