Interview with Erik van Vulpen - Founder of Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR)
Erik van Vulpen is the founder of Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR). He is a world leader in innovation in the field of human resources, with digital and analytical skills, but also a highly regarded international speaker.
The mission of AIHR is to develop the field of human resources, to prepare if for the future, offering top online courses, available anywhere and anytime. He is a human resources professional who has assumed the fact that his job involves a lifelong learning process where he can easily expand his competencies in the direction he wants and where he can accustom skills which he needs to advance in his career.
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1. How, in your opinion, did the Covid-19 pandemic change the HR domain?
I think the pandemic significantly changed the HR domain in multiple ways. First, it represents the ultimate digital transformation. With the span of a few weeks, remote working was not only widely accepted but it was also required to survive. Second, it emphasized the crucial role of HR. Suddenly, everyone agreed that HR was crucial to the company’s success. I think this created momentum for HR that we need to leverage.
2. How will these changes impact the HR domain in the future?
I once read an article about how trauma survivors adapt. Some fail to recover, while others are able to bounce back and learn from the event and grow through it. These two conflicting phenomena are called “post-traumatic stress disorder” and “post-traumatic growth”. I wrote an article about this – HR should adopt the policies that allow it to bounce back and grow through this experience.
3. How can they face these challenges? What are the instruments that HR professionals can use to find the best solutions?
I think HR can bounce back by building HR practices that enable the organization to adapt and that position the organization to be successful. Examples include establishing a better digital employee journey, building a more purpose-driven organization that engages people even when they are remote, it involves upskilling the workforce in digital skills and mastering skills like automation, and HR needs to start to lead with data, leveraging data and analytics to become a better sparring partner with the business.
4. What are the must-have skills for an HR professional in 2025?
We believe that a future-proof HR professional is a T-shaped HR professional. A T-shaped HR professional has a broad set of core skills, which form the base of the “T”, and a functional specialization, which is the vertical part of the “T”.
We have identified four key skills that all HR professionals need as part of their core skills:
1. Data-driven, also known as evidence-based, is the ability to read, apply, create, and communicate data into valuable information to influence decision-making processes.
2. Business acumen, also known as business savvy or business sense, is the ability to translate the organization’s purpose, mission, goals, and business context into strategy, positioning HR policies and activities to best serve the organization’s interests.
3. Digital integration is the ability to leverage technology to increase efficiency and to drive HR and business value.
4. People’s advocate is the ability to build a strong internal culture, communicate skillfully, get the best out of people, and act as a trusted employee champion.
5. Why should an HR professional choose the AIHR online education programs, instead of other courses?
At the Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) we focus on in-depth learning. This makes it unique in two ways. First, our programs are highly practical. We believe that what you learn today, you should be able to apply the next day. Second, our courses are in-depth. If it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill, you will not be able to learn in it in a one- or two-hour program. Our programs go deeper, allowing professionals to practice and get better within the academy, after which they can implement it in the real world.
6. Please recommend us one of the Academy̕ s programs suitable for the HR Managers.
For HR managers, there are two programs I’d recommend, depending on their interest. The first one is the HR Business Partner 2.0 Certificate Program. This program is for managers who want to become a stronger partner of the business, be more strategic in HR, leverage data and KPIs, while building business acumen and consulting skills.
For forward-looking managers, we recommend the Digital HR Certificate Program. This program focuses on improving digital skills in HR, teaching digital transformation skills, as well as design thinking, employee experience, and how to best adapt to the future of work.
Both programs are highly relevant and offer world-class upskilling lead by leading instructors in Human Resource Management.