HR Leads Business

Sep 25, 2018 | Barry Lawrence, MBA, aPHR, HRCI Staff Writer

HRCI Champion: Alex Diaz, PHR

HR Leads Business recently caught up with Alex Diaz, PHR, Associate Director of HR at the American Welding Society (AWS).

How did you get started in HR?

Several years ago, I graduated from Florida International University (FIU) with aAlex Diaz Master in Public Administration (MPA) and a Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Policy and Management. I always knew I wanted to one day work in the field of HR. However, I continued working on the management side of things. I helped manage the Standards Development Department of the American Welding Society (AWS) and later worked alongside the former Executive Director of AWS, where I was given the opportunity to work with the Board of Directors and help on several strategic projects. One of the strategic projects I am most proud of is designing and developing the first ever centralized customer service department at AWS.

Fast-forward close to two years ago when I took the plunge and officially moved to HR. Since the move to HR, I have focused on building systems and processes to streamline the HR Department and implementing new initiatives in talent recruitment, training and development, and employee relations.

What organizational HR initiatives are you most proud of?

I am very proud of several achievements in my time in HR:

  • Implementing a social recruiting and talent management platform that enables AWS to find, engage and hire talent in an integrated Applicant Tracking System. The ATS streamlines our hiring process and has significantly improved our time to hire by facilitating our pre-hire assessments. This enables us to prioritize the best fit applicants and digitize the entire onboarding process.
  • Ensuring the safety of our employees and the continuation of our operations. AWS is in Hurricane Alley. Therefore implementing an Emergency Notification System is critical. I am very proud to have implemented a modern, robust and user-friendly two-way communication and monitoring platform. This system has been utilized several times and has been proven to keep our organization safe, informed and connected.
  • Making sure our staff has the right skills for today and tomorrow is important to us. One of the things I am most known for in my HR role is implementing our highly used learning management system. Its utilization metrics are off the charts compared to benchmarks.

How did HRCI certification help you in your HR career?

Although I have several years of transferable HR experience and a Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Policy, I only have a couple years as an Associate Director in HR. I wanted to demonstrate to myself and to others that I have the mastery of the human resources principles needed to succeed.

I chose HRCI for certification because HRCI has been the gold standard of HR credentials for more than 40 years. HRCI has built a strong reputation for having credible exams that truly validate an individual’s mastery of HR. I feel that passing the PHR is like passing the Bar for an attorney, the CPA for an accountant or the CWI for a welder.

How else did you benefit from your certification experience?

I spent many months of preparing for the PHR exam. We all are faced with life’s challenges and distractions and setting time to continuously learn and expand our skill set is not something we will do if we do not set a goal. The HRCI certification was that goal for me. At the end of my preparation I hoped to pass the exam, but I felt that if I had not passed I would have still felt accomplished because of all that I had learned through the process.

What advice would you give to future HRCI certification holders?

Prepare as much as possible, read as much as possible, and commit.

Who has had the biggest impact on your HR career?

Gricelda Manalich, our former Corporate Director of HR and Compensation. Gricelda worked at AWS for 37 years and is known internally and externally by our stakeholders as an individual who is highly respected and credible, because of her high standards of ethical behavior, professionalism and levels of service. I am very honored to have worked, learned and been mentored by her.

What are your future goals?

I am a strong believer that an organization’s competitive advantage comes from the people who make up the organization. That is why I feel that my career goal is to ensure that we do not lose sight of this critical component to our organization’s success.

What does the future hold for HR?

The HR role is no longer administrative. We, as HR professionals, need to build strategic importance within our organizations by solving problems and adding value and in doing so we help our organizations achieve their objective and goals. To quote Ray Shook, former Executive Director of AWS: “It’s not about activities, it’s about results.”

The American Welding Society advances the science, technology and application of welding and allied joining and cutting processes worldwide. Learn more about Alex Diaz on his LinkedIn page.