Rhetoric to reality

Getting HR certified from the UK to Australia: Rose Clements FCPHR

As one of the first members of the CIPD (UK) to achieve certified practitioner status in Australia through the Australian HR Institute, I’ve been lucky to see professionalism grow in HR in both countries.

I have more reasons than most to be pleased that AHRI is spearheading the drive towards certification of the HR profession.

For one, I have a keen interest in evangelising on behalf of the profession; I am a member of the National President’s Forum for AHRI and have also worked in HR in the UK.

There is a phrase used in HR that goes: ‘You can’t pretend to care, you have to care.’

Pursuing certified practitioner status is evidence that we don’t just pretend to be HR professionals, we genuinely are. It’s about closing the gap between rhetoric and realism, being responsible for upholding and contributing to a standard of excellence that distinguishes us from those who would seek to attach themselves to the profession and ultimately dilute the worth of the profession to our key stakeholders.

The UK: A history of certification excellence

When I first moved to Australia in 1996 high professional standards in HR were not much in evidence. I was surprised, to say the least, to find that the rigorous process of certification of HR, set by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) in the UK, just didn’t exist in Australia.

Back in the UK, the CIPD is the currency for excellence; its origins date back more than 100 years. In 2000, it received the prestigious Royal Charter, which enshrines the regulations, professional code of conduct and standards of professional behaviour that organisation members must commit to.

Its existence means you can’t easily get a job in HR in the UK unless you have a qualification with the CIPD.

Translating certification

As soon as I heard that AHRI was pursuing certification, I was delighted. But one of my first questions as someone with 13 years’ experience was, what would I need to do to achieve that certified practitioner status in Australia – and also how could I show my support for the initiative?

In my case, and for those like me who have the MCIPD qualification, achieving certification in Australia has been straightforward due to a reciprocal membership agreement signed by AHRI and the CIPD in 2013. It means that CIPD members are automatically upgraded to be an AHRI Certified Practitioner after proving their membership status in the UK, along with a completed membership application form.

My HR history

I am and continue to be a firm believer in the important role and responsibility that HR has to business.

I never set out to have a career in HR, which is all the more remarkable considering I was named AHRI’s Australian HR Director of the Year in 2012! I’ve also received the prestigious David Ulrich HR Leader of the Year at the AHRI Awards.

After doing a social sciences degree in New Zealand, I moved to the UK with my husband where I ended up doing analytical modelling and futuristic programming at market research firm, AC Nielsen.

But when I was seconded to work on a project in Nielsen’s HR department, I knew instantly that this was where I wanted to be. So, I put a proposition to the head of HR to invest in my professional development. And it worked!

When I moved to Perth in 1997, the first thing I did was seek out AHRI. However at that time it was simply an embryonic networking organisation. It was only after arriving in Sydney in 2002 that I found the association had evolved into a more professional body – and I began to get involved in AHRI events.

Since then, I haven’t looked back – and I remain a keen advocate of professional development.

Too many HR professionals pride themselves on developing the shiniest people processes, but they lose sight of whether they are having impact on growth and the bottom line.

HR has to see themselves as business leaders who happen to specialise in HR. They have to understand the aims and objectives of the organisation they are a part. That’s the only way that HR is going to remain relevant, keep its value and practise its expertise.