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Profile: Clifford Gillam FCPHR

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Certification: It’s never too late

By Clifford Gillam FCPHR
Executive Director – Workforce, Department of Education (Western Australia)

“I’m nearly the end of a career in HR and there is no particular need for me to use the post-nominal or to leverage a move into another role. So why should I care about AHRI’s HR certification program?

“As a member of the profession and a member of AHRI for over 20 years and I became a certified HR practitioner in August 2016.

"I believe that the best way for us to cement how critical HR management is in creating successful organisations, is to ensure that we attain, from the outside, a degree of understanding that this is a true profession. It shows that HR standards are overseen by a professional body and HR certification can give anyone who is hiring the absolute confidence that there will be professional service given in the role.

“For the past 14 years I have been on the executive of two large public sector organisations. I began working in the HR space after a significant career change from academia followed by eight years in theatre. But at the age of 40 I became an industrial advocate and from there began working in the public sector where I became increasingly interested in people and their relationship to organisations.

“After a postgraduate degree in HR from Curtin University, I moved into senior management and made the C suite of the Public Transport Authority in 2003. At the time we were developing a highly technical workforce to build the single biggest public sector infrastructure project in WA: the southern suburbs rail line. It was a fabulous experience managing rapid growth and delivering the project on time and on budget.

“I decided to retire after that but was enticed back into work for the Department of Education where we have overseen a move from a highly centralised and not very agile structure to autonomous schools with much more freedom of operation, responsive to the needs of their communities.

“HR is and always will be about people. In an age of constant talk about automation, what you can’t automate is the relationship between the talent you need to the success of an organisation. At the base, really good strategic human management is as much about building culture as about anything. And you can’t automate culture. So building successful organisations, and creating positive, productive cultures requires a deep understanding of the objectives of the business and the human capital needs, and then how to nurture that consistently.

“When I look back at my career and the profession generally, I can see it has moved from being simply transactional and simply about compliance. Now, it’s much more recognised – across all sectors – that these roles have been superseded by a need for highly intelligent analytics, highly capable understanding of the direction of business, and the capacity to align the acquisition and development of talent with those objectives. Some have made significant progress but there still remains a degree of the old habits of mind. Professionalising the role through certification will help to embed the higher level of understanding and the significant contribution that good HR can make in the years that lie ahead.”

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