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SHRM-Certified CFO: HR and Finance Go Hand in Hand

A woman in a green jacket posing for a photo.

Archana Remane Dhore, CPA, SHRM-CP, was appointed chief financial officer (CFO) at RiVidium, a technology and cybersecurity company based in Manassas, Va., in October 2019. As CFO, she oversees all aspects of financial management for the organization's four divisions: logistics and financial services, human capital and training services, information technology and engineering services, and cyber intelligence. We asked Dhore about her combined expertise in finance and HR and how her dual professional certifications contribute to her professional success.


SHRM Certification: You're a certified public accountant with a master's degree in accounting and 14 years of experience in financial services. How did HR come into your career?

Archana Dhore: In addition to my being in charge of all financial functions, my responsibilities have also included dealing with state payroll tax issues, unemployment cases, court hearings and employee policy changes. Handling these matters made me realize that I needed to acquire more formal knowledge and guidance in HR. I started researching, found out about SHRM and became a member.


SHRM: What impact did—and does—SHRM membership have on your job?

Dhore: So many resources at my fingertips. I signed up for HR Magazine and several SHRM e‑newsletters for news, compliance updates and trends in HR technology, talent acquisition and talent management, compensation and benefits, state and local tax laws, and more. They really help me keep up with current changes in the field of HR. SHRM's templates and forms are easy to use and make my job easier. And when I'm looking for help on a matter, I can call SHRM and receive guidance. All of this boosted my confidence. These resources help me develop hiring strategies, compensation packages and pricing analyses—just to name a few areas that are part of my day-to-day work as a financial professional.


SHRM: Why did you decide to seek SHRM certification, and how did you prepare for the exam?

Dhore: I already had an HR credential from another issuing body, but as soon as the SHRM credential was introduced in 2015, I decided to pursue it. Being recognized by the world's largest HR membership organization would demonstrate my long-term commitment to the HR profession. I earned my SHRM-CP that April after dedicating two months to preparation. I read the materials on my own, allocating weekly hours to studying and practicing. I recently completed my recertification, and my credential is now valid until 2024.


SHRM: Any advice for people considering SHRM certification or about taking the test?

Dhore: The HR profession is no longer just about what you know—facts and figures—but rather how you implement that knowledge in the workplace each and every day. SHRM certification provides you the opportunity to prove that. Your SHRM credential will make you stand out from your peers and put you ahead of the game. The test is difficult, so you'll need good study habits—no cramming at the last minute. Use SHRM resources as much as you can. It requires hard work, patience and planning.


SHRM: How has SHRM certification affected the way you do your job?

Dhore: Being SHRM-certified has given me new perspectives, as well as the ability to think more strategically and perform more effectively in various situations. It has given me professional recognition and a career boost and has also helped my organization. Having the most-current and relevant HR knowledge means that my company can stay compliant with regulations and attract and retain top talent. As our company continues to grow, as part of HR, I periodically review our policies, benefits and workplace practices.


SHRM: Any examples of staying current and in compliance?

Dhore: Through SHRM's weekly e-newsletter, I learned about the D.C. Universal Paid Leave Act and communicated with our payroll company to make the necessary provisions for us to comply. Another SHRM update raised my curiosity about a new Washington, D.C., law I had not been aware of that requires employers to offer commuter benefits to covered employees. I logged in to SHRM for more information, called SHRM to get some questions answered and confirmed that we fall under this law. With SHRM resources, I set up this benefit for our employees.


SHRM: Any examples of new perspectives, strategic thinking, job performance?

Dhore: As an IT company in a changing work environment, we need to survey the market and consider making changes. One practice we heard about time and again from staff and interviewees was flexible workday options; there would be more interest in the company if it provided that opportunity. I researched SHRM's resources to find out more about flexibility in the workplace, including current practices, what other companies are offering, benchmarks and trends. I found out that flexibility allows employers and employees to decide on working conditions that suit both, helping employees maintain a work/life balance and employers improve productivity and efficiency.

I planned to share this information with management—not only its HR aspect, but also its impact in terms of finance, work culture, management's views and our needs. Based on my findings, I drafted a new policy, tailoring options for them to consider. We had thorough discussions about how to implement a policy that responded to employee requests while maintaining day-to-day deliverables. Once finalized, the flexibility policy was added to the employee handbook and rolled out to the staff via e-mail from the HR department. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.

A recent issue of the SHRM Recertification Credit Guide e-newsletter made me aware of the Veterans at Work Certificate Program. A majority of our workforce are veterans. I wanted to learn more about the value that skilled veterans bring to the civilian workplace, so I acquired this certificate.


SHRM: Do you think that your SHRM-CP played a role in your appointment as CFO?

Dhore: Having multiple qualifications certainly helped me rise from the crowd. SHRM certification is a valuable asset that keeps you and your organization more competitive in today's economy. As a professional distinction, it sets you apart as an individual, proving your high level of knowledge and skills. A SHRM credential can carry a significant salary premium. It has tremendous market acceptance. By validating hard-to-fill skills and readiness for hard-to-fill jobs, it provides a signaling mechanism in markets where employers struggle to find qualified talent.


SHRM: You are a dual-certified professional; how do the professions of finance and HR influence one another?

Dhore: Each department has its core functionalities, but rather than being independent, all departments are interdependent for outputs. In the current business climate, pressure is on HR and finance to pull together and manage the workforce more effectively. Research examining the relationship between the CFO and CHRO shows "a powerful link between a business's performance and the extent to which its finance and HR leaders collaborate."

Both departments work toward the goal of a successful and well-run business; both want the right people in the right places doing the right things. While finance typically views people as an asset, HR sees them for their value and skills. HR tends to be more focused on historical reporting, while finance is more concerned with forecasting. With shared information and strong two-way communication, together HR and finance can bring huge value to the business. Not only will the organization benefit from better-quality insight, it will gain significant financial rewards as well. So, in my view, HR and finance go hand in hand.

"How can a CPA have an HR credential?" is a common question I receive—most recently at a weeklong finance-related conference. I hope this Q&A will attract other financial professionals toward SHRM certification. 

James Connors, SHRM-CP, is senior specialist, certification communications, at SHRM.

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For more information on SHRM Certification, and to register for the exam, please visit our website.

Already SHRM-certified? Be sure to maintain your credential by recertifying. Learn more about recertification activities here.


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