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“I see myself as a net-weaver, looking to connect other people to their ideal career path. I’ve had other people help me along the way so I like to also be of service to others.”
–Troy Felder, Human Resources Manager, NAPA Auto Parts
“I enjoy being a part of the learning process and hearing how members with different levels of experience in the field apply that knowledge to meet the needs of their organizations.”
–Shenykia “Nikki” Jefferson, Senior Human Resources Business Partner, Cox Communications
Have you been thinking about obtaining your PHR or SPHR certification? Are you exploring options to help you prepare for the exam? Members and friends, let me introduce you to the dynamic duo of Troy Felder and Shenykia “Nikki” Jefferson. You may have seen either of them at various NAAAHR Atlanta and other industry-related events. You may have even had the opportunity to chat with or work with them. What qualifies my labeling them as a dynamic duo? Well, while they may not dawn capes and cowls to shield their identities while ridding Metro-Atlanta of crime (at least to my knowledge), they are the awesome co-facilitators of NAAAHR Atlanta’s PHR Study Group, which they have been jointly facilitated for the past 2 years.
When not working or facilitating study groups, Troy is an avid golfer and loves ALL sports U.S.C. …as in his alma mater, the University of South Carolina at Columbia, U.S.C. (…although he is currently cheating on U.S.C. sports by spending a lot of time watching the Olympic Trials. Shhhhh…). Nikki loves physical fitness and CrossFit is her physical conditioning activity of choice. When she’s not CrossFitting it up, you may catch her leaving trails of dust behind her as she runs through Atlanta in spots like the Atlanta Beltline or the Stone Mountain trail.
Both Nikki and Troy both have beginnings in the retail industry and eventually found their way over to the Human Resources side of the fence. Nikki has since worked in several industries and attributes her success in Human Resources to her wide breadth of industry knowledge. “My experiences have allowed me to learn a little bit of something about everything! This has helped me in my role of teaching and with the study group because the knowledge of HRCI certification draws on a wide range information. I learn even more from my experiences every time I have the opportunity to teach others and hear about how each group member applies their body of knowledge to their company.” says Nikki. Nikki recently started with Cox Communications as an HR Business Partner; a position that she actually learned of through another NAAAHR Atlanta member who works at Cox and, after chatting with Nikki, suggested that she apply for the position. In Nikki’s current role, she is the connector between Cox’s skilled workforce and Cox’s “HR Centers of Excellence” who translates business strategy in a way that helps her clients achieve their goals.
Troy is another one whose retail experience gives him a large pool of knowledge to draw from. It has also made him quite passionate about connecting others with people and opportunities. “I see myself as a net-weaver, looking to connect other people to their ideal career path. I’ve had people help me in the past and so I like to also be of service to others. I started in retail management. After 10 years in retail management, I began working in Human Resources and have been in the field for the past 6 years,” says Troy, who is currently the HR Manager for Napa Auto Parts – Atlanta and responsible for 46 stores employing about 600 people combined. “I agreed to help facilitate the study group because I know how much of an asset taking a class to prepare for my certification exam was to me, especially since I was fairly new to the field when I took my exam.”
Sometimes, there is that moment where our inherent gifts and abilities shine through. We may not see them because we live with them every day and may take them for granted. The way that Nikki and Troy came to co-facilitate the study group is a great example of that. Both Troy and Nikki were recruited to teach the PHR Study Group by a fellow NAAAHR Atlanta member who noticed something about them and had a hunch that they might also work well together. They each accepted the invitation to lead the study group and the rest is history. Here we are today, 2 years and many successful study group completers/PHR-SPHR certification holders later.
“I never really thought about teaching…but reflecting on the experience, I can credit leading the study group to some of my professional development. I prepped for each class weekly by reading material, thinking about what to take notes on and share with the group; I felt like I knew my stuff but I had to learn to equip myself even better to be an effective instructor.” recalls Nikki. “Every time we taught a class, Troy and I would evaluate and tweak things some more to adjust to the class’ pace of learning while making sure that we were covering items that were current and relevant to the exam.”
The study group is a structured 12-week curriculum that is aligned with the HRCI body of knowledge for the PHR. “ ’Study group’ is a good name because it is more of a group conversation around the exam content than a class,” says Troy. As facilitators, “Nikki and I keep the conversations on track but we draw a lot from the diversity of experience and industries represented in the group. We combine that with handouts, PowerPoints, a study guide textbook, and weekly chapter review exams to make sure that people not only understand what answers may be best for a given question, but also why one answer may be better than another.” Troy goes on to mention how important it is to take practice exams that are modeled after the certification exam. It really helps you to learn the methodology of understanding the question and how to pick the best answer for that question.
Three tips for taking the HRCI certification exams:
- Determine which HRCI certification exam is best for you. What you do to study for one will not necessarily prepare you for the other. For example, while both exams demonstrate a level of mastery in the field of Human Resources, the PHR is for the HR Professional who has more tactical/operational responsibility within the HR department. The SPHR is for the HR Professional who has more strategic responsibility to design and plan HR policies and practices that impact the organization internally and externally.
- Invest in a study guide. There are several out there. The one that Nikki and Troy use for the study group is the study guide by Sandra M. Reed & Anne M. Bogardus. Be sure to get the most current version available of your study guide so that the information is as up-to-date as possible. Of course you can purchase the book through most vendors, but don’t forget to also check your local library as a free resource! And last but not least,
- STUDY! That may seem a bit obvious but some people feel that they know the material because they are experienced practitioners. Even the most experienced practitioner can fail either of the exams. It is not enough to know ‘the field.’ What is more important is that you understand how to take the exam. Understand the structure of the questions and how to pick the best answer.
Of course there is so much more to learn about members Troy Felder and Nikki Jefferson, so I encourage you to say hi next time you see either of them at the next event and find out more! Speaking of events, don’t miss this month’s chapter meeting on August 10, 2016. Click here to check this month’s calendar and see the full list of opportunities to meet, mingle, and manducate with other members and partners of NAAAHR Atlanta.
We hope to see you soon!