How academics can distinguish themselves through HR certification

Dr Amna Yousaf CAHR
Lecturer, Swinburne University of Technology

The first HR academic to achieve HR certification through AHRI’s Academic Certification Pathway explains why it’s important to the profession.

As a seasoned academic who was new to the HR landscape in Australia, achieving certification made lot of sense to Amna Yousaf. Originally from Pakistan, Amna saw AHRI’s Academic Certification Pathway as an opportunity to differentiate herself in a foreign market. “The AHRI certification program is a professional opportunity that I never would have had working in Pakistan,” she says.

“As a researcher, continuing professional development is important to me. It’s a great marker of your abilities as an HR academic, and I see it becoming more and more important going forward.”

Amna is now a lecturer at Swinburne University in Melbourne – teaching organisational behaviour at a postgraduate level and innovation at an undergraduate level. She also publishes works in peer-reviewed journals, is a volunteer reviewer of other people’s journal articles, and is a supervisor and examiner of PhD theses. The fact that she felt certification would distinguish her already illustrious resume is a testament to the value she places on it.

“I like to be viewed as a good researcher,” says Amna. “I want to earn a good name in HR a few years down the road, and the continued professional development opportunities that certification provides will help me along the way.”

New academic beginnings

The HR Certification Academic Pathway requires a portfolio submission. For hers, Amna turned her attention to her contemporaries overseas, exploring the high turnover rates of academics in Pakistan and the Netherlands. She was interested in the fact that both countries were experiencing the same problem, despite their very different locales, economic circumstances, and cultural contexts.

In her quest to understand why both struggled to hold onto academic staff, Amna measured employee satisfaction and looked at the HR programs run by the universities, and what factors influenced both. She looked particularly closely at the role line managers and senior managers were playing.

“What I found is that line managers were having a very strong impact on employee satisfaction as opposed to more senior managers,” she says.

“The line manager is directly involved in carrying out HR practices such as performance appraisal, performance management and providing feedback – tasks that senior management, or even HR, were not directly involved in.”

Amna’s research showed that the problem lay in line managers’ lack of experience in carrying out HR tasks. “If employees think that managers are not playing their role effectively, or if they are unsatisfied with the HR practices being implemented, such as the performance management system, their perception of the organisation will not be a good one. The level of fairness, trust and loyalty will suffer.”

Amna not only made an impression on the Australian HR landscape through her portfolio research, but also on universities in Pakistan and the Netherlands. “They were really pleased with the results,” she says. “They were committed to beginning some interventions and programs which could help develop the managers.”

Searching for answers

It’s no surprise Amna’s research had such practical applications. The new HR Certification Academic Pathway allows experienced academics to distinguish themselves as leaders in the field of HR thinking and knowledge. “Having the certification post-nominal is a signifier to your colleagues, peers and the industry that you have reached the highest level in the profession. Your abilities are proven through certification,” says Amna.

“The professional recognition framework that you complete in the program and against which AHRI tests your eligibility displays not only your technical knowledge, but the skills and behaviours necessary to perform as an HR academic. It helps you understand how well you are engaged with the HR industry and whether you are contributing to it with your research.”

Amna recommends other academics follow suit and achieve certification through the Academic Pathway, as it has vastly improved her belief in her own capabilities.

“I found that achieving certification really enhanced my professional self-identity. I feel more competent and able to solve problems, and I’m pretty confident that it will enhance my understanding of the field as a whole.”