Jun 14, 2016 | Archana Mehta, HRCI Staff Writer
From Puerto Rico to Philadelphia: A journey to certification
There may not be a credential holder more proud of her letters than Lynda Orta.
As global mobility regional manager for the Americas at SAP, the multinational software giant, Lynda is recognizing firsthand the value that certification could bring after earning her PHR® (Professional in Human Resources®) credential early in her career.
In fact, she accomplished something few can boast about: She earned her PHR certification just weeks before she graduated from college.
“When I received my PHR certification just before I graduated,” she says, “it felt like I had already graduated! I actually cried I was so relieved.”
As a college student in Puerto Rico in 1993, Lynda realized she wanted to pursue human resources as a career. She landed a job as an HR assistant at a pharmaceuticals company to help pay for college. When she began working, she realized human resources was more than just filing papers.
“It was the complexity that got my attention – managing human talent,” she says.
Lynda may have been pursuing a degree in business and accounting, but she knew she wanted to pursue human resources as a career.
After a change in her personal life prompted her relocate to Philadelphia, she continued pursuing her college degree while also looking for work. But this is what she noticed: Jobs in human resources were specifically requesting HRCI certification.
It was then that Lynda realized she not only wanted a job in human resources, she also wanted to ensure that employers knew she was dead serious about her career in the field. So she began her journey to certification, gaining an understanding of the broad scope of human resources while studying for her big exam.
“I attended a certification preparation class at Villanova University,” Lynda says. “While studying, I really gained an understanding of the rest of HR, outside what I did at my day job.”
Lynda says she felt that certification was key to helping her succeed in the field of human resources. Earning the PHR provided Lynda with a huge boost of confidence and was a huge validation for her. Even now, she feels pride in holding her certification. She proudly displays her credentials and uses her letters in her signature. She credits the PHR for opening doors for her in her career.
“It showed employers that I was serious about the work I was doing,” she says.
And for Lynda, simply earning her certification wasn’t enough: Her motto is that development and self-growth is a continuous process. Recertification, she says, provides her with an opportunity to step outside of her comfort zone each day in human resources.
This is exceptionally critical considering Lynda’s current position. As global mobility regional manager for the Americas, Lynda is a strategic business partner to internal clients at SAP.
There isn’t a lot of opportunity to remain static in her role. Lynda and her team educate internal clients at SAP on regulatory requirements. Her team is located worldwide – she has team members at SAP’s North America headquarters in Newtown Square, Pa., Seattle, Wash. and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her team’s goal is to support their business partners and ensure they are keeping up with compliance.
To do that, her team has to stay ahead of what’s happening now. Not only are her team members responsible for their own self development, Lynda encourages them to join professional development organizations, tap into the knowledge of their vendors (with respect to benchmarking and regulatory changes) and utilize partner resources. She also recommends HRCI certification as part of her team’s development plans.
Lynda also says that her team has a strong internal network. Her team meets weekly, and the meetings are in an open forum, where team members can bring topics to discuss. They also ask other teams from within the organization to discuss relevant topics of interest.
She says, “We ask ourselves, ‘What are the trends? What are the risks? How can we enable our clients to continue their business within any regulatory constraints?’ If our business partners are successful, the company is successful.”
Lynda says her team’s job is to provide solutions to enable better business performance, something that is perfectly aligned to what SAP software solutions do in the workforce.
To measure that performance, Lynda’s team has placed a strong emphasis on technology to help them track progress and make information accessible to their internal customers.
One example, she says, is the development of a cost estimation tool, something that made a manual process automated. The tool is intelligent and is accessible to recruiters, HR business partners and others within the organization. This tool is one example of how Lynda’s team is able to achieve continuous improvement within the company. She says it’s all about “being able to provide clients with information faster and more effectively.” Her team is currently working on new dashboards for each line of business in SAP to provide greater visibility into where each business’ employees are located, how much money they are spending and regulatory trends.
Lynda says that benchmarking against other customers in the industry is also important.
“How are we meeting the needs of our internal customers? Are we staying competitive?” she says. “We are continually measuring and gauging both our external and internal progress and need to be fair, have the flexibility to adapt and a real partner.”
Certainly certification has made a strong impact in Lynda’s HR career. Proof positive that Orta strongly believes in the value of certification? She’s set to pursue her GPHR® (Global Professional in Human Resources®) credential in the near future.