Puerto Rico Chapter Drives Certification Among Spanish Speakers

By Ana Iglesias, MPA November 1, 2016
Puerto Rico Chapter Drives Certification Among Spanish Speakers
Administrative staff, Puerto Rico chapter of SHRM (L-R): Annita Muñoz, customer service representative; Aimeé Corre, project coordinator; Ana Iglesias, administrative director; Rossana Badillo, executive assistant; and Aixa García, membership coordinator. (Not shown: Nardelis Soto and Germaine Cruz, certification program coordinators).

The SHRM-Puerto Rico Chapter is leading certification efforts for its members and the island's HR professionals, offering certification training and materials in Spanish, plus programs and learning opportunities on the HR competencies. In recognition of its leadership in the Spanish-speaking market, the chapter recently won the SHRM Learning System Champion award for  promoting SHRM certification.

"One of the key elements in generating interest in SHRM certification has been the availability of materials in Spanish," said Vanessa Alvarado Guevara, SHRM-CP, talent management director at Stryker Global Corp. in Arroyo, Puerto Rico, and president of the island's SHRM-Puerto Rico chapter, which has over 1,000 members. "HR professionals now have the opportunity to take SHRM's certification exams and preparatory course in the language of their choice, either Spanish or English," Alvarado said.

The SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams will be given in Spanish in December 2016, and once a year during the Dec. 1 to Feb. 15 window. SHRM-Puerto Rico introduced its own certification preparation course this past summer, capping off three years of strategic planning. The first locally offered class started in August for 28 participants, consisting of 17 sessions covered in four months; the next class is scheduled for 2017. SHRM Learning System materials are now available in both languages spoken in the commonwealth, a U.S. territory. Puerto Ricans are citizens of the U.S.

The chapter's efforts on behalf of SHRM certification included an intensive orientation process and a continuous communication strategy with members and others. Pertinent articles continue to appear in main Puerto Rican newspapers and the chapter's digital magazine, Recurso Online; videos and social networks reach at least 20,000 people.

Students of SHRM-Puerto Rico’s certification preparatory class.

 "SHRM-Puerto Rico has taken a proactive role in Latin America," Alvarado said. "We want Spanish-speaking HR professionals to see us as a chapter that can help them obtain their SHRM credentials. At this critical milestone, we are leading the way by bringing important development options to local HR professionals as well as to those from abroad."

Positioned for Certification

The chapter prepared for SHRM certification in several stages. First, it began a long-term educational effort, inspiring local leaders to start talking about the competencies that an HR professional must have to succeed. In 2013, the chapter invited Alexander Alonso, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, SHRM's senior vice president for knowledge development and certification, to address the plenary session of its annual conference, an event that attracts over 500 HR professionals. (Alonso returned in 2015 in response to popular demand.)

The next critical step occurred in 2014, when SHRM-Puerto Rico designed and launched a strategy that incorporated the SHRM Competency Model and was based on four pillars:

  1. A talent resource bank.
  2. Online services to improve its client experience.
  3. A center for investigations and studies.
  4. A comprehensive educational program to elevate its local talent knowledge and performance.

Pursuant to the fourth pillar, the chapter aligned all of its educational initiatives with the SHRM-defined behavioral and technical competencies, an action that had a significant impact on the professional development of HR practitioners on the island.

Vanessa Alvarado Guevara, SHRM-CP, president, SHRM-Puerto Rico Vanessa Alvarado Guevara, SHRM-CP, president, SHRM-Puerto Rico.
SHRM's 2014 instructor training course in Dallas gave the chapter's representatives greater access to cert prep programs available on the U.S. mainland. SHRM-Puerto Rico's certification program coordinator, Nardelis Soto, Ph.D., participated in that effort to develop certification instructors. Attendance there was "a very assertive move," according to Alvarado, because it helped the chapter start working on the design of its own prep course. Later that year, SHRM-Puerto Rico successfully enlisted volunteers who were interested in pursuing certification and willing to train others in the course. The chapter also officially assigned a member of its board of directors to become a subject matter expert on the SHRM Competency Model and the SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge (SHRM BoCK).

In 2015, SHRM-Puerto Rico made an intense effort to create awareness among HR professionals holding legacy credentials of the online tutorial pathway to SHRM certification. More than 50 people took advantage of the pathway to acquire their SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP designations before that option ended with the calendar year.

Current Efforts

At the recently concluded 2016 SHRM-Puerto Rico annual conference, the chapter reiterated its commitment to SHRM certification by tying programs to the competencies and offering orientation sessions, tools and learning opportunities on the globally recognized credential. The chapter "is an advocate for using the SHRM BoCK as the 'strategic north' in all of our educational offerings," Alvarado said. "We're aligning and linking every educational theme, from conceptual design to promotion and application, to each competency."

The chapter's embrace of the SHRM Competency Model in its strategic plans "demonstrates our vision for the future," Alvarado said. "We will continue to work hard to communicate the importance of acquiring both the knowledge and the competencies critical for HR professionals to evolve to the highest level of performance. It's our main goal to provide best-in-class educational experiences that will generate tangible business results."


Ana Iglesias Diaz, MPA, is director of administration for SHRM-Puerto Rico.



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