Nancy Peske is the current Director of Human Resources at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. Spread across 1,700 acres, the Morton Arboretum holds more than 222,000 live plants, and was first established in 1922. The Arboretum conducts scientific research on tree health and improvement and displays trees for study and enjoyment while hosting year-round activities for people of all ages.
The Arboretum employs around 450 people with an additional 1,300 volunteers that are also organized through Human Resources.
Nancy started her HR career roughly 20 years ago at a staffing firm recruiting, interviewing, and placing individuals in temporary and long term administrative support roles. Shortly thereafter, she joined Morton Arboretum and was promoted to Director of Human Resources in April of 2006.
Nancy believes her previous experience placing job-seekers and managing others played a big role in transitioning to a Director-level role.
She says, “In the staffing industry, I probably had three years of experience. I then moved into a position where I was a Project Coordinator for our CEO and in that role, I was on the leadership team. I probably had another year of experience working directly with management. In total, I had close to five years of experience before accepting a Director level position. I think that’s about the minimum amount of time before making that type of move. Continuing education and becoming a SHRM Certified Professional also played a big role.”
What is SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management)?
SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) maintains a Body of Competency and Knowledge and provides the development tools and resources for all HR professionals to master the behavioral and technical competencies to succeed in their roles.
Nancy has been a SHRM Certified Professional since 2002 and has maintained her certification every three years since that time. She considers it a huge part of her career – especially when just starting out.
“I do think it gave me sort of a rigorous kick start to be exposed to the different areas of HR that I would encounter. It gave me a lot of confidence to know that I had passed and earned an industry specific certification. It meant a great deal to attain that level of respect and confidence from others. They knew I wasn’t just flying from the seat of my pants! <laughs>. There’s obviously no substitute for experience, but the certification served me very well. I think the balance of it makes for a very well rounded individual."
The Value of SHRM Certification
Would Nancy recommend any HR professional pursue SHRM certification?
“Absolutely. I have a new staff member who just earned her SHRM certification. I think in the past 15 years it's become much more the norm to require some sort of certification as an HR professional. It provides an excellent foundation of knowledge and skills to build off of.”
There’s also a tremendous value in on-going education and maintaining the certification.
“When you initially earn your certification you're not done. You’re required to maintain your certification every three years. You need to demonstrate that you are obtaining the skills that are needed to be effective in your role. Continuing education allows you to always advance your skills in your profession. It forces you to stay fresh and to prudently stay on top of your career.”
SHRM continually updates their materials and exam objectives to stay in step with the ever-changing landscape of HR.
“They do a great job updating their materials and exams. Every 3 year cycle it feels like I’m certifying for the first time and not just rubber stamping my last certification. That’s why SHRM is respected and well known in the HR industry.”
We thank Nancy Peske for spending some time to discuss her career and personal experience with SHRM. If you have additional questions about SHRM or any of our other course offerings, visit our SHRM Training & Certification page or leave us a comment below.