Carolyn Kress, SPHR, believes that human resource management is now a consultative profession, requiring HR professionals to work directly with the C-suite to define and achieve business goals. Kress has witnessed this evolution firsthand in her own career, and looks for this ability in the HR talent she recruits -- something she is doing frequently these days.
Kress is Senior Vice President of HR at OVH US, a cloud and hosting service provider. While new to the USA, OVH US is a subsidiary of OVH Group, Europe's largest cloud hosting provider. The company is expanding quickly, which means Kress is working fast to grow her team and roll out new processes and policies that support the organization’s growth.
When hiring an HR professional, a credential from HR Certification Institute (HRCI) is a prerequisite for Kress, right up there with a bachelor’s degree. She needs to be sure new hires have the knowledge and skill set to keep up. “There is a baseline of knowledge that is inherent in someone with certification,” she says.
Kress first pursued certification when she moved from Canada to Fairfax, Va., in 1999. “I knew I was coming into a different regulatory environment and needed a way to get up to speed quickly. I also valued the credibility that comes with [HRCI certification],” she says.
Kress earned the fully accredited Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification from HRCI. She maintains her designation by getting recertified every three years, which requires continuous learning and helps her stay on top of HR practice changes. She expects the people she hires to possess that same commitment. When interviewing HR professionals without certification, Kress asks about their plan to do so. “If their intent is to join my team, we talk about HRCI certification as part of the development plan.” She sees HRCI certification as a value-add for the organization and the individual, who will benefit long-term from having the designation on his or her resume.
HR Talent With an Eye on the Future
When hiring, Kress looks for team members who can think beyond the tactical and understand how decisions will shape the short- and long-term future of OVH US. Time is of the essence in the competitive market for top talent, especially in tech. At the same time, the HR department must make hiring decisions that can scale.
Kress says organizations such as HRCI make it easier to tap into a network of professional resources who can share advice and best practices. For example, Kress and her team are in the process of identifying a core HR information system (HRIS), software that will help the company manage its employees and data. They need a system that can be implemented quickly and grow with the business. A key part of her research process was to ask her HRCI-certified peers for input.
The HRCI community helped Kress to narrow down the company’s search to a shortlist of potential vendors. Next, she’ll work with the finance team to choose an option that can be integrated with other key systems. The new HRIS should streamline some administrative functions and help the HR team manage and analyze data so they can make more informed decisions about everything from benefits to recruitment and performance management.
HR technology certainly saves time and affords HR new ways to provide the organization value, but Kress emphasizes that certain critical functions cannot be outsourced to a machine. For example, HR professionals play a key role in creating a company culture that attracts and retains talented people and safeguards the organization’s exceptional employee experience.
“A big part of HR is customer service. Employees come to us when they need answers and support, personal or professional. It is our job to provide that [support], to communicate effectively, and to make sure we do the right thing for our people,” she explains.
No business is going to achieve its goals without a talented and engaged workforce. As Kress builds the HR team that will shape the future of OVH US, she looks for people who understand that and embrace HR’s pivotal role in shaping business decisions. HRCI certification ensures that her team has the professionalism and expertise necessary to actively help the company achieve its goals.