OBI Group: Qualified For The Global Market - Thomas Belker

In the global marketplace, it is vital for HR professionals to demonstrate far reaching knowledge and expertise. Thomas Belker, MD of human resources for OBI Group, explains to CEO the value of a recognised qualification.

The human resources function in multi-national organisations is taking on a far more global remit at a time when the world’s interconnected markets are under mounting economic pressure.

The global market can change rapidly, so the challenge is to ensure that HR executives have the agility to respond.

Putting HR at the heart of strategic thinking is one way to achieve this, but there is also a need for recognised standards for HR professionals.

‘Capital is as necessary as it has always been and cash is king. But the workplace is operated by talent, not by capital,’ says Thomas Belker, managing director of corporate human resources for multi-national home improvement chain OBI Group.

‘In the current global economic situation, CEOs and management know that speed is the answer. They must know they can rely on HR expertise, and they need to attract and secure the knowledge, competencies, behaviours and performance that reflect a global perspective.’

Belker believes that global HR is more than a routine task, it is a profession. ‘Learning comes with experience,’ he says.

Belker is also on the board of directors at the HR Certification Institute, based in Virginia, US.

Having been among the first people outside the US to achieve the institute’s Global Professional in HR (GPHR) certification he has become a willing flag bearer for the certification body, which has already awarded over 100,000 credentials in more than 70 countries.

In 2004, Belker began to wonder how he could prove to himself and to his organisation that his global HR competence was up-to-date and relevant to the challenges at hand.

‘I knew I had extensive experience accumulated in different executive HR jobs but how could I measure it? The field of HR has experienced tremendous change in the past decade, nowhere more profoundly than in global HR management,’ he says.

‘For me the answer was the GPHR certification, which not only proves your expertise, but also teaches you to keep your knowledge current and how to network effectively with people who have the right competencies.’

Global standards

Certification is a growing trend in many professions and it is starting to make a big difference in HR.

A survey produced last year by the HR Certification Institute suggests that half of HR professionals believe hiring managers consider a candidate’s certification status when making decisions on who to recruit.

The GPHR exam is the first generalist certification specifically designed for HR professionals with multi-national accountability and Belker was one of the few original HR professionals to attain the certification in its first year.

For him, it means a career-long commitment to HR’s only globally recognised standard.

‘It is more than merely meeting the criteria and passing an exam,’ he says. ‘The idea is to solve global HR problems using a body of knowledge. It is not about recalling factual material, but applying knowledge and problem –solving skills to address real-life situations and apply best practices.’

Candidates must not only pass the examination but also document practical, exempt-level HR work experience to be eligible for the exam.

Certificate holders are required to recertify their credentials every three years by meeting professional development requirements, which ensure they stay up-to-date.

‘The GPHR certification provides a common HR language that is understood within and among companies that work across borders,’ Belker adds.

‘It is the only global source your organisation may get for the complete spectrum of global HR. Those who are certified are more motivated and more aware of how different aspects of HR work together. It gives you so much energy.’

The GPHR qualification has already proven its value across the globe. Given the challenges ahead, the demand for certification is firmly on the rise.

Thomas Belker, managing director of corporate human resources for OBI Group.