When Paul Juniper became the Director of Queen’s University Industrial Relations Centre (IRC) in 2006, he recognized the need for more senior level training in the changing human resources (HR) profession. To accomplish this, he designed a new series of Advanced HR programs to enhance the strategic knowledge, ability, and capability of HR practitioners. The goal was to enable HR practitioners to shift from an administrative and/or transactional role, to one that has become an integral part of an organization’s business strategy – an HR business partner.
By 2012, with a series of Advanced HR programming in place, the Advanced HR Certificate was introduced. This spring, Erin O’Flynn became the first IRC participant to earn this coveted certificate.
O’Flynn, who is the Director of Human Resources at Cogeco Data Services Inc., started her training with Queen’s IRC in 2008, with the popular Negotiation Skills program. While she had a wish list of IRC programs she wanted take, she wasn’t sure it would ever happen. “Training dollars are so scarce,” she said. “But over time, I was given the chance to take one here and one there, and then I just needed one more.” That one more was the Linking HR Strategy to Business Strategy program, which O’Flynn completed in April 2013.
“The most beneficial programs for me were the Advanced HR, and Linking HR Strategy to Business Strategy programs.” O’Flynn noted that the focus on culture change, how to become a business ally, and change management from a business perspective, were all key takeaways for her.
“I was at a point in my career where the programs underpinned everything I had learned to date, and they helped me to finesse what I’ve learned as an HR professional.”
O’Flynn also found the networking opportunities in the IRC programs very beneficial. She enjoyed the quality of the programs, and the hands-on experience that they offered. “I found the facilitators very good. They are all experts in their field, and they bring their experience to the table, not just the theory.”
“In the Talent Management program, the facilitator provided a lot of great tools. I was able to implement those as soon as I returned to work.”
“Overall, the IRC’s programming is fabulous,”O’Flynn said. “The IRC is very good at making people feel comfortable. It’s a rich learning experience, and very customer friendly.”
It is precisely these reasons why O’Flynn has arranged for other employees to attend the IRC’s programs. “We were coming up to bargaining, and I sponsored two people to attend the Negotiation Skills program. Both walked away with a whole new perspective.”
She describes one employee, who had an ‘I throw out my number and you throw out yours’ approach to collective bargaining. After attending the program, he was able to apply the skills and knowledge right away. “He learned the benefits of interest-based bargaining, and was looking for collaborative ways to negotiate. We saw an immediate cause and effect.”
O’Flynn was excited to earn her Advanced HR certificate – she already has it hanging on the wall in her office. “This certificate, coupled with my on-the-job experience, has further enhanced my credibility as an HR practitioner,” she said. O’Flynn is also excited to be a valued strategic business partner at Cogeco, and to have the skills and knowledge to help shape the company’s strategic goals.
The IRC’s Advanced Human Resources programming began with the foundational program, Advanced HR. It was designed for HR and labour relations professionals currently in a middle management role, with at least three to five years experience managing an HR department, who hold a CHRP designation or equivalent profile. Additional programs include: Succession Planning, Talent Management, HR Decision Making, and Linking HR Strategy to Business Strategy.